Re: Freight car Distribution - Larry Kline

soolinehistory <destorzek@...>

--- In STMFC@..., Tim O'Connor <timboconnor@...> wrote:

Naturally double door cars were desirable for lumber, but
lots of lumber was shipped in ordinary 40' single door cars
too. In the 1960's I enjoyed watching a crew of young guys
struggling to unload a 40' car load of "random" lumber (it
looked like an exploded pick-up-stix game). Those "lumber
doors" in 40' box cars weren't there for decoration -- when
the shipper couldn't get any more pieces through the doorway
he threw them in through the door in the end of the car! And
the unloading crew got to untangle the mess.

I'm going to theorize that the "pick-up-stix" mess was caused by the rambunctious and inexperienced unloading crew, not the mill. If they left it that way overnight and all those boards developed a crook, they were likely looking for new jobs the next day.

Dad was a carpenter who augmented his income by doing a heck of a lot of weekend and evening "side jobs" when I was a kid, and I spent a lot of time in lumber yards during the fifties and sixties. Unlike the big box home centers of today, lumber was a commodity that was treated with respect, to preserve its value, none of that just throw it in the bin business. Lumber was moved by hand, several sticks at a time, from the boxcar to a truck; from the truck to a neat stack in the shed; from the stack onto the truck for delivery. If someone went to the lumber yard to pick up their own order, the "yard man" picked the order and wheeled it up front, or had the customer spot his truck and loaded it. Having "pickin' privileges" was an honor not to be abused, since it could save maybe maybe 7 - 8% of the cost of the material on a job. Leave the man's stacks jumbled, and you didn't get pickin' privileges again. Lumber yards managed their stock; when the yard man had nothing else to do he gathered up the "crooks", took them to the saw shed, and made them into something salable, like pre-cut concrete stakes.

Speaking of lumber -- anyone know when the first "wrapped"
lumber loads began? I mean the neat stacks of same-length
pieces, all nicely wrapped up. I'm guessing it was sometime
in the 1950's, since that's when wrapped drywall loads on
flats appeared.
I still remember lumber in boxcars in 1959 or '60, maybe a couple years later. Drywall also originally was shipped in boxcars, which must have been an absolutely miserable job to unload. Drywall lent itself to shipping on bulkhead flats, since it was large flat sheets and it didn't have to be piled very high to max out the car's capacity. Lumber was a different story; while large timbers could and were shipped on flatcars, the pile of dimensional lumber got awfully high and tippy before the car's load limit was reached. Greg Martin could likely tell us more, but I don't think dimensional lumber was ever shipped on standard flats, remember that the transitional car was the "Thrall-door" boxcar, which was introduced when, mid sixties? Those cars had a central structure, since they didn't have any sides, and it was only a short leap to the early center beam flats, but all this happened well after 1960.


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