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Sources of information for railroad shipping logistic details
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   Author  Topic: Sources of information for railroad shipping logistic details  (Read 141 times)
dkeltner
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Sources of information for railroad shipping logistic details
 
« on: Dec 21st, 2014, 9:35pm »
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I'm trying to do research to learn more about how the whole supply chain of freight shipping worked in the 1800's, all the way from the grain farmers, cattlemen, and mining companies, to the transportation they used to reach the rail lines, to how they did business with the rail companies and stations for the actual shipment of their goods.  
 
Any suggestions for good online sources or books that provide insight into how that whole supply chain worked?
 
Example questions I'm trying to learn more about include:
- How did individual producers (farmers, miners) get their shipments loaded onto freight trains? Did they have their own leased or owned freight cars? Were their local transportation companies that specialized in transporting goods to the train yards?
- Were there warehouses at the freight stations? Was it first come/first serve to determine what items waiting for shipment were loaded onto the next train that arrived? What fees did the producers have to pay to store and load their goods at the stations?
- Did business owners contract directly with the railroad companies to have specific rail lines and train cars built just for use by their business?
- How did the scheduling of freight trains get coordinated and communicated out to the people that wanted to load goods on those trains?  
 
Thanks for any help!
-


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HwyHaulier
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Re: Sources of information for railroad shipping logistic details
 
« Reply #1 on: Dec 22nd, 2014, 8:51am »
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dkeltner - Lodge Members -  
 
WELCOME! Great to see your query...
 
Here it is Holidays Season, and you need to be on Santa's list? For a start, a work by John Westwood and Ian Wood,  
The Historical Atlas Of North American Railroads, Chartwell Books, Inc., New York, 2007 and Rev. US 2011.  
ISBN 13: 978-0-7858-2781-8, ISBN 10: 0-7858-2781-1
 
May be on the shelf at a book seller near you. Book is a good place to start. In your query, the entire industry went thru  
so many remarkable changes, each decade in the 1800s, starting with B & O RR in 1827. The Railroads became so  
developed, it led to creation of Interstate Commerce Commission in 1886. A solid book on Transport Regulation  
most useful, too...
 
Recall (and TRAINS Magazine with an excellent article) during the War Between The States, the Union had benefit of  
masterful use of the fairly new Telegraph System.
 
..............................Vern........................


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dkeltner
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Re: Sources of information for railroad shipping logistic details
 
« Reply #2 on: Dec 23rd, 2014, 11:21am »
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Thanks, Vern!  
 
I'll check that book out. Most of the ones I've found so far are focused on the construction of the railroads or on the rail barons; not so much about the actual operation of all the businesses and how they adapted to use the railroads once they became available.


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HwyHaulier
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Re: Sources of information for railroad shipping logistic details
 
« Reply #3 on: Dec 23rd, 2014, 1:03pm »
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dkeltner - Lodge Members -  
 
Right! Appreciate your viewpoint. What you want is customary patterns of daily activities...
 
It can be done. Sources surely must be available. Well to keep aware that decade over decade in the 19th Century times  
marked by much dynamic change and growth. The usual ways in which the Railroads did business? Shipper and Receivers  
compelled to provide transport between origins and destinations, and physical 'railhead' Station points.
 
An example in US History of the times? This one had much play in endless novels and TV programs. Cattle drives from  
Texas to Railhead at Kansas points. The practices account no available rail service at origins, but Chicago (and into the  
East) services by rail at Kansas points.
 
Another example in fact that on myriad possible movements, there was reliable service provided by domestic River and  
Bay, as well as Coastal Vessels. Long practices that shippers and receivers had responsibility to get shipments to and  
from Piers and Ports.
 
Trust this of some aid...
 
...........................Vern.......................


« Last Edit: Dec 23rd, 2014, 1:05pm by HwyHaulier » Logged

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George_Harris
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Re: Sources of information for railroad shipping logistic details
 
« Reply #4 on: Dec 23rd, 2014, 10:33pm »
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Another thing to help flesh out the understanding of early to mid 19th century railroading would be some looking at the economic drivers behind the construction and routing of the early lines.  These "Robber Barons" were seeing something worth getting their hands in to rob when they went about their business.
 
Think of what the world was like in pre-railroad land transportation.  Speeds were no higher than in the time of the Roman Empire.  Moving crops and other goods to market was a main driver behind construction of many early lines.  Water transportation was established very early, and many towns were located based on their relationship to water transportation, that is head of navigation, convenient access to water transportation for wagon transportation.  Better movement to water transportation was a driver behind many early railroads.  Look at a map of lines as they were in say 1835 to 1840 and you will see many that have one end on a major river or coastal point.  The saving in transportation effort and cost by using the most primitive of railroad systems compared to mule or ox hauled wagons on dirt roads made railroad construction to a water transportation access point a true "no brainer"
 
In this remember also that the water transportation elements had tremendous political power.  The huge spans of many of the early railroad bridges over navigable waterways was a direct result of these water transportation elements getting width and height of span requirements in the congressional permit large enough that they though they could not be met.  Yes, any crossing of a waterway designated as navigable has required federal permission from the very beginning of the US as a country.


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Les_Shepherd
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Re: Sources of information for railroad shipping logistic details
 
« Reply #5 on: Dec 23rd, 2014, 11:44pm »
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This is a very interesting topic. The development of railroads in the US was paralleled here in Australia.
 
Following on from George; the roads were generally of poor condition and rail lines were laid as an alternative. Unless they were mainlines, they were usually of cheap construction. In regions of crop growing, principally grain, it was deemed that lines were needed not to be more than would require a 30 mile drive by farmers to them. Grain was initially bagged and the bags manhandled onto open waggons. Bulk loading followed in the 20th century and receiving silos were installed together with appropriate covered waggons.  
 
Livestock always had to be driven to a railhead or loading point. Droving was always a major activity. Where rail lines were sparse the distances driven could very long. More limited droving still continues today.
 
General merchandise being delivered to framers was usually packaged into bags, drums or whatever was appropriate to the product. These had to be manhandled onto and off of both covered waggons and open waggons. The open waggons were covered with a waterproof canvas tarpaulin.
 
This is very brief and a detailed study of the development of the logistics would be a most interesting subject.


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ehbowen
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Re: Sources of information for railroad shipping logistic details
 
« Reply #6 on: Dec 24th, 2014, 2:09am »
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I know that you said that you're not so much interested in the construction aspects, but I think that you still ought to check out Freight Terminals and Trains (and its companion volume, Passenger Terminals and Trains) by John A Droege. It provides a fascinating look at turn-of-the-20th-century railroad infrastructure. You might also find some references to contemporary sources. Both volumes are available free of charge digitized through Google Books.
 
ETA: Check out the related books links at that URL. Railroad Freight Transportation by Loree might just be what you're looking for.


« Last Edit: Dec 24th, 2014, 4:20am by ehbowen » Logged

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HwyHaulier
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Re: Sources of information for railroad shipping logistic details
 
« Reply #7 on: Dec 24th, 2014, 8:52am »
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Lodge Members -
 
Les, what you report reminds of what developed here in the US. In what became "Official Territory" in the Rail Tariffs, scope of Northeast States  
to and from Central States, were largely some clearly apparent Lines serving this beginning of the "Industrial Age"...
 
Meanwhile, over in the Midwest, and near any point west of the Mississippi River, a vast number of Lines built, largely for service by agricultural  
interests. Best to keep in mind the "Ag" sector of vital importance, and organized Farmers guided much Transport policy. "Grange Movement"  
which had much to do with establishment of Federal ICC...
 
In a related note about the "Trans Continental Railroad". It is treated more delicately in many History texts. Notable, in the times, the grandest  
Federal boondoggle ever seen. Add to that, it was not what it claimed to be. The St. Joseph, MO - Ogden, UT - Oakland, CA route was (IMHO  
and to my mind), first a National Strategic Defense Initiative.  
 
That is: If it was up to Washington (DC) to protect National interests, then it was essential to be able to get Military forces into place throughout  
the West Coast. Not to forget, long ago the area at, and above Fort Bragg and Eureka, both CA, subject to Russian claims. So the US had to  
"get there first" to get Military into place to defend this huge "Manifest Destiny" real estate...
 
BTW. Directly to the lead query here. Getting orders to the Railroad, arranging transport. Much of it done by US Mail. In so many communities,  
there were several Mail pickups and deliveries every business day. There was no Telephone. No E-Mail, either! <G>
 
MISC. & N.B.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_Pacific_Railway
 
.................................Vern........................


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ClydeDET
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Re: Sources of information for railroad shipping logistic details
 
« Reply #8 on: Dec 24th, 2014, 11:15pm »
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You have been given some useful sources, especially concerning the "Granger Lines" of the Midwest. You will often find parallel lines about 30-40 miles apart, and in farming country you will find grain elevators about every 30-40 miles. Farmer harvested his grain (or in cotton country, his cotton) and took it by animal=drawn wagon to the elevator and consigned it. Operator requested cars and loaded them and sent the grain to destination (usually a mill). For cotton, to the nearest gin, that was almost always on a railroad, where the cotton bolls were ginned and baled and then sent to a place with a compress and then shipped to buyers to be spun into thread, woven, and on to clothing makers. All rail-intensive movements.
 
Question for you, Mr. Keltner. Are you by any chance related to my college classmate, the late Neil Keltner? Not any business of mine, but the name brought Neil to mind.
 


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Les_Shepherd
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Re: Sources of information for railroad shipping logistic details
 
« Reply #9 on: Dec 25th, 2014, 5:14am »
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Thank you Vern for your comments.  
Firstly you remind me that the parallels between our countries are more numerous than I thought. We also had a scare about a Russian invasion in the 1850s. The result was the construction of a magnificent Fort in the middle of Sydney Harbour. It is built on a rocky outcrop using local sandstone and includes a full Martello Tower. Prior to this the scare was from the French and this produced some disgraceful planned behavior by the military.
 
Secondly, your points about the river & coastal networks is important. Just as the Mississippi/Missouri basin has always been a vital transport link so too was the Murray/Darling basin in eastern Australia. The riverboat traffic was substantial and the building of railroads was used as a weapon against them. The riverboats were diverting freight from western New South Wales to the port of Melbourne and Victoria, so the building of lines became essential to counteract this. Several river towns had port facilities which rivaled coastal ports in size and tonnages handled.
 
Taking up Clyde's points about cotton, our experience with both wool and cotton is appropriate to the enquirer.
 
Wool was the major rural product in the 1800s. The bales were loaded onto huge drays hauled by bullock teams of considerable length. I am fascinated by the old photographs. The bales seem to be stacked up to 20ft or more above the tray of dray. The teams went to either the riverbank for loading onto barges or the rail loading points for loading onto open waggons. We never had the Palace class riverboats but the paddlewheelers we did have usually hauled 3 or 4 barges loaded very high with baled wool. I am not certain, but I believe that most of the wool these days is carried by road.
 
Cotton is a 20th century crop here and I have more knowledge of the subject. The crop is carried by road from the farm to the gin. Being a light product, the highways and roads in the cotton growing areas are littered with cotton bolls along the sides. The ginned cotton is baled into circular bales.They are literally rolled. The bales are loaded into standard shipping containers for shipment by rail. I know that at least on ginning company in New South Wales sends out 4 or 5 trains a week during the season. On enquiry I was advised that they do not own containers or rail flatcars. They simply hire what they need as required. They have haulage contracts with a train operator. The full nature of the contract I am unsure of. The Train operators have always attempted to write contracts on a "take or pay" basis. I doubt that the cotton ginners would find this acceptable as their demands are partly seasonal.
 
The "take or pay" contracts have been adverse to coalminers recently. Several in Queensland have wanted to close mines but have found that these contracts would be more expensive that the losses from continued mining.
 
Several grain marketers have purchased their own waggons. In turn they regularly call tenders for haulage from the train operators. The train operators need to arrange the timetable paths and track access charges as well as supply locomotives and crew. The owners of the tracks are not allowed to run trains and the train operators are not allowed to own track in many places.
 
The mining industry has always relied on rail access for economic viability. Lines were therefore built over the longest of distances and through some of the most difficult of country to service them particularly those with the richest resources. In South Australia this proved financially difficult. Some marginal miners had to cart their mining plant into the mine sites by camel and the ores out in the same manner. The rail lines which were built also provided a valuable service to cattle producers and there was probably more revenue from this source than from any mining in the vicinity.
 
The only livestock currently carried by rail is in Queensland. Everywhere else it is by road. In the eastern states on B-doubles and in Central Australia by road trains of 3 or 4 trailers.
 
This has been a longish post but I hope it is of interest. I believe that in many areas there will be similarity with practice in US & Canada. I am interested to find out.


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ClydeDET
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Re: Sources of information for railroad shipping logistic details
 
« Reply #10 on: Dec 25th, 2014, 2:33pm »
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What's the old saying, Les? Form follows function. And similar circumstances lead to similar solutions. Circumstances in Australia and North America have a lot of similarity, and similar solutions with them. Not, perhaps, identical, but similar.

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George_Harris
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Re: Sources of information for railroad shipping logistic details
 
« Reply #11 on: Dec 25th, 2014, 11:38pm »
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A few thoughts on cotton transportation field to market:
 
I my home area, Memphis vicinity, the general concept appeared that any populated area beyond the smallest village had its own cotton gin and the cotton was hauled there by wagon.  Up through the 1950's at least, gins would seldom be more than 5 to 8 miles apart in cotton country.  Thus, when cotton got on the rails it was after passing through the gin.  
 
In fact one of my earliest memories of activities on my grandfather's farm is sitting on the mule hauled wagon with my grandfather with it filled with cotton and it going to and through the gin.  We went though where the vacuum pipe pulled the cotton out of the wagon, then got off and watched it process through  (What safety equipment and restrictions against children around machinery?)  the gin machinery.  The bolls came down through where the spinning teeth pulled the fiber off the seed, then the fiber was piled into a form and packed down.  The piling and packing was repeated until the limit of compression of the machinery, burlap put around it and steel strapping applied.  The resultant bale weighed about 500 pounds.  Somewhere in this process, I think, after all I was about 4 to 5 years old at that time, a sample was cut out, labeled, and sent for grading.  Could not have been any older, as he got a truck in 1949, so it had to have been the 1949 season or earlier.
 
Where rail came in with this is that after being processed through the gin, in the days of rail for any freight moving any distance the cotton would be hauled to the nearest team track on the railroad and loaded on a freight car.  I think the norm would be a flat car.  After being compressed into the density of a bale, wrapped and strapped, the cotton was relatively impervious to the effects of weather.
 
Most of these gins are now shut down.  I have been away from here so long I do not know that much about the current situation in cotton farming around here other than a lot of the cotton land is now being used to grow other things.
 
A "team track" got its name from its purpose.  It was a railroad owned track on which empty freight cars would be set out for loading with freight brought to them on wagons drawn by teams of mules, or in other areas of the country draft horses or oxen, or loaded freight cars set out on them for their loads to be transferred to wagons.  (Les, we are meaning road wagons here in all cases.  Somehow the term wagon never got applied to rail cars here.)


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HwyHaulier
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Re: Sources of information for railroad shipping logistic details
 
« Reply #12 on: Dec 30th, 2014, 9:16am »
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Lodge Members -  
 
This such a solid topic, thought might be good to add, so to keep it going...
 
That being so: Any scholars (part time, ad hoc or casual good) about Cycle Theory? Appears the US has adopted "off shore"  
solutions for so much basic industry and manufacturing.  
 
Such being the case, does this not return us to the 1880s Era? That is, agriculture the dominating forces in the economy.  
These days, though, with corporate farming, those folks surely must have well paid lobbyists on K Street in DC? Don't much  
need a populist Grange Movement, all over again? Just noting here.......
 
.............................Vern...............................
 


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