Re: 6 AM yard checks

Steve Lucas <stevelucas3@...>

Malcolm, I don't have knowledege of the era in STMFC in this regard,
but I know that yard clerks and train crews to this day go to some
trouble to make sure that car numbers are reported accurately. Such
simple things as crossing the number 7 when writing car numbers so as
to not have it confused with the number 1, and exercising care in
copying numbers down in the first place. This is not to say that
mistakes did not happen, but that they likely were the exception
rather than the rule.

I have a photocopy of a ledger of "grain passing through" a CN
elevator on Lake Huron in the 1940's. I ought to post a few pages
to STMFC, as it shows both the use of US cars for Canadian grain, and
very good penmanship (sadly, now a lost art) for an everyday

Steve Lucas.


Depending on what assumptions you make, you can spend 5 to ten
cents a car just doing the check. How does it help finding a lost
car. Take for example a yard with 1000 cars. I'd estimate that's
about 30 to 40 lists. At least a dozen of the car numbers will have
an error either in writing or in legibility. To find a lost car,
does a clerk try to read through all of those lists ? Or are the
lists checked against the waybill rack - more expense -, which works
only for loads and empty special equipment.

I could see that once a week to try to find cars that are really
lost. But daily ? On a whole railroad ? If the clerks are doing
their job so poorly that every day there are enough lost cars to make
the yard check pay for itself, are those same clerks who make a lot
of errors going to find them.

It would be interesting to know how many railroads actually did
that. I mentioned a few days ago several railroads that I'm pretty
sure didn't do full yard checks over the whole railraod..

Malcolm Laughlin, Editor 617-489-4383
New England Rail Shipper Directories
19 Holden Road, Belmont, MA 02478

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