Re: West India Fruit & Steamship #106 and #321

S hed <shed999@...>

Hey Rob,

I'm attaching a summation of West India Fruit and West Palm Beach Terminal RR operations.

I've always been interested in the WIF so I know enough to be dangerous. So I'll help if I can.

BTW, #106 is a class Bx-2 X-29 or a ARA 1923 steel box car (I'm not an expert on the differences) in the 101 to 199 series (10 cars total).

#321 is a class Bx-2 AC&F AAR 1944 steel box car from the 200 to 349 series (150 cars total) built in 1952.

The WIF main business was moving people and cargo from Cuba to the US. It purchased this operation from the Florida East Coast Ferry Company in 1946 and operated ferries from 1946 until 1961 when Castro and company basically kicked them out. They moved the operation from Port Everglades to Port of Palm Beach in 1946 because of the better yard facilities. The West Palm Beach Terminal RR handled the switching of cars and I believe the FEC was the only outlet to the rest of the US.

So how did those two WIF box cars get to Vancouver? Well since Cuba was a large source of fruit, tobacco, and other agri commodities, it could mean that it was delivering those goods to Vancouver. And cars going back to Cuba probably were loaded with some Canadian paper goods.

Cuba depends a lot on importing finished wood products and lumber from the US and Canada during this time period. In fact there is a shortage of toilet paper in Cuba right now. So it could be as simple as that as to why WIF cars were spotted in Vancouver with the possible routing of Havana - Port of Palm Beach, FL - Vancouver and back again.

- Steve H., Everett, WA

To: STMFC@...
From: rdkirkham@...
Date: Mon, 24 Aug 2009 21:20:45 -0700
Subject: [STMFC] West India Fruit & Steamship #106 and #321

I've come across a couple of photos showing the above noted cars in Vancouver B.C. in 1952. That's a long way for a load of bananas to come by rail, and kind of surprising to me. So I am wondering if my guesswork is out of whack or this trip would have been repeated over the years. More particularly, what is the chance such movements would have been made in 1946? I ask not because I expect someone to know what cars travelled in those cars to Vancouver that year, but rather for a general sense of the banana trade in these cars - did anything significant change in the market or marketing of bananas by this company during those 6 years that might suggest a change?

I do have records showing the produce shipped into Vancouver for 1953, and it identifies Central America alone as the source. But is says nothing about whether shipments were delivered via one route or multiple routes, and so it seems possible they might have arrived by train from an east coast Canadian port, by train from a Gulf or Atlantic coast USA port (explaining the cars in question), or via ship at a west coast Canadian port. I wonder if there is any information supporting any of these alternatives to the WIF&SS service?

Thanks in advance for any leads I can follow.

Rob Kirkham
Surrey, B.C.

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