Re: WEX: Is it real... or is it Red Ball?

Richard Hendrickson

On Jul 21, 2007, at 1:53 PM, Tom Madden wrote:

Denny Anspach wrote:

> Hauling cable reels or telephone poles would not be ordinary
> activities expected of wholly-owned equipment manufacturer Western
> Electric, while it might well be expected of parent AT&T.
> However, as pointed out, Western Electric was already in the
> railroad business with its well established Manufacturer's
> Junction Railway in Cicero/Chicago.
> Could it be that for internal simplicity and convenience, AT&T
> would simply assign all of its own cars to Western Electric
> reporting marks so that all were under a single roof?

Most likely. Those of us in the Bell Labs research area weren't
subjected to the full Bell System corporate brainw ^H^H^H^H^H^H
philosophy and history seminars. But my recollection is that Western
Electric, in addition to its manufacturing role, was also AT&T's
property manager. AT&T and Western Electric each owned 50% of Bell
Labs, but Western Electric owned the buildings and was our landlord.
It makes sense that any Bell System railroad equipment would have
also been owned by Western Electric.

In the glory days of Ma Bell (pre-1969), the focus was on universal
service. Part of that was being able to respond to massive service
outages in an almost heroic fashion. This required that large
amounts of materiel be shipped and stored at depots all over the
country. The further back in time you go, the less likely it is that
highway transport would have been the best and most reliable way to
accomplish that. I am reluctant to draw any conclusions about whose
rail equipment would have been used, but having some company-owned
rolling stock, especially back in the 1920's when so much of the
infrastructure was up on poles and vulnerable to severe weather,
seems justifiable.
That all seems plausible, Tom, but the prototype for the model in
question (if there actually was a prototype) could not have been used
for anything but on-site storage, since the WEX reporting marks weren't
in the ORERs; such a car could not have been used to deliver materials
to overcome massive service outages since it could not have been
operated in interchange.

Richard Hendrickson

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