Thursday, April 1, 2021

Waybills, Part 83: interesting examples

 Over the years, a number of people have been kind enough to share with me copies of prototype waybills in their possession. By far the most extensive of these have been bills from the collection of Andy Laurent, and I am grateful to Andy for his generosity in sharing these. This post gives examples of two interesting waybills. 

Incidentally, if you would like to examine earlier posts in this series, the simplest way to find them is to use “waybills part” as the search term in the search box at right.

To begin, let me show a waybill from a very small railroad, the Raritan River. It was a 20-mile railroad in and around South Amboy, New Jersey,  and owned no freight cars in interchange service. It interchanged with both the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Central of New Jersey in South Amboy, and largely provided local switching service; in 1953, it listed 8 locomotives in service. 

Despite its small size, and unlike many small or switching roads, the Raritan River did issue waybills. This is an example from the Laurent collection; note that like so many bills, it’s creased down the center from conductors folding it. (You can click on the image to enlarge it if you wish.)

Note several interesting things about this waybill. First, the load was shipped in a New York Central box car, no. 41192, a 50-foot single-door car of 50 tons capacity. The cargo is shown as a carload (C/L), and comprised calcium silicate and asbestos in flat sheets; and it is noted that the shipper counted and loaded the cargo (SC&L). The car was weighed at Parlin, New Jersey, with the weight is given as 72,700 pounds. Notice that the original freight charge has been corrected by hand.

It was interchanged to the CNJ at South Amboy, and routed to Taylor, Pennsylvania for transfer to Erie Lackawanna. Via EL it went to East Buffalo, New York for interchange to C&O (Pere Marquette District) and taken to Ludington, Michigan for car ferry transportation across Lake Michigan to Kewaunee, Wisconsin and the Kewanuee, Green Bay and Western, and finally to the Ahnapee & Western for delivery to Algoma, Wisconsin.

Here’s another waybill that was interesting, at least to me. It’s from the Oregon Electric Railway. The OE began operation in 1908 as a connection between Portland and Salem in Oregon’s Willamette Valley (as locals always say, “Willamette” rhymes with “dammit”). Only two years later, in 1910,  it was purchased by the Spokane, Portland and Seattle, and the line was extended to Eugene in 1912. Though electric operations ended in 1945, the OE survived well after the BN merger, still as a wholly owned part of the BN system.

Many railroads with such subsidiaries had the local agents use the big road’s waybills, but many did not. The OE is an example, as you see in the waybill below.

This waybill illustrates a number of things. First, of course, is the OE header at the top. Second, the cargo of plywood from U.S. Plywood’s plant in Eugene, to the Algoma, Wisconsin Division of U.S. Plywood, is only shown as a carload (C/L), and the notation on the bill states “do not weigh,” in light of the Weight Agreement stamp (large round stamp at upper right). The load is being shipped in C&O 16186, a 50-foot double-door box car. Such a car is a free-runner, of course, and thus it’s not peculiar that a C&O car is being loaded in Eugene, Oregon.

Routing is as follows: OE to Willbridge, Oregon, thence SP&S to Spokane and interchange to Northern Pacific. Then NP takes the car across its Northern Transcon to interchange with C&NW at Park Junction (Minneapolis), thence to the Green Bay & Western at Merrilan in central Wisconsin, then to Green Bay, and via the KGB&W and Ahnapee & Western to Algoma.

Of course, as a modeler of the western U.S., I felt I really needed to have an OE waybill for use in layout operating sessions. This is simple to do, just graft the OE header seen above onto the standard AAR waybill form (admittedly not exactly the same as the OE form). Here’s how it looks in my model form when filled out (note the weight stamp is literally exactly the same, even the agreement number):

I feel like I have learned a lot about how waybills looked and what information was used in filling them out, by examining a number of the bills Andy Laurent was kind enough to share with me. And I expect to continue to learn in the same way. Sometimes, as with the OE bill shown in this post, I even gain another model waybill, but the Raritan River feels just a little too remote for me — maybe I’ll wait and see if it grows on me <grin>.

Tony Thompson


  1. Such great stuff you keep finding, Tony! Love it! Now, before somebody says "you're wrong!" about the RRRR not owning it's own cars, you're absolutely correct, in your era (and mine), I don't belive they did, but in the 1970's "Per Diem boxcar craze", they did. Just a little jistory (I live about 15 miles from where the RRRR ran (and still does, in part as a Conrail branch).
    As for needing a RRRR waybill? Absolutely you need one, for three reasons. First, if you model (or want to model) any kind of Chemical or explosive manufacturing loads from the East Coast, you can't do much better, as DuPont and Hercules Powder (among others) had large plants online.

    1. You are correct, and I knew about all the chemical industry in South Jersey. But remember that there is even more of it on the Gulf Coast, a lot closer to southern California.

      I nevertheless might make up a RRRR bill one of these days, just for contrast.
      Tony Thompson

  2. Second, brick. This area of NJ (in particular Sayreville, home of the Sayre and Fisher Brick Works, until 1970) was a large producer of brick in it's various forms.
    Third, your East Coast friends who (some day) come over to operate will love it! LOL!


    1. Thanks, Ralph. Brick is one of those commodities made in many parts of the country, that is cheap and heavy. That means you cannot afford to ship it any distance --- unless, of course, it is something special, such as refractory brick, or a distinctive color not otherwise available.
      Tony Thompson