Freight Conductors' Train Book, 1938 (summary of car contents)
Here are a few details about the contents of the cars from Ferguson's Freight Conductors' Train Book, May 13 to June 21, 1938. He listed the railroad and car number for 1,938 cars, and the contents (including empty) for 1,863 of them. The content of every one of the eastbound cars was given. All but one of the 75 cars whose contents were unlisted were on the first train in his book, a westbound freight.
As I transcribed Ferguson's data into an Excel spreadsheet, it was apparent that there was a substantial shift in the contents of the eastbound reefers between May and June. In May, the reefers carried a lot of lettuce and oranges, while those in June were led by carrots and potatoes. The two tables that follow document this change.
EB Reefer contents, May 1938 (carloads)
Canned goods 8
EB Reefer contents, June 1938 (carloads)
Cats 16 (I have no idea what this is!)
Dried Fruit 8
Not unexpectedly, over half of the westbound reefers were empty:
WB Reefer contents (carloads)
The eastbound box and auto cars, combined with the cars whose types are presently unknown, were dominated by loads of lumber. Next most common were empties:
EB contents of box, auto and unknown car types
MR 11 (What is "MR"?)
Canned goods 10
Co MR 9 (Company MR?)
Pr Coal 8 (Private coal vs. company coal?)
While the 10 cars carrying oil in the above list are probably tankers, this is not a foregone conclusion. In Ferguson's Book, one of the cars carrying oil is an M-K-T auto car, and four are UP reefers!
Empties led the list for westbound cars box, auto and unknown car types:
WB contents of box, auto and unknown car types
Co Mtl 6 (??? Company Metal?)
While perusing the above lists, one should keep in mind the following:
1. There were 20 east bound trains with 1,495 cars – Ferguson lists the railroad, number, and other details of 1,385 of these cars.
2. There were 21 westbound trains with 1,331 cars, of which Ferguson individually lists only 553 cars.