Re: New To Group - Question About Transporting Fish Via Ice Reefers

Donald B. Valentine

--- In STMFC@..., Al Daumann <sp-blackwidow@...> wrote:

    Both the model railroad club I belong to (Santa Susana Railroad Historical Society in Simi Valley, CA) and my home layout (10' x 12' bedroom, the Burney, Redding & Western set in Northern California in the late 1940s) have reefer traffic.  I hope to learn and hopefully, eventually contribute some to the group.  Initially, it will likely be more questions than answers.

  On my freelanced home model railroad, I am considering modeling the transportation of fresh ocean fish from Northern California (e.g. Eureka) to points inland (e.g. Redding) and was wondering whether fresh / fresh frozen fish was transported in iced reefers in the late 1940s / early 1950s?  If so, does any one have any links or references to "fish ops" or "fish reefers"?  If they existed, were "fish reefers" dedicated to fish only service (not sure folks would want their strawberries or magazines smelling like an old mackerel)?

 I'm looking for thoughts on if / how common it was to transport fish in reefers and how credible it would to model such service in Northern California in the late 40s / early 50s.

 Thanks in advance,

Al Daumann

Hello Al,

Guess I'll have to echo Tony for the most part but from the opposite side of the nation. Up into the early 1950's express reefers
with iced fresh fish and other seafood were regularly seen on The Gull, which operated between Boston, Mass. and Halifax, Nova Scotia
on a dailey basis via the B&M, MEC, CPR and CNR. It should be remembered that many of the people in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley
were the desecendants of the New England Planters. These were people
from Connecticut largely who responded to the Royal Governor's call in 1763 and 1764 for settlers to occupy farms abandoned by the French after the French & Indian War. In the last two decades of the 1800's many of the descendants of these people returned to New England, largely to the suburban Boston area. For the next 50 to 60 years it appears that it was largely these same people that contributed to a higher consumption of fish in the Boston area than found in many major cities. My own grandmother was one of these people and she worked for the B&M for 32 years. Fish was common on her table and she knew exactly when it came and when and where to get what she wanted at that best price! It seems hard to believe with the large fishing fleets in Gloucester and Cape Ann, not to mention Fall River and New Bedford, but that is the way things were in the first half of the 1900's in the Boston area. An express reefer of fish on The Gull was a regular thing and two cars were not uncommon.

Hope this helps even if not California based info, Don Valentine

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