Jim, the list Clark cited is from a Fairfax MN (MSTL) Seal Book 1947 - 48, a
record kept by the local agent showing every car for which he affixed a car
seal. Fairfax is west of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) on the M&StL
mainline to South Dakota. Fairfax is a small rural community. There were no
packing plants in Fairfax, though there were a number of them in the Twin
Here is the original message posted to the MSTL list about the origin of
I purchased a seal book that is from 1947-48 for Fairfax, MN. It gives the
train number, car number and seal number plus where it is going to or from
There are reefer cars of meat that have a seal on when they arrive and a
different seal when they leave. Were these lcl cars for the grocery stores?
Or would the ice hatches have seals? A few have a note that says made empty.
One train was extra 620 which would mean that the 2-8-2's were used on this
line, probably at least to Morton. Sam
To which Clark responded:
The agent would have resealed the cars after the locals (people) removed
their goods. That would hold true for the reefers as well. Usually reefers
had icing instructions, but no seals on their hatches. Sounds like a very
interesting book. It sure would be nice to put it into a computer spread
sheet format and add it to the group's files.
As to the origin of the meat in the PFE reefers. Southern Minn had a number
of meat packers, South St Paul was a meat packing center. And canned meat
was quite common before the advent of home freezers, and still is, ever have
canned ham? Or Spam? The Hormel plant in Austin MN was the first to can
hams, and Deckers in Mason City (on the M&StL) was the second. Spam is a
Hormel brand name. Many of these meat packers were more than slaughter
houses, they prepared meat and meat products that would be shipped in boxes:
ie bacon, lard, luncheon meats, and so forth. All would have needed to be
refrigerated, but not need meat hooks/rails
We saw a large number of produce reefers (mostly SFRD) on the M&StL because
the of the direct connection with the ATSF at Nemo, Ill. This connection was
a major source of produce for the Twin Cities, and Minnesota in general. The
same list shows a number of SFRD cars at Fairfax with the same loads, meat
and beer. I suspect that the Twin Cities also saw a large number of PFE
reefers, perhaps they came up on the Omaha line from it's connection with
the UP at Omaha. No doubt local agents "borrowed" the reefers for meat
Iowa Central Railroad
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