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Photo: Loading Raw Silk


Bob Chaparro
 

Photo: Loading Raw Silk

A 1930 photo from the University of Southern California Digital Library:

http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll65/id/11274

This photo can be enlarged quite a bit.

Description: "Photograph of raw silk from Japan being loaded into railroad cars for shipment to New York City, September 17, 1930. A long boxcar stretches across the image from left to right. A wooden ramp leads up to a set open double doors in the middle of the car, and a worker can be seen pushing a dolly loaded with bags of silk into the car. Another man can be seen standing inside the railroad car. The freighter Tokai Maru brought the cargo to Los Angeles Harbor from Japan."

This looks like an express reefer to me.

Bob Chaparro

Hemet, CA


mel perry
 

looks like they are loading multiple
cars at the same time, is that a reefer
they are loading?  don't recognize the
"boxcar" construction?
mel perry


On Mon, Jun 8, 2020, 9:01 AM Bob Chaparro via groups.io <chiefbobbb=verizon.net@groups.io> wrote:

Photo: Loading Raw Silk

A 1930 photo from the University of Southern California Digital Library:

http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll65/id/11274

This photo can be enlarged quite a bit.

Description: "Photograph of raw silk from Japan being loaded into railroad cars for shipment to New York City, September 17, 1930. A long boxcar stretches across the image from left to right. A wooden ramp leads up to a set open double doors in the middle of the car, and a worker can be seen pushing a dolly loaded with bags of silk into the car. Another man can be seen standing inside the railroad car. The freighter Tokai Maru brought the cargo to Los Angeles Harbor from Japan."

This looks like an express reefer to me.

Bob Chaparro

Hemet, CA


Richard Townsend
 

Probably an express reefer. Silk got very special handling and its movement was expedited.

Richard Townsend
Lincoln City, OR


-----Original Message-----
From: mel perry <clipper841@...>
To: main@realstmfc.groups.io
Sent: Mon, Jun 8, 2020 9:53 am
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Photo: Loading Raw Silk

looks like they are loading multiple
cars at the same time, is that a reefer
they are loading?  don't recognize the
"boxcar" construction?
mel perry


On Mon, Jun 8, 2020, 9:01 AM Bob Chaparro via groups.io <chiefbobbb=verizon.net@groups.io> wrote:
Photo: Loading Raw Silk
A 1930 photo from the University of Southern California Digital Library:
This photo can be enlarged quite a bit.
Description: "Photograph of raw silk from Japan being loaded into railroad cars for shipment to New York City, September 17, 1930. A long boxcar stretches across the image from left to right. A wooden ramp leads up to a set open double doors in the middle of the car, and a worker can be seen pushing a dolly loaded with bags of silk into the car. Another man can be seen standing inside the railroad car. The freighter Tokai Maru brought the cargo to Los Angeles Harbor from Japan."
This looks like an express reefer to me.
Bob Chaparro
Hemet, CA


Thomas Evans
 

If I recall correctly, there were special super-fast "silk trains" at one time.
Now I'm curious to know more.

Tom E.


Jim Betz
 

Tom,
  Yes, the silk trade was the hottest stuff on the railroads for almost a decade.
I believe that the primary route was from Asia to the Western U.S. by ship,
to the Eastern U.S. by rail, and then to Europe by ship.  Either the raw
silk or sometimes even the silkworms in their cucoons were shipped
live and they could only live so long and the ship trip around either
Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope was much more time -
remember that in those days (let's say "the 20's") the primary marine
shipping was still sail.  I do not know why the worms/raw silk was so
perishable - but perhaps it wasn't that so much as rushing it to a very
lucrative market.
  On the Great Northern they had a unique class of locomotives that
were used for the silk trade - the 4-8-2 P-2s.  The Charles Wood book
on the GN has an entire chapter devoted to it called "The P-2s Ran
The Silk" and there is this as well from the GNRHS

http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/54/v54i01p016-031.pdf

  I don't know which other RRs had silk trains - but if you google "Great
Northern Silk" you will get a lot of hits to more info.  Just bypass all the
stuff for books from sources like Amazon!
                                                                                         - Jim


Paul Doggett
 

Jim

The SP had silk and tea cars especially for that service. Just how long they lasted in that service I don’t know.

Paul Doggett   England 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 



On 9 Jun 2020, at 14:45, Jim Betz <jimbetz@...> wrote:

Tom,
  Yes, the silk trade was the hottest stuff on the railroads for almost a decade.
I believe that the primary route was from Asia to the Western U.S. by ship,
to the Eastern U.S. by rail, and then to Europe by ship.  Either the raw
silk or sometimes even the silkworms in their cucoons were shipped
live and they could only live so long and the ship trip around either
Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope was much more time -
remember that in those days (let's say "the 20's") the primary marine
shipping was still sail.  I do not know why the worms/raw silk was so
perishable - but perhaps it wasn't that so much as rushing it to a very
lucrative market.
  On the Great Northern they had a unique class of locomotives that
were used for the silk trade - the 4-8-2 P-2s.  The Charles Wood book
on the GN has an entire chapter devoted to it called "The P-2s Ran
The Silk" and there is this as well from the GNRHS

http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/54/v54i01p016-031.pdf

  I don't know which other RRs had silk trains - but if you google "Great
Northern Silk" you will get a lot of hits to more info.  Just bypass all the
stuff for books from sources like Amazon!
                                                                                         - Jim


mrvant@rogers.com
 

There is a good description of the silk trains in Canada at the link. CPR dominated with their own steamships. The trade in Canada started in 1887 and petered out in 1930s with the depression and competition from Japanese ships using the Panama Canal to get to New York. Eventually rayon replaces silk. Special lighter weight cars, shorter than box cars, equipped with passenger car trucks were used to transport raw silk on special high speed trains that had the highest priority on the railway. The market for the Canadian railways was also in New York.

The silk cars later showed up in express baggage service. They had distinctive centre doors and were shorter.

Malcolm Vant

https://www.canadashistory.ca/explore/transportation/canada-s-silk-road

 


spsalso
 

The Silk Road was established hundreds of years ahead of steam powered trains, and I strongly suspect the travel time for the product was quite lengthy, compared to the latter.

Here is some commentary on current raw silk transport:

https://www.tis-gdv.de/tis_e/ware/fasern/seide/seide-htm/#informationen

Note that there is no comment about time sensitivity FOR THE PRODUCT.  Note also that it can be transported in containers or on airplanes.  Again with no apparent time sensitivity.  Aside from rats or water, it's pretty stable.

I believe the reason for the emphasis on high-speed transport of silk was to get it to market first, because that drew higher prices.  Silk production is seasonal, so whoever delivered the first batch got the big bucks.  For that matter, the last trainload might be almost worthless IF demand was low for silk.  Of course, to then boost demand, prices could be lowered.  Not something most capitalists yearn for.

Also, because of the high value of silk at the time these trains were running, the added cost of moving it at high speed was proportionally less.  


Ed

Edward Sutorik


Garth Groff and Sally Sanford
 

Friends,

I didn't know this until recently--the rayon Malcolm mentioned is made from wood pulp. One of the principal producers of rayon was . . . stand by for this . . . Rayonier Incorporated (later ITT Rayonier). While it doesn't quite fit in with our interest in freight cars, Rayonier had extensive logging railroads, and ran one of the last big Pacific Northwest "steam shows" into the 1960s. Of course they had freight cars: log cars of various kinds (mandatory freight car content).

Circa 1969 my father and I were allowed access to one of their operations, IIRC at Railroad Camp. We were able to photograph their remaining steam locomotives including ex-Sierra 38. None were operating then, as the operation was all-diesel. And I turned my nose up at their Baldwins. (Sheesh!).

Yours Aye,


Garth Groff  🦆



On Tue, Jun 9, 2020 at 10:12 AM mrvant@... <mrvant@...> wrote:

There is a good description of the silk trains in Canada at the link. CPR dominated with their own steamships. The trade in Canada started in 1887 and petered out in 1930s with the depression and competition from Japanese ships using the Panama Canal to get to New York. Eventually rayon replaces silk. Special lighter weight cars, shorter than box cars, equipped with passenger car trucks were used to transport raw silk on special high speed trains that had the highest priority on the railway. The market for the Canadian railways was also in New York.

The silk cars later showed up in express baggage service. They had distinctive centre doors and were shorter.

Malcolm Vant

https://www.canadashistory.ca/explore/transportation/canada-s-silk-road

 


mrvant@rogers.com
 

I believe one of the reasons for speed was that insurance was paid per day. The trains were sometimes carrying a cargo worth over $1M. A lot of money then. Articles I have read also indicated the cargo was perishable. If they shipped it with live silk worms I could see that. I haven’t been able to track down exactly why raw silk was perishable yet. Raw silk is coated in a gummy substance that has to be removed by boiling in water before the silk is usable.


spsalso
 

Reading through the link I posted earlier:

https://www.tis-gdv.de/tis_e/ware/fasern/seide/seide-htm/#informationen

there is no indication that raw silk is perishable.  Thus there is no consequent need for speed.  

The end product of the process we are looking at is to place raw silk in the warehouses of sellers of same.  In my very brief education in silk production, I don't see any indication that silk was shipped with live silk worms included.  Labor costs for converting the live cocoons would almost surely be lower at the point of origin, and shipping would be cheaper and safer for the product.

The point about the insurance is interesting.  I wonder if the railroads self-insured instead.


Ed

Edward Sutorik



On Wed, Jun 10, 2020 at 07:22 AM, mrvant@... wrote:
I believe one of the reasons for speed was that insurance was paid per day. The trains were sometimes carrying a cargo worth over $1M. A lot of money then. Articles I have read also indicated the cargo was perishable. If they shipped it with live silk worms I could see that. I haven’t been able to track down exactly why raw silk was perishable yet. Raw silk is coated in a gummy substance that has to be removed by boiling in water before the silk is usable.


Bob Chaparro
 

On Wed, Jun 10, 2020 at 08:42 AM, spsalso wrote:
there is no indication that raw silk is perishable.  Thus there is no consequent need for speed.  
Yes, there is no need for speed due to silk not being perishable. But the need for speed can be required by other factors, such market conditions, insurance, etc., as pointed out by others.
Bob Chaparro
Hemet, CA


spsalso
 

I mentioned a couple of those reasons for speed in my earlier post.

As I envision the hoopla accompanying the silk shipments, I also see another benefit from railroad speed:  self-promotion.

"Sure they're fast.  But we're FASTER!  Just look at the last running time!  We're BETTER than that other line!"

Sometimes it seemed kind of over-the-top.  This could explain why.


Ed

Edward Sutorik


On Wed, Jun 10, 2020 at 08:58 AM, Bob Chaparro wrote:
On Wed, Jun 10, 2020 at 08:42 AM, spsalso wrote:
there is no indication that raw silk is perishable.  Thus there is no consequent need for speed.  
Yes, there is no need for speed due to silk not being perishable. But the need for speed can be required by other factors, such market conditions, insurance, etc., as pointed out by others.
Bob Chaparro
Hemet, CA


Tim O'Connor
 


It was incredibly valuable cargo. Why are so many non-perishable products (MILLIONS of TONS) now
shipped by air? Because it's so valuable that the higher transportation cost is negligible. It's hard to steal from
a fast moving train (or airplane). :-)


On 6/10/2020 12:08 PM, spsalso via groups.io wrote:
I mentioned a couple of those reasons for speed in my earlier post.

As I envision the hoopla accompanying the silk shipments, I also see another benefit from railroad speed:  self-promotion.

"Sure they're fast.  But we're FASTER!  Just look at the last running time!  We're BETTER than that other line!"

Sometimes it seemed kind of over-the-top.  This could explain why.

Edward Sutorik


--
Tim O'Connor
Sterling, Massachusetts


spsalso
 

It may be an error to assume the railroad needed any significant insurance for the raw silk load.

They may have required the SHIPPER to buy any "excess" insurance.

That has happened to many of us when we ship, when we are asked if we want to pay for extra insurance on our expensive shipment.  The shipping company (UPS, USPS) doesn't pay for that; the shipper (YOU) does.  So it may also have been the same for the silk shipments.


Ed

Edward Sutorik


spsalso
 

Tim,

Yes, it's hard to steal from a fast moving train.  And it's hard to steal from a train moving at "regular" speed.  I'd say the difficulty is about the same.

Now, a STOPPED train is different.  And that concept applies to both fast and slow trains.  And dealing with that problem would be similar for both fast and slow trains.

NEVER put the train in a siding.
NEVER give the train a yellow or red block.
During fueling and engine changes, armed guards with those new-fangled machine guns that every citizen may purchase (fun days, then!)
Be ready for surprise stops caused by bad guys (see new-fangled equipment above)
Maybe a couple other things I didn't think of but a bright rising railroader would.


Ed

Edward Sutorik


On Wed, Jun 10, 2020 at 09:16 AM, Tim O'Connor wrote:

It was incredibly valuable cargo. Why are so many non-perishable products (MILLIONS of TONS) now
shipped by air? Because it's so valuable that the higher transportation cost is negligible. It's hard to steal from
a fast moving train (or airplane). :-)


On 6/10/2020 12:08 PM, spsalso via groups.io wrote:
I mentioned a couple of those reasons for speed in my earlier post.

As I envision the hoopla accompanying the silk shipments, I also see another benefit from railroad speed:  self-promotion.

"Sure they're fast.  But we're FASTER!  Just look at the last running time!  We're BETTER than that other line!"

Sometimes it seemed kind of over-the-top.  This could explain why.

Edward Sutorik


--
Tim O'Connor
Sterling, Massachusetts


Garth Groff and Sally Sanford
 

Friends,

Edward has pretty much hit the silk problem on the head. Silk was a very, very valuable cargo, and was a tempting target for organized crime. Some division points along the silk routes had vault-like buildings into which silk cars could be placed for safe storage until the next train was dispatched. Likely the building was protected by armed officers when it was full. Way back in the 1960s, Bud Sima wrote an article about building one of these vaults in MR.

Yours Aye,


Garth Groff  🦆

On Wed, Jun 10, 2020 at 12:16 PM Tim O'Connor <timboconnor@...> wrote:

It was incredibly valuable cargo. Why are so many non-perishable products (MILLIONS of TONS) now
shipped by air? Because it's so valuable that the higher transportation cost is negligible. It's hard to steal from
a fast moving train (or airplane). :-)


On 6/10/2020 12:08 PM, spsalso via groups.io wrote:
I mentioned a couple of those reasons for speed in my earlier post.

As I envision the hoopla accompanying the silk shipments, I also see another benefit from railroad speed:  self-promotion.

"Sure they're fast.  But we're FASTER!  Just look at the last running time!  We're BETTER than that other line!"

Sometimes it seemed kind of over-the-top.  This could explain why.

Edward Sutorik


--
Tim O'Connor
Sterling, Massachusetts


John Riddell
 

For an extremely valuable commodity with insurance rates sometimes charged by the hour, speedy delivery was important.

CPR with its integrated railway and steamship  service had a competitive edge. In 1924 CP’s newest liner “Empress of Canada” sped across the Pacific in eight days, ten hours and nine minutes from Tokyo to Vancouver. CPR trains then sped the silk to reach New York only thirteen days after leaving Yokohama harbour.

 

John Riddell

 

 

 

 

 

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