Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sierra Rail Road Car Loadings 1945

I enjoyed operating John Zach’s Sierra last month.  I especially liked seeing a freight car fleet that matched my era and had a number of signature cars that I will have to duplicate. 

Looking for info on the Santa Fe and SP California car loadings at the state archives, I came across som of the Sierra's annual reports to the Cal RR Commission.  Several of them are filed in a box with the part of the SP's reports and I just had to peek when the archivist brought the whole box.  Traffic on the Sierra was a lot lower than that of the SP or ATSF and many of the commodities didn’t make it to their rails.  Since John was such a gracious host, I transcribed the 1945 data into the spreadsheet that I’m using to analyze the Santa Fe traffic and sent him a copy.  A recent OPSIG post mentioned 1952 Sierra conductor’s books and most of the traffic was lumber.  I went back and looked at my transcribed data and it fits the OPSIG observation.

Below is a summary of the carloads and tonnages by commodity class.

Things to note:

  1. No thru or bridge traffic.  Makes sense as the Sierra ran from a junction with the SP and ATSF in Oakdale up into the Sierras.
  2. Almost no online to online shipments, 11 carloads of 4509 handled
  3. Shipped almost five times as many cars as they received.
  4. Forrest products were 64% of their outgoing business
  5. LCL volume was almost seven times higher inbound than outbound, shipping 453 tons and receiving 3093 tons.
  6. Average car count 87/week or 12/day.

I’ve placed a full .xls version of the spreadsheet version of their 1945 freight traffic on Google Drive for your use.

If you download it, you can see that the 11 carloads of animals were horses or mules, and that lumber and lath made up the bulk of the forest shipments.

This was an interesting set of data to analyze as it represents what would be typical on a branch line and you just don’t get this kind of detail for short sections of the Class I railroads.  With the average car count of 12/day, this is a traffic level that could be modeled without compression. 

John Barry

5 July 2014
Cameron Park, CA

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