Friday, November 20, 2020

Interesting Finds - Freight Operations

 For several reasons, I've been having to go through my files on the computer. In the process, I've (re) found things I haven't looked at in a while.

I have a spreadsheet that was posted in the Steam Era Freight Car list over a decade ago (it's still there). I wasn't able to identify the original poster (yet), but it's a spreadsheet of waybills from Watertown, MN 1954. It's either missing some info, or the town wasn't served daily. Regardless, it's a treasure trove of info.

Of the 539 cars documented, there is a car with a load from Stanley Tools in New Britain. The car itself was LCL, and here are the contents:

  • 1 box machine parts from Chain Belt Co, Milwaukee WI (MILW) for Green Giant
  • 1 box wood casket and 1 steel casket from Nick & Sons, Heafford Jct WI (SOO-MILW) for Blomquist Funeral Home
  • 1 15 gallon drum oil, 1 pour pail from Hyrotex, Chicago IL (SOO-MILW) for Walter Kubash
  • 1 case price lists from Stanley Tools, New Britain CT (NH-ERIE-CBQ-MILW) for the public school
  • 1 case bed sheets, 1 case pillow cases from Ely & Walker, Post TX (P&SF-GC&SF-ATSF-Nemo-MST-MILW) for Edelsteins

Based on the routings, it appears (at least some of) the contents were transferred from another car. It's likely that all of the shipments went to a MILW freight house to be reloaded to this destination, and it's possible that there might have been other goods for other destinations.

No New Haven cars were delivered to the town in that year.

One of the things I found interesting is that all this was loaded into a reefer. ART 51859. There is an ART reefer with LCL traffic on another day as well (29149), and that also has a load from CT (Philip Brenner in Derby/Shelton CT, a load of 7 cartons of rubber mats) which took the same route as the other car.

A third load from CT was part of an LCL load in B&O 276754 from CF Anderson in East Lyme CT, 3 cases of surgical dressings. This took a different route, NH-CV-CN-GT-CBQ-MILW.

Of particular interest to me as I dig through it is ideas for LCL commodities to add to waybills for the freight house. In this case, there are two caskets. Looking through the list there were 15 wood, 4 steel, and one iron casket delivered. All were destined for the same funeral home, but from three different suppliers. One of them was noted as a rush. With the City Directories, it's easy enough to find the local funeral homes. 

A quick check online tells me that the population of the town was 867 in 1950, and 1,046 in 1960. New Britain was 73,726 in 1950, and 82,201 in 1960. 21 caskets for a town of 1,000 is a 2% annual delivery rate. If that's constant that would be nearly 1,500 caskets delivered to New Britain annually. Of course, it's not likely a constant, but it certainly indicates that this would be a relatively common delivery unless there is a source close enough to New Britain that it would have come by truck. However, if there is, then it would also likely be a source of outbound traffic via the freight house.

Looking in the 1951 New Britain City Directory and there are eight funeral homes listed:

  • A W Carlson Co
  • J M Curtin Co
  • Erickson Funeral Home
  • James F Farrell Memorial Funeral Home
  • Laraia Sagarino & Co
  • B C Porter and Sons
  • Rose Hill Memorial Park
  • Sorbo Funeral Home

All of these are potential customers on waybills to the freight house or bulk tracks. Additional research indicates there were around 700 casket manufacturers in 1950, although I haven't found a listing yet. 

A bit morbid, perhaps. But interesting and part of the work of the railroad in that era.

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