Saturday, October 1, 2011

The content of waybills, Part 2

In my previous post on the “working” content of waybills, by which I mean shippers, consignees, and cargoes (see: ), I described some general approaches to research on these matters. In this post I give some specific examples.
     For a simple case, consider an example from the Shasta Division layout of Otis McGee. The layout includes an interchange at Mt. Shasta City with the McCloud River Railroad (MCR), which served a considerable timber harvesting area on the southern and eastern flanks of Mt. Shasta, along with sawmills in that area. Obviously, then, lumber loads should arrive at this interchange point from the MCR. From what shippers and locations did these loads originate?
     A helpful web site for this topic is the series about MCR history on Trainweb, specifically (for Otis’s modeled year of 1952) the page for 1940-1963, available at: . There we learn that the Red River Lumber Company, with a sawmill at Westwood, sold out to Fruit Growers Supply Company (FGSC) in 1944.  A part of the Sunkist family, FGSC primarily produced box shook for citrus shipping boxes, with their main mill being located at Hilt on the Siskiyou line of the SP. After 1944, FGSC also produced shook at the Westwood mill, so that is one producer on the McCloud we can use.
     (You may ask, how did I find this useful page of railroad history? I simply used Google and requested “McCloud railroad history.” For many, many things--though not all things--this kind of simple approach will yield helpful resources.)
     The other producer in the area was of course the McCloud River Lumber Company, owner of the railroad since the 1890s, and operating a very large sawmill at McCloud, which is a short distance from Mt. Shasta City. All that would end in 1963, when U.S. Plywood bought out McCloud River Lumber and ceased hauling logs by rail to McCloud, but for a 1952 modeler, that’s far off in the future. So there are at least two major lumber shippers on the McCloud in 1952, FGSC and McCloud River Lumber.
     Now the need would be for prototype paperwork of the McCloud, so that realistic waybills or other documents could be prepared. I was able to borrow from John Signor a pad of MCR switch lists, and Jeff Moore, who is near to completing a history of the McCloud, sent me a 1950-era waybill. Here’s a blank waybill in the format of the 2 inch by 4 inch bills for Otis’s layout.

The AAR number code for MCR, 466, was interestingly retained when the more recent railroad, simply named McCloud Railway Company, came along.
     Lastly, we need consignees for the lumber loads. In 1952, the building boom in southern California was in full swing, so that’s one logical destination. I’m still assembling a list of lumber receivers in that area (more on this in a moment), but one large building materials supply company was the Ward Lumber Company of Fullerton, California. Accordingly, here is a sample waybill using the information generated here:

     As I mentioned in the previous post on this topic, a strong source for both shipper and consignee information is the OpSIG database collection, and certainly many possible consignees can be identified therein. The example just given was based on recollections of someone active in the lumber business in California decades ago, but here is a second waybill, using a 1950 entry in the “West” file from OpSIG:

Also note that this waybill is from McCloud River Lumber, not FGSC. On the layout, its car will show up on the McCloud River interchange track at Mt. Shasta, to move westward (railroad direction) on the SP. Both of these waybills, incidentally, are for 40-foot double-door box cars, as would be normal for finished lumber loads. Most lumber shipped on flat cars was rough lumber.
     Another source of information on shippers and receivers is track charts, either the diagrammatic kind or scale drawings of track layouts at stations. For SP, a number of these have been shown in the SP Historical and Technical Society magazine, Trainline, for example an article on the Oakdale branch in Trainline issue 104 (Summer 2010). Shown at Oakdale (pages 16 and 17 in that magazine) is the plant of Hunt Wesson Foods, a shipper of canned foods. On that same chart is a receiver of lumber shipments, Diamond National Lumber. Either could be used for waybills. I have examined some of the station track drawings at the California State Railroad Museum for this purpose also.
     A third source is period telephone books, collections of which are in many city and town libraries. The business section, or the Yellow Pages, can be a rich source of local businesses. In general, more information would be needed to determine if they actually had sidings and were rail-served, but many businesses received shipments at the local depot’s freight platform or team track.
     It is of course not really required to use actual businesses as shippers and consignees. One can construct plausible names by free use of regional or local geographic names. In Seattle, for example, a business might be named for the county (King County), for nearby geographic features (Cascade Range, Olympic Mountains, Lake Union, Elliott Bay, Puget Sound), or for the region (Pacific, Pacific Coast, Northwest, Mt. Rainier, Columbia River), and of course for city neighborhoods (Queen Anne, Wallingford, Delridge, Ballard) or nearby towns. These kinds of names can also be readily discovered in business directories or Yellow Pages if you are not familiar with a particular area or can’t find a good map.
     Not every business bears a strongly local name. Beyond the kinds of regional and local names just described, one sees broader examples (Western, Eastern, Northern, Southern, etc.), and also the generic names used for many businesses (Acme, Allied, Amalgamated, Consolidated, General, Merchant, National, Paragon, United, Wholesale, etc.). But I still like to use actual names when I can find them.
     To me, creating plausible shipping information on model waybills is definitely part of the fun in model railroad operation.
Tony Thompson


  1. Is the waybill for SP 63395 an actual waybill for Otis' layout? If so, there are several entries that raise questions. Westwood was on the SP and WP but not the MCR. Fullerton was on the Santa Fe, UP and PE but not the SP. I assume Ward Lumber is short for Ward and Harrington. They were in Fullerton on the Santa Fe and also close to the PE team track. Ward and Harrington also had a yard in Santa Ana on the SP. They had other facilities in Brea, La Habra, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach.

  2. Thanks for the clarifications, Jim. My source on southern California lumber receivers couldn't recall if it was Ward & Harrington or just Ward in the early 1950s. I take it from your comment that it would have been Ward & Harrington. I'm glad to have the clarification on SP vs. ATSF siding locations, as again, my source thought the W&H facility in Fullerton was on the SP. Do you know if there were reciprocal switching arrangements in that area?

    Regarding Westwood, I have a contact who has told me that Fruit Growers Supply, producing box shook at Westwood, shipped over the MCR to the SP at Mt. Shasta. Why that may have been, I don't know, but obviously the waybills should have originated with WP or SP. FGSC did negotiate with the McCloud for rail operations, and I don't know that they ever happened, but that could account for the shipping to Mt. Shasta.

    The waybills I showed are not final and certainly may well need further correction. If you can supply more information, Jim, I would appreciate the help.
    Tony Thompson

  3. I have a 1950 Northern Orange County City Directory that lists Ward and Harrington at the locations I listed.

    The Fullerton location was at 210 E Santa Fe Ave, on the south side of the street. The Santa Fe tracks were just south of W&H with a spur adjacent to the lumber yard. The PE ran down the center of Santa Fe Ave on the north side of W&H. There's a 1953 aerial photo of Fullerton on but it's difficult to tell if there was a spur off the PE into the yard. The Santa Fe spur is clearly visible.

    Cliff Prather is my expert on OC railroading and he doesn't think there was any switching agreement with the SP.

  4. Thanks, Jim. I appreciate the help. I note that Ward & Harrington is not included in the Fullerton entries in the OpSIG database (many of them provided by Jim). Of course this database is incomplete in MANY areas, as people across the U.S. have discovered. We can only hope it continues to grow.
    Tony Thompson