Re: General covered hopper questions (Was: Re: Frisco PS2)

Shawn Beckert

Tim Gilbert wrote:

Compared to boxcars, covered hoppers were difficult to clean;
hence, railroad-owned covered hoppers were usually returned to
their point of origin empty while most empty boxcars were
reloaded before they returned to home rails. Accordingly, railroad-
owned covered hoppers were more tethered to their home road
than boxcars.
That does not answer the question as to how far from point of
origin they ranged. That depends upon the commodity carried.
For a covered hopper in cement service, that range was limited
because the cost of transportation, and thus, total cost of the
product to the consumer, escalated the further away from their
point of origin - cement being a low value commodity with
widespread cement plants nation wide.
In the early 1960's ( a tad beyond our time frame, but the point is
still relevant) Steve Patterson took a photo of Cotton Belt's "Motor
Special" arriving at the yard in Tyler, Texas - deep in SSW territory.
Right behind the train is an AT&SF 70-ton cement hopper, sitting
on one of the leads into the La Gloria oil refinery. I'd have to look at
a map, but IIRC the Santa Fe didn't get that close to the Cotton Belt
in that area - although they did cross the SSW at grade further down
at MacGregor.

Beyond giving me an excuse to buy one of Kadee's AT&SF PS-2's,
I've often wondered just what was in that hopper. Cement? Maybe,
although the SSW certainly had sources of cement online. In those
days, did cracking catalyst move in 70-ton hoppers? That would be
one commodity that the refinery would need, for sure. Without having
access to the appropriate records, I guess we'll never know...

Shawn Beckert

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