Saturday, September 16, 2023

Route cards, Part 24: examples of route cards

 In my recent posts that are part of a series about route cards, I have been including grading cards also, as Michael Litant’s collection includes both (both can be found on route card boards and on placard boards). To see any of those previous posts, the easiest way is to use “Route cards” as the search term in the search box at right. In the present post, I continue with route cards only. 

My first example is from the Akron, Canton & Youngstown. It identifies the car as SSW 46322, a 40-foot double-door automobile car, as apparently containing plywood, and is destined to Erie, PA. The card is 4 inches square.

A second one is a card identifying a car as either just cleaned, or needing to be cleaned, at Sanford, Florida. The card isn’t identified as to issuer, and though it may be an Atlantic Coast Line card, it could also be a Fruit Growers card for servicing refrigerator cars. The card is 3 x 7.5 inches, it’s dated May 13, 1967, and the car is FGEX 38970, a 40-foot ice refrigerator car.

Third, an interesting card is this Santa Fe example, labeled as a Switch Order Card, something I haven’t seen so identified before, though many route cards are exactly that. The car is ATSF 151490 , a 50-foot single-sheathed, single-door box car (abbreviated “AT” as was common on the Santa Fe), carried sugar, and it is stamped with what appears to be a destination — it looks like “933-R,” though I don’t know what that refers to. The card is 4 inches square.

I have shown some Burlington cards before. This one evidently is an urgent card, as I would interpret the word “TIME,” and it was made out at St. Joe (presumably Missouri) for RBBX 79106. That was a 50-foot insulated box car owned by Burlington Refrigerator Express. The card’s designation  may involve a switching group (“Group Number 115”) and is headed for a junction at Sioux City. It’s 3 x 4 inches.

This larger card (3.5 x 8.5 inches) would just barely fit on a route card board, and is a transfer slip for the Central of Georgia. The car was IC 118743, a 40-foot, 50-ton box car. Much of the writing is rather faded and hard to read, but it’s intriguing that it contains considerable waybill-like information about the destination and contents of the car.

Last, I will show a small Cotton Belt card, with the railroad emblem included. It’s 3.5 inches square, and isn’t filled out, except for the number 27107 at upper right, which could be a car number. It might be logical to assume that with no reporting mark listed, it was a Cotton Belt car, but as late as 1970, there was no such car number in Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) listings for the Cotton Belt.

Like all the prior examples of prototype route cards, I find the variety of these to be interesting and instructive about the different ways individual railroads went about routing and directing car movements. I hope to include more route cards in a future post.

Tony Thompson


  1. Are you sure that car is for Erie, PA and not the Erie interchange in Akron?

    1. Good point, and I think your suggestion is more likely than mine. Cars were usually moved to the next interchange. Of course the card isn't clear.
      Tony Thompson