locked Re: Southern "Package Car" Services

Bill Schafer

When I went to work for Southern Railway in Greensboro in 1971,  a few vestiges of package car service still existed, although I didn’t appreciate them at the time.

Southern apparently turned over its remaining LCL business sometime in the 1960s to independent freight forwarders [if there’s any files on this in the SRHA Archives, this should be part of an LCL article], which received, consolidated, and distributed the freight, loaded and unloaded the cars at facilities they [probably] rented from the Southern, and were served by some of the hottest trains on the division. The company in Greensboro was Western Carloading, just south of Pomona Yard. All I ever remember seeing at that facility were 40’ boxcars, and they frequently were forwarded south on the front of 219, which was the hot PotYd-New Orleans rail-highway train. (153, the equally hot all-merchandise PotYd-New Orleans freight didn’t normally stop at Pomona, but if 219 was on time, it stopped there to pick up pigs; if it was running late, 159 made the pickup and forwarded the cars to Spencer. If 159 was running late, the Thomasville Switcher, if memory serves, made a special run to Pomona, grabbed 219’s pickup, and forwarded it to Spencer, where 219 changed crews and routinely picked up and set off cars anyway.)

Sears had a large rail-served facility north of downtown Greensboro, not far from my trackside apartment, that still loaded or received 40’ boxcars, and was switched by a local switch engine in the morning. IIRC, the cars were taken to/brought from Pomona, where they may (not entirely sure) have been added to the Western Carloading pickup. 

Some of the details above may be off, but you get the idea - LCL was fading away, but in 1971 was not entirely dead. There may have been other examples of vestigial LCL service on the Southern at that time, but I wasn’t aware of it.

—Bill Schafer

On Oct 16, 2018, at 11:57 AM, C J Wyatt <cjwyatt@...> wrote:

Here are two items that will be included in a package car article being researched for TIES. We have two complete package car schedules in the SRHA archives, if anyone can copy or donate anything on the subject they may have, we'll use it in the article.


The Southern Railway directory of Industries which was printed around 1938 has ten pages of the package car routes for the various freight houses on the system.

One fascinating aspect was the textiles package business going from mills in the Carolina's to Pinners Point for both coastal steamship connections and international. Obviously that would have been a significant part of the business at Spencer Transfer, but many mills loaded package cars themselves. If I recall, the main time freight of the era from Spencer NC to Pinners Point VA was named the "Spinning Wheel".

Other important package commodities from the Carolina's were tobacco and furniture. R. J. Reynolds loaded a lot of cars at its plant in Winston-Salem. Some of those routes were destined for off-line freight houses.


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