Re: Early train length laws

gary laakso

Its very odd to have a train length provision in a state constitution and its not something the usual politically connected interests want. The question is then "who benefits" and i don't think its the local coupler sales guy. Smell test remains a good test. My money says a couple of union members were on the drafting committee and they did some trades to get support for the provision. The post convention rationalizations by politicians tend to be camouflage.
Does the law apply to Mike Brock's layout?

gary laakso
south of Mike Brock

----- Original Message -----
From: George A. Walls
Sent: 9/17/2008 12:44:55 PM
Subject: [STMFC] Re: Early train length laws

This law was put in place by the people of AZ when developing the AZ
State Constitution in 1912 and voted on by the people of AZ. I've not
seen any reference to union involment. Santa Fe and SP railroads sued
the state of AZ in 1924 to get it overturned. Didn't work. Law was
set aside in 1942 because of WW2 and then later thrown out by Federal
Supreme Court in 1945, as was mentioned earlier. Some information on
this subject appears in David Myrick's book " Railroads of Arizona,
Vol 4, pg 192-194"

Several states have their own agencies that oversee railroad
operations in their states and have been sucessful in maintaining
those laws above what union or railroad wants.

George A Walls


Old timer guidance and historical recollections are great "original
sources" in my book. If it was not for "old timer sargents" steering
us straight we wouldn't have servived in the war zones either.

The final briefs are rather pure: statistically proving additional
safety risks vs. impeding free trade across the states.

Al Kresse

-------------- Original message --------------
From: "gary laakso" <vasa0vasa@...>
I spent 20 years in the ESPEE legal department and everyone there,
including the olde timers when i was a pup, told me it was union
lobbying for more work not coupler strength that was involved. If you
look at class 1 railroad employment and the timing of the laws, there
is a striking (no pun intended) correlation. There ought to be some
mention of the views of the parties in the Supreme Court case and the
briefs of the parties.

gary laakso
south of Mike Brock

----- Original Message -----
Sent: 9/17/2008 10:36:30 AM
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Re: Early train length laws


First, I don't doubt your very logical conclusion. Do you have any
pre-WWI "original source" documentation to back that up? . . . or
even a general book on railroad history during those times? Longer
trains would mean less train crews per ton moved. Looking at the
State of Virginia Laws and Codes on the internet I find that the
ministers were more influential in trying to ban movements of
trains "not completely filled" with interstate commerce on Sundays
(1908), or banning train crews from not being brought home before
Sunday services (1890s), or prohibiting sales of liquor on trains, or
even prohibiting passenger trains to pull reefers . . . because they
might carry German-style beer from Cincinnatti down to Newport News
(1890s). Plus, there were the Jim Crow laws.

Us Northerners up here in Michigan (born in Ashland, Kentucky)
aren't suppose to say anything about Southern Culture without
references to back it up.


Al Kresse

-------------- Original message --------------
From: "gary laakso" <vasa0vasa@...>
The state laws had much more to do wth union politics then coupler
strength. The laws were desiged to maximize union employment and or
overtime. The unions were pushing for federal laws to do the same

gary laakso
south of Mike Brock

----- Original Message -----
Sent: 9/17/2008 9:32:35 AM
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Re: Early train length laws

Thanks for finding support material relative to the 1912 Arizona 70-
car freight train length limit. Rationale appears to be to minimize
coupler failures resulting from higher slack-loads from longer trains?

My question is why would this affect C&O, N&W, and Virginian coal
traffic between Kentucky, Ohio, WV, and Virginia . . . and Tidewater?
Were other states considering maximum train length laws at the same
time? Ohio seemed to be progressive in mandating 24-ft, 8-wheeled
cabooses on interchange service circa 1914. it seems that these
railroads at that time had enough problems just finding loco power to
pull loaded coal trains up their grades . . much less making trains
longer than 70-cars (even though they were going towards 100-car
tracks in their coal classification yard improvements in the early

Al Kresse

-------------- Original message --------------
From: "James F. Brewer" <jfbrewer@...>
I believe this law was the basis for litigation that led to a
Supreme Court decision declaring it to be a violation of the
Interstate Commerce Act and therefore, unconstitutional.

Jim Brewer
Glenwood MD

----- Original Message -----
From: al_brown03
Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 5:12 PM
Subject: [STMFC] Re: Early train length laws

-- In, "al.kresse" <water.kresse@> wrote:


Maybe this a new subject?

Do we have any information on State Legist's attempting to
maximum number of freight cars allowed per train?
Yes. Arizona had a law limiting freight trains to 70 cars and
passenger trains to 14; in the forties the SP tested it, and SP
The law dated to 1912; I don't know how consistently it'd been

(Found this by googling "train length law". If the link wraps, you
may need to type in the last few characters.)

Al Brown, Melbourne, Fla.

Andrew Dow's great N&W Coal Car book refers to that being a
reason for building 120-ton and 90-ton "Battleship Gons" in the
late teens and early twenties. Do we have copies of specific
proposed rules?

Were there Federal proposes also?

Al Kresse

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