Bananas via Fruit Growers Express


Bill Welch
 

I have photos of bananas being transloaded from boats/ships into FGE cars in Tampa and have seen photos of this kind at the Port of Baltimore that I intend to acquire. There is also LofC image of an Armour owned FGE reefer being transloaded in New Orleans, circa 1905. I am not certain but I think the Port at Charleston, SC was another point for banana receiving and shipping. In fact as I write this there are documents in the Souther Archives at Kennisaw, GA about this traffic.


Question, is "transloading" the appropriate term?


Bill Welch


Charlie Vlk
 

 

The RAILWAY AGE for Dec 19, 1931 Vol 91 No 25 p.931 has an article about the CB&Q recently completing a Banana Warehouse at Minneapolis, Minn.  The “Q” was doing 350 carloads a month into and through Minneapolis.  Other fruits besides

bananas  could be handled at the facility which was designed to maintain interior temperatures between 45 and 70 degrees year round.

The building was 90 ft. by 200 ft. and was constructed as a corrugated iron Butler Building with “Nuwood” insulation on the interior.  Steam unit heaters supplied by oil fired boilers provided heat from a 24 ft x 24ft separate boiler house.

From the photographs it appeared to have two tracks and one track with a central driveway for truck unloading between them.

It was noted that the building used ready-mixed concrete instead of site prepared material.  

No mention was made in the article of where the banana traffic originated but it could have been from the IC connection at East Dubuque, IL where the IC line crosses the Mississippi into Iowa.

Charlie Vlk

 


George Eichelberger
 

Yes, Charleston, SC was an important banana importing point, particularly for loads going to the midwest on the Southern through Asheville, Knoxville and Cincinnati. The SRHA files at Kennesaw contain individual files for many banana boat arrivals. The facility was operated by the SR with only a small portion of the loads going to the SAL and ACL. Outbound loads in express cars on passenger trains was not common. Messages asking to send empty refrigerator cars to Charleston to be loaded proceeded every boat’s arrival. The boat files almost always include the reporting mark and number of every outbound car, if/where it was interchanged and its billed destination. Many cars destined to the midwest were diverted en route at Knoxville or Cincinnati so we do not know their actual end points. Single cars would be billed to grocery distributors in places like Asheville or Greensboro, NC.

Accumulating the cars to load appears to have been a mad dash to collect any empty refrigerator cars, from any owner, no matter if they were normally used for meat, fruit or vegetable service. Empty cars to Charleston received the highest priority with extra trains for them not unusual. Out bound consists have a much higher proportion of non-Fruit Growers cars than the peach or Fla citrus trains also operated by the Southern. (Was this because the pier and Charleston banana traffic was managed by the railroad?) A typical outbound banana train was operated as an extra movement, behind a 2-8-2, with 50-55 cars.

The files always include the names of the arriving ships. Obviously, the same ships reappear at Charleston but until someone does the research, we cannot say if there was a pattern to their movements. Most (all?) were owned by the United Fruit Co.


Cyril Durrenberger
 

Do you know the years that are covered by these files?

Cyril Durrenberger
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On Thu, 1/22/15, george eichelberger geichelberger@... [STMFC] <STMFC@...> wrote:

Subject: [STMFC] Re: Bananas via Fruit Growers Express
To: STMFC@...
Date: Thursday, January 22, 2015, 9:03 AM

Yes, Charleston, SC was an important
banana importing point, particularly for loads going to the
midwest on the Southern through Asheville, Knoxville and
Cincinnati. The SRHA files at Kennesaw contain individual
files for many banana boat arrivals. The facility was
operated by the SR with only a small portion of the loads
going to the SAL and ACL. Outbound loads in express cars on
passenger trains was not common. Messages asking to send
empty refrigerator cars to Charleston to be loaded proceeded
every boat’s arrival. The boat files almost always include
the reporting mark and number of every outbound car,
if/where it was interchanged and its billed destination.
Many cars destined to the midwest were diverted en route at
Knoxville or Cincinnati so we do not know their actual end
points. Single cars would be billed to grocery distributors
in places like Asheville or Greensboro, NC.

Accumulating the cars to load appears to have been a mad
dash to collect any empty refrigerator cars, from any owner,
no matter if they were normally used for meat, fruit or
vegetable service. Empty cars to Charleston received the
highest priority with extra trains for them not unusual. Out
bound consists have a much higher proportion of non-Fruit
Growers cars than the peach or Fla citrus trains also
operated by the Southern. (Was this because the pier and
Charleston banana traffic was managed by the railroad?) A
typical outbound banana train was operated as an extra
movement, behind a 2-8-2, with 50-55 cars.

The files always include the names of the arriving ships.
Obviously, the same ships reappear at Charleston but until
someone does the research, we cannot say if there was a
pattern to their movements. Most (all?) were owned by the
United Fruit Co.

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George Eichelberger
 

Cyril:

I have not looked at the date range on the SRHA Archive banana boat files in detail in some time (they are in the Kennesaw museum/SRHA archives) but I believe they are mostly 1950s and 60s. There is extensive data at Kennesaw on the SR’s Charleston banana, coal pier and WWII troop, prisoner and hospital trains to and from the ETO, all topics that need to be researched and published.

Ike


Cyril Durrenberger
 

Thanks,

Cyril Durrenberger
--------------------------------------------

On Thu, 1/22/15, george eichelberger geichelberger@... [STMFC] <STMFC@...> wrote:

Subject: [STMFC] Re: Bananas via Fruit Growers Express
To: STMFC@...
Date: Thursday, January 22, 2015, 1:56 PM

Cyril:

I have not looked at the date range on the SRHA Archive
banana boat files in detail in some time (they are in the
Kennesaw museum/SRHA archives) but I believe they are mostly
1950s and 60s. There is extensive data at Kennesaw on the
SR’s Charleston banana, coal pier and WWII troop, prisoner
and hospital trains to and from the ETO, all topics that
need to be researched and published.

Ike



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Yahoo Groups Links


    STMFC-fullfeatured@...


Bill Welch
 

A couple of random thoughts regarding perishable traffic on the Southern Railway.

In addition to the banana extras that the Southern ran, they had four regular trains identified in their Perishable Schedules that were basically north and northwesterly bound with Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina grown produce bound for urban centers in US and Canada.

Despite all of this important traffic and the revenue realized from it, the Southern remained the bane of FGE Management and the other owner railroads that comprised their Board of Directors with their refusal to participate financially through the years with various plans for improvements to the car fleet. During the first few years of FGE's existence, there were discussions among some of the owners to de-solve FGE and reform it without the Southern, so frustrated and angry were the other railroads.

Bill Welch


Garth Groff <sarahsan@...>
 

Friends,

Sounds like the Southern management lived up to their road's name with a streak of stiff-necked anti-Yankee independence. :~)

Seriously, the Southern bucked trends in several other ways. They stayed out of Amtrak for years, continuing to operate the Crescent on their own. And think of those high-hood diesels. It was a marvelous and unique railroad, right up to the last.

Yours Aye,


Garth Groff


On 1/22/15 8:55 PM, fgexbill@... [STMFC] wrote:
 

A couple of random thoughts regarding perishable traffic on the Southern Railway.


In addition to the banana extras that the Southern ran, they had four regular trains identified in their Perishable Schedules that were basically north and northwesterly bound with Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina grown produce bound for urban centers in US and Canada.

Despite all of this important traffic and the revenue realized from it, the Southern remained the bane of FGE Management and the other owner railroads that comprised their Board of Directors with their refusal to participate financially through the years with various plans for improvements to the car fleet. During the first few years of FGE's existence, there were discussions among some of the owners to de-solve FGE and reform it without the Southern, so frustrated and angry were the other railroads.

Bill Welch