Baggage cars on the Overland Route 1938

Wendye Ware

Hello All

The recent discussion of baggage cars on freight trains prompted me to estimate how common they were on the Union Pacific mainline between Laramie and Rawlins, Wyoming. The data below are extracted from sixteen Freight Conductors' Train Books compiled by as many conductors from September 26 to October 2, 1938. During this one week span 108 trains and 6,545 cars were recorded. There were eighteen baggage cars, divided among seven trains, which suggests that they common enough to have been seen most any day.

On three of the trains the baggage cars were at or near the front of the train and the trains were heading west; on four they were just ahead of the caboose and the trains were heading east. I have no idea whether this is a coincidence or some sort of blocking strategy. Typically there were other non-freight cars nearby, such as Pullman "Tourist" cars; chair, mail, and coach cars, and on one train five dead-heading cabeese. Except for the oddball cars, the trains were typical of other freights on the UP Overland Route at that time.

Here is some info about the trains and cars:

Conductor Fitz, W bound, 30 cars: Just behind the engine were UP 1922, UP 1111, PLM 2007, and PLM 2103, a baggage car, chair car and two "Tourist" cars, respectively. The Pullmans were dead-heading to Salt Lake City while the two UP cars had contents "Wrk" and were going to Ogden.

Conductor Estes, E bound, 74 cars: Forward from the caboose was a mail car, baggage car, coach, baggage – all UP with respective numbers 2045, 3058, 1106 and 1895. Five dead-heading UP cabeese were ahead of them. Cars 2045 and 3058 were empties headed for Council Bluffs; the coach, other baggage car, and all the cabeese were headed for Cheyenne.

Conductor Fraley, W bound, 89 cars: At the front were two UP baggage cars, 1780 and 3037. The contents of both were labeled "DCH". Most of the rest of the train consisted of PFE empties.

Conductor Fraley, E bound, 65 cars: Forward of the caboose were five dead-heading baggage cars: NYC 7833, NYC 7597, UP 1114, UP 2013, and NYC 7878. UP 1114 was headed for Cheyenne, the others for Council Bluffs. The rest of the train was loaded PFE reefers.

Conductor Orleans, E bound, 73 cars: At the rear of the train were five SP baggage cars heading for Council Bluffs – 7247, 7236, 7238, 7243, and 7233. The contents were listed as "X Horse". Most of the rest of the train was PFE reefers.

Conductor Orleans, W bound, 48 cars: The fourth car back from the engine was UP 1921, a baggage car loaded with mail and heading for Ogden. Behind it was UP chair car 1111 also headed for Ogden. This was followed by a Pullman "Tour" car with contents "BH Tour" headed for Oakland. The remainder of the train was a mixed freight.

Conductor Vasconcellos, E bound, 65 cars: Ahead of the caboose was UP 3085, UP 2040, and UP 1921. UP 2040 was a "Mail" car, the other two were baggage cars. UP 3085 and 2040 were headed for Council Bluffs, the 1921 for Cheyenne.

I checked the January 1938 ORER to see whether the cars that the conductors labled "Bag" or "Bg" were in fact baggage cars. Eight of the ten UP cars had A.A.R. Mech. Designation BA or BE and were described as a baggage car of some sort. UP 1114 had Mech. Des. PB (Chair) and UP 2013 was MR (Postal). All three of the NYC cars had Mech. Des. BA(e). The ORER did not list any of the SP passenger cars. Perhaps someone on the list can tell me whether they are baggage or horse cars?

I should mention that the Train Books used for the above analysis are among the 155 found in the Laramie Railroad Depot over the past year. One of the books from 1951 is on-line:

Best wishes,
Larry Ostresh
Laramie, Wyoming

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