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NWU Transportation Library report
Dave Nelson <muskoka@...>
I was in Chicago this past week working at Northwestern University where I
copied a bunch of stuff from their Copeland files. As Copeland maps has
come up before in conversation I thought I'd recap what I found there.
The Copeland files have a max of 4 reports for a given year for a given
railroad. Their purpose is to demonstrate to bondholders that the bond they
hold (secured by property mortgaged by the railroad) was for a viable
business route as nobody wanted to be holding bonds where the road could
choose to default and say take it as it's only worth scrap. The reports take
the form of a) an overview map, either route or corporate structure, neither
of which was of much interest to me; b) a route density ratio report for
those routes that have been mortgaged, not of much interest to me; c) an
annual interchange report - this was very interesting... some variation in
content, either total cars given, received at specific locations to specific
roads or same data but no location; and d) tonnage miles maps - these too
were interesting... these are oft seen maps where the ton miles are
represented as a number of parallel lines to the route w/ each line
represent some large number of ton miles per road mile. The map size varied
by road as you would expect but it seemed the minimum size I saw was 4
square feet (I was told some of the maps exceed 50 square feet). The
documents themselves are old, printed on heavy paper (probably high rag
content -- good), many folds (not good) and care must be taken when
unfolding and making copies.
I used an ordinary copy machine that was loaded with 11x17 paper; most of
the maps I copied took a minimum of 5 pages to capture the whole route. If
you buy a copy card each page costs 8 cents. There are oversize copiers
elsewhere in the library complex which use a roll of very wide paper and can
do these maps in just one pass -- $1.50 per map. The fellow who knew how to
operate the machine was off this week so I didn't get to use it.
Most of the documents were dated in the 1930's, some earlier, more later.
Roads covered were those who had mortgaged their routes and the NWU holdings
were not complete as only a few roads had many successive years. I noticed
the DRGW, ERIE, and WM files were very thick, UP very thin. Harvard and
Stanford also have Copeland material and it would not surprise me if all
three collections are largely complementary (i.e., few duplicates).
The Copeland holdings at NWU are not on open shelves. The library staff was
a bit cautious at first but when satisfied I was a serious researcher
instead of your typical drooling railfan / paper thief they relaxed and
became interested in what I was doing and were quite helpful. The library
director told me he wanted to digitize the collection but whether funds
would become available was unknown.
As for the other material in the library while most of the collection was
newer than 1960, I noted an extensive collection of older AAR weekly traffic
reports (bound) which are quite useful in determining the seasonality of
traffic volume on a road (weekly sum of cars loaded for grain, coal, ore,
lumber, merch, misc, and cars received). I also found a number of 1950's
ICC 1% waybill reports, most of which I've seen locally so I just skimmed
thru them... one that was new to me was car type by commodity class (the
rows) by lading weight (the columns). I noticed reefers were used for far
more commodity classes than I expected (I knew of printed material, merch,
etc) but many dirty loads were cited too (e.g., fertilizer). Another thing
I noticed was the use of gondolas and flats for l.c.l. Not too surprising
when you think of it but then who thinks anymore when you can simply pose
the question to this list?
Lastly, I stumbled upon a collection of Canadian data (I can hear Tony groan
already), which I copied. For each province: Tonnage and carloads
originated; tonnage received from US points for Canada; tonnage received
from US points for the US, tonnage terminated, tonnage delivered to the US.
Similar data by railroad (including those US roads w/ track in Canada).
Similar data for east to west within Canada. I suspect the data can
determine net exports to the US by commodity class (one back of the envelope
calculation was on autos and auto parts and the number was suprisingly
small). IIRC total tonnage to the US in the years I examined was around 19
million (including pass thru routing above Lake Erie). Not a lot. It'll
take me many months to work thru the data so the above statement on auto
parts may not prove correct on proper examination.
So counting airfare, car, etc., I spent about $500 in order to spend ~$25 at
a copy machine (at 8 cents a page). Go figure. 8-)
tim gilbert <tgilbert@...>
Dave,toggle quoted message Show quoted text
Many thanks for your NWU Transportation Library Report. I should
probably take an extra day while I am in Naperville to go over and
From "our" point view, I believe that the most worthwhile of the
Copeland files are the Interchange Reports because they deal with loaded
cars, and not tons.
The tonnage density maps which I have seen include the coordinates which
were the net tons carried in each direction between station or junction
A to/from station or junction B. Do the maps you copied have these
Since these coordinates are arranged alphabetically, they have to be
sorted into station order after the data is transferred to a spreadsheet
- a thankless task for a large railroad with many diverging lines. The
changes along the line will represent the net of the tons received or
delivered along the line for each direction. By multiplying the distance
between stations, net ton miles can be calculated. The aggregation of
these net ton miles into a total for each direction can be compared with
total loaded car miles in each direction.
Still, there is the need to convert these tons into cars, and this
should be a very inexact conversion because of the disparity between the
densities of cars carrying bulk materials like coal versus
Dave Nelson wrote:
Dave Nelson <muskoka@...>
toggle quoted message Show quoted text
The tonnage density maps which I have seen include the coordinates whichIn most cases yes but always a map showing the same data graphically.
Dave Nelson wrote:
So counting airfare, car, etc., I spent about $500 in order tospend ~$25 at
a copy machine (at 8 cents a page). Go figure. 8-)The plight of the serious researcher. Trips to the Newberry cost me a
minimum of $100 a day just to be there (if I stay in a fleabag
hotel), plus whatever it costs to get there. Flying, driving and
Amtrak all cost about the same, considering the expense of a night on
the road each way if driving, and an extra night in Chicago if
arriving late afternoon on Amtrak.
It's not the cost, it's the value of the information you can
retrieve. And your research becomes more and more efficient with each
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