I have spent 50 years in the construction business and have much experience
with various "chalks" (sometimes called "keel") and have always suspected, but
have not verified, that RR car markings were done in a similar material. It is
slightly "greasier" than classrom chalk, therefore making a very clear and
bright mark. It came in white, yellow and blue and since blue does not
photograph well in old b&w film, some of the white markings may well be blue.
Mont's description fits this material perfectly.
--- Mont Switzer <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
The chalks that I recall seeing came from a large box clearly marked as and
marketed as "railroad chalk." The pieces were about 1 inch in diameter and
maybe 6 inches long. Each piece was flat on one end and rounded on the
other. These were heavy pieces of chalk as you would expect for writing on
RR cars and other industrial uses. All that I remember was white, but other
colors were certainly a possibility.
This chalk was nothing like what you would find in a classroom. Each
"stick" reminded me of the end of a small broom handle. They fit well in a
They had many uses in the transportation business.
Barry Roth <email@example.com> wrote:
Maybe filched from the pool room? This brings up another question:
what shape(s) were the chalks used on cars? Sticks like in classrooms
(breakable), or cakes (like some surveyors' chalks)?
Anthony Thompson <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
[...]West Coast photos in color from the 1950s show mostly white,
some yellow (Greg Martin is right that it might be hard to distinguish
white from PALE yellow, even in color, on a sunlit car, but by "yellow"
I mean a deep yellow). I have not been able to find a single instance
of blue. It would sure have been a distinctive color to use!
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