Re: Rice Shipments By Rail

Dave & Libby Nelson <muskoka@...>

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Hendrickson [mailto:rhendrickson@...]
I'd say that Calif.
rice was transported almost entirely in box cars through the 1950s and well
into the 1960s. In fact, it probably wasn't until the 1970s that covered
hoppers would have outnumbered XMs in this service.
**much speculation with the occasional inserted fact follows**

One should not overlook that a lot of rice is milled into flour for use in the
manufacture of baby food -- not just rice cerial but as a thickener in the
small jars of orange, beige, and green that Gerber sells. Likely that flour
would have been bagged and shipped in boxcars. And I will hazzard another
guess that in the steam era there were more Americans consuming baby foods
than rice grain.

I looked again at the ICC data (some data from 1950, others from 1956). In
1950 and 1956 rice carloading averaged 48 tons/car; California rice shipments
in 1950 were ~78,000 tons, so there where an estimated 1625 carloadings for
the year. In 1956 (which I'll guess wasn't significantly different than 1950)
the SN originated over 800 carloads of rice, WP had 4. If 1950 and 1956 were
indeed fairly close in total rail shippments of rice, one could conclude the
SN originated about half the crop, the WP none, leaving the other half to the
SP. As the WP did the long shipment of rice originated by the SN, their
revenue, not the SN's, would more closely approximate what the SP would earn.
For 1950, the WP got $5.94/ton, or $282/carload of rice (virtually the same as
corn and a bit more than either cement or sugar).

Would the SP invested in specialized cars for 800 carloadings a year,
equivalent to 39,000 tons?

Well, rice left in the hull can sit for a year, maybe two, with little loss of
quality. I'd guess then that shipments of grain from rice mills could have
been spread rather evenly across the year. For the example data above, the SP
share would have averaged 66 carloadings a month... assuming a 10-14 day cycle
time, they could have meet the needs with 30 cars. I doubt they've have even
been aware they had the business much less considered an investment for it.

Lastly, to add a bit of perspective, rail shipment of cement producted in
California in 1950 was over 1.3 million tons. That was probably noticed by the

Dave Nelson

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