locked Re: Southern box car preference, circa 1918

Bill Schafer

Fairfax Harrison certainly didn’t/couldn’t adapt and it darn near bankrupted the railroad during the depression. One of the factors that nearly sank SOU in the 1930s was that SOU eventually closed the shops and stopped maintaining its wooden boxcar fleet. The result was an incredible per diem imbalance. An argument could be made that if Harrison had accepted the USRA boxcars when they were offered, and continued to buy steel cars thereafter,the railroad would not have been quite as disadvantaged by the per diem issue fifteen years later. One of the first things Ernest Norris did when he took over for Harrison in 1937 was to take out an RFC loan and buy 5,000 steel 40-foot boxcars. One of these cars is at TVRM today in need of restoration. 

—Bill Schafer

On Apr 13, 2021, at 13:58, George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:


I agree “different” was always the Southern way. Watching every penny and adhering to accounting policies always served the company well.

Conventional wisdom explaining why the Southern kept 40-T 36ft box cars in service so long is typically that Fairfield Harrison simply did not like change or spending money. It may be that SR management knew their territory so well, their financial decisions followed.

When the Southern started buying all steel box cars in 1938, it was a recognition its rolling stock was antiquated but it also took advantage of RFC loans to buy them.


On Apr 13, 2021, at 1:30 PM, Tim <tarumph@...> wrote:

This is very interesting and is indicative of the long history of Southern doing its own thing for its own reasons. 

When I'm on other lists here at groups.io and mention the practices on my layout, I also preface it with, "This is the Southern Ry., so it's different than everybody else."

Tim Rumph
Lancaster, SC

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