Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Another excellent Shipper’s Guide

Just now becoming available from Rails Unlimited is yet another Shipper’s Guide, this one for the B&O and the Alton. It’s dated 1939, and is 237 pages long. I find these Guides useful for identifying authentic shipper (and consignee) names all over the country. You can see a write-up about it (and the other 22 Guides available) at: https://railsunlimited.ribbonrail.com/Books/shippers.html .

I doubt I can exaggerate the usefulness of these Guides, and regular readers will recall that I have posted about them several times. I gave a general introduction back in 2015 (see it at: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2015/11/waybills-part-44-shipper-guides.html ). 

Subsequently, as more and more of these Guides have become available, I have continued to review them. Here’s a link to one later post on the topic: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2015/11/waybills-part-44-shipper-guides.html . You can readily find them all by using “Shipper Guide” in the search box at upper right.

Below is the cover of the newest Guide from Rails Unlimited. It’s 8.5 x 11 inches and comb-bound for ease of use. Price is $39.95 plus $6 shipping.

Like most of these Guides, the book lists shippers by commodity, most alphabetically. In case you can’t guess the name that B&O used for a particular commodity, there is a two-page Index to Contents; I show one of these pages below. (You can click on the image to enlarge it if you wish.)

The sheer amount of information here is just remarkable, a conclusion I reach with almost every one of these Guides that I have examined. Just to choose a single example, I have several packing houses on my layout, and these naturally ship carloads of fruit or vegetables to wholesale produce dealers, warehouses, or brokers. In this Shipper Guide, as in most of them, these businesses exist even in fairly small towns. Shown below is just half of the listings in this B&O Guide. Many of these are entirely suitable destinations for carloads of produce shipped from my layout.

Let me illustrate how I have used this guide for one particular layout waybill. I have on my layout a brass foundry, which mostly makes plumber’s supplies such as valves. Turning to pages 465 and 466 in the guide, I find plumber’s supply businesses in 12 states. I decide arbitrarily to choose one from Dayton, Ohio (see below). By the way, the letter prefixes to entries identify whether the business had a B&O siding or someone else’s.

With this destination identified, I then make the waybill below, including a Weight Agreement stamp. The freight car that will carry this load happens to be my newly finished EJ&E box car built from a Sunshine Models mini-kit (for a description of that project, see: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2024/01/sunshine-ej-box-car-mini-kit-part-3.html ).

For background on this waybill design, you can search this blog, using “waybills” as the search term in the search box at the upper right corner of this post; or see one of my published articles, such as Model Railroad Hobbyist (one of my “Getting Real” columns, entitled “Operating with Prototypical Waybills,” January 2018; still available to read on-line or download, for free, at: www.mrhmag.com ).

I hope this single example suffices to illustrate what can be gained from these Shipper Guides. They are particularly valuable when they describe the territory of a truly large railroad like the B&O. I am certainly happy to have this one.

Tony Thompson


  1. Tony, Good stuff! I have something similar for the Central Vermont - although it primarily focuses on who the shippers are and doesn't give a lot of detail on what they received/shipped. - Marty McGuirk

    1. The "CV in California" group has a copy of the CV Guide also, and it's been extensively used in creating our waybills for layout operation. I agree with you, I have not seen a Guide that has detail about shipments, either.
      Tony Thompson