Thursday, December 3, 2020


When going through the 1% Waybill study (average 1950-54) for commodities shipped to CT, I decided to look at the most common commodities to research for waybills. The top four items were pretty predictable:

  • 305 Bituminous Coal (21,800)
  • 411 Lumber, Shingles, and Lath (12,650)
  • 633 Cement Porland (12,200)
  • 301 Anthracite Coal (10,900)

Of those, I wanted to get a better understanding of 411 Lumber Shingles Lath, but where do you find such information?

The AAR Freight Commodity Classification book, of course. I have one from 1947.

I don't know how often they were updated/reissued. It turns out that the category is rather large:

411. Lumber Shingles, and Lath

  • Billets, wooden
  • Blanks, handle, wooden
  • Blocks, bowling pin, wooden
  • Blocks, hub, wooden
  • Blocks, last, wooden
  • Blocks, match, wooden
  • Blocks or blocking, wooden, noibn (not otherwise indexed by name)
  • Blocks, paving, wooden
  • Blocks, spool, wooden
  • Casket or coffin stock, wooden, noibn
  • Cross arms, wooden
  • Dimension stick, wooden, noibn
  • Dowels, wooden, rough or rough turned
  • Flooring, parquet, wooden
  • Flooring squares, wooden
  • Flooring, wooden, noibn
  • Insulator pins, wooden
  • Lath, wooden
  • Lumber, native wood, Canadian wood, or Mexican pine, noibn
  • Pickets, fence, wooden
  • Planks, wooden
  • Shingles, wooden
  • Staves, flume, wooden
  • Staves, pipe, wooden
  • Staves, silo, wooden
  • Staves, tank, wooden
  • Timber noibn

Obviously shipments to the lumber yards will consist of a lot of these, but I also note the Blanks, handle, wooden entry, as that's probably a pretty common load to the Stanley plants.

The rest of the top 19 commodities shipped to CT by rail (all average 2,000 or more carloads/year):

  • 583 Manufactured I and S (Iron and Steel) (10,425)
  • 215 Meats, Fresh, NOS (not otherwise specified) (7,392)
  • 773 Feed A and P, NOS (Animal and Poultry) (6,150)
  • 763 Food Products, NOS (6,150)
  • 655 Scrap Paper and Rags (4,192)
  • 507 Refined Petroleum, NOS (4,150)
  • 613 Automobiles, Passenger (3,775)
  • 015 Flour, Wheat (3,150)
  • 527 Chemicals, NOS (3,050)
  • 657 Newsprint Paper (3,025)
  • 697 Glass Bottles and Jars (2,800)
  • 797 Waste Materials, NOS (2,408)
  • 213 Swine, DD (Double Deck) (2,300)
  • 559 Copper Ingot, Etc. (2,250)
  • 563 Lead, Zinc Bar, Etc. (2,058)

There were a couple of surprises there. 655 Scrap Paper and Rags? What's that? Apparently it's rag pulp, scrap or waste paper, pulpboard, fibreboard, scrap or waste rags. So I'm wondering where all of that is going in the state to rank ninth with an average of over 4,000 cars annually.

It also surprised me that the 17th most common commodity on the New Haven was swine. In a discussion on the NHRHTA forum about stock car traffic on the NH, the general opinion is that such traffic was quite low. But several destinations were noted as the discussion continued. In my case, stock cars would probably only be on the OA trains (Maybrook to Hartford) destined for Copaco in Bloomfield, Hartford, or the slaughterhouse in Middletown.

797 Waste Materials, NOS is a long list of commodities, broken abrasive wheels, alundum refuse, apple waste, to glue scraps, haircloth clippings, jute refuse, non-edible meat refuse, rubber shavings. Just about anything. Once again, where was this being delivered in CT to warrant nearly 2,500 cars?


  1. Whoa! Copaco... that takes me back. I remember going to Copaco near Bishops Corner in West Hartford with my grandfather when I was a wee thing.

    1. Yeah, the Copaco that was there when we moved into the area was a petting zoo in the front of the shopping center. A far cry from the Packing Company that gave the shopping center its name...