Re: conductor's reefer data

Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>

Tim O'Connor wrote:
Tony, it would be fascinating to know if you could correlate the number of ART cars (which really surprises me!) with known traffic
patterns for ART, like the annual peach crop from western Colorado or produce (watermelons and canteloupes) from south Texas. What I'm driving at is, wondering why so many ART reefers would show up in California?
Tim, it sounds like you're assuming they were all confiscated as empties. I doubt many of them were in that category, same as the MDT and BAR and FGEX cars. When I interviewed Pete Holst, PFE's Assistant General Manager for Car Service (or if you will, Car Distribution) for many years, he explained that PFE had NEVER owned enough cars to quite cover peak harvest seasons, but instead had relied on agreements with other car lines to supply empties at critical times. I feel sure that the numerous reefers from far away which are in my statistics are there by agreement, not by confiscation, and likely arrived on the SP as empties so they could be loaded. After all, ART (or whoever) received mileage payments both directions, and would have been happy to keep the cars moving, unless of course they needed them for a particular harvest season of their own.

In my modeling era 10 years later, the BAR had acquired a lot more reefers, and from photos we know that at some times of year (spring/ summer) a lot of BAR reefers were used for PFE loads out of northern California.
Very true, and Pete Holst said the agreement with BAR reached back before WW II. Whether they were largely used in another region, or if the statistics I happen to have for Salinas are in some way unrepresentative, I don't know. I do have two BAR reefer models in my own fleet, so I certainly intend to duplicate that usage.
I might add that I vividly recall Tim Gilbert once saying to a group of people at Cocoa Beach that he felt terribly frustrated by the microscopically narrow samples of freight cars provided by such sources as time books, and that he desperately wished he could find more data, much more data. Now I know how he felt.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@...
Publishers of books on railroad history

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