Re: Diversion & Reconsignment - Bananas (was West Coast Lumber)

Tim Gilbert <tgilbert@...>

Gregg Mahlkov wrote:

The only two commodities where there were a great many "rollers" shipped were perishables and lumber. That is, cars with a bogus consignee at a far distant point which were to be sold prior to arrival at that point and diverted to a new destination. For example, the people of Terre Haute, Indiana, appeared to eat 100 pounds of bananas a day apiece from the billing records out of New Orleans, but reconsignment orders awaited all those cars when received from the IC at Effingham.

I believe that reconsignment occurred only when the load in the car had been sold after the original or subsequent governing way bill (there could be reconsignments of reconsignments) had been cut. Diversion occurred to change the car's routing from that of the governing waybill . There could be diversions without reconsignments, and reconsignments without diversions albeit the latter would be rather rare.

Bananas were distributed quite differently than other fresh fruit and vegetables because that distribution was controlled by only two companies: - Standard Fruit and United Fruit. The companies cultivated the bananas in Central America and the West Indies; owned the banana boats which brought the fruit to the US (on all three coasts - Atlantic, Pacific & Gulf of Mexico) and Europe; and controlled the distribution of the product almost down to the individual retail market. After all, United's ad jingle was "I am a Chiquita Banana and I come to say..." with the Brazilian accent of Carmen Miranda. To whom would these companies reconsign their carloads of bananas?

I imagine that Effingham IL was used for shipments through New Orleans as a staging point for further rail movements throughout the Mid West. Effingham IL may have been the northernmost point on the IC's Southern Tariff District and Routing Guides. Shipments north of Effingham could be routed via Trunk Lines' (Eastern), or Western Districts subject to respectively Trunk or Western Routing Guides and Tariffs.

In contrast, there were no such oligopies controlling the transcontinental fresh fruit and vegetable movements from the West Coast. In that trade, packers usually shipped before the product was sold; the product would be sold to a broker en route who might sell to another broker, and so on. Each time the carload was sold would result in a reconsignment.

Diversions could take place with or without reconsignments as brokers tried to rout the carload of (non-banana) produce to markets where the best price was afforded. The boundaries of Tariff Districts usually had no play in making the decision to reconsign or divert.

You should treat the above as questions. Thanks,

Tim Gilbert

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