locked Atlanta-Bham Freight Traffic in the 40s-50s


James Walton
 

I already suspect the answer to this is "anything and everything," considering Atlanta and Bham were massive industrial centers. I suspect the Southern was similar to many railroads in that they brought coal and coke to the steel mills in Bham.


C J Wyatt
 

One routing that I am curious about is how traffic went during that period between Atlanta and Memphis. Was it via Birmingham or via Chattanooga?

Jack Wyatt

On Thursday, December 9, 2021, 01:36:01 PM EST, James Walton <whovianwil@...> wrote:


I already suspect the answer to this is "anything and everything," considering Atlanta and Bham were massive industrial centers. I suspect the Southern was similar to many railroads in that they brought coal and coke to the steel mills in Bham.


Aidrian Bridgeman-Sutton
 

When just about everything went by rail your "anything and everything" is spot on, but there were some local characteristics.  I have notes here and there, but they aren't well indexed so this is a little bit of a brain dump rather than a carefully considered and edited report

  • Coal and ore for the Birmingham iron and steel industry came from mines nearby...at least most of it. A fair amount of this traffic originated from mines in the Leeds area and besides through-freights to Atlanta, there were locals serving intermediate places such as Leeds and Anniston. 
  • Despite there being excellent coking coal in the region, some grades of coal came from further afield - there's  one photo taken near Weems, I think by Frank Ardrey,  which shows loaded N&W hoppers.westbound on the Birmingham division. I don't know whether this was the usual routing (I'd be inclined to think routing via Bristol and Chattanooga might be more sensible) , but they are definitely visible in at least one photo. 
  • Limestone traffic doesn't seem to have been especially significant on this part of the system though I am open to correction. It had t come from somewhere, but I haven't seen a lot of evidence for this yet
  • Scrap iron is used in steel making - as much as 20-25%  of the charge in steel making will be ferrous scrap so there would have been scrap metal traffic.   
  • Birmingham was also a major interchange point so general freight going for onward movement on IC and Frisco services, including fruit, vegetables and other perishables

  • Eastbound traffic would have included empties heading back to the mines 
  • Loads would include iron and steel products obviously, including an awful lot of cast iron pipe was shipped. 
  • Domestic and industrial coal...lots of it.  Just about everyone burned coal for heating, washing and cooking and some towns still had coal gas plants rather than natural gas  - Atlanta was connected to natural gas by the 1930s but many towns further away had to wait much longer until the pipeline reached them
  • Tank cars carrying oil products show up regularly, often just a few cars rather than solid block trains as might have been seen during the war. Sinclair cars show up regularly - cars would be empty westbound, loaded eastbound 
  • General trafiic and reefers off the IC and Frisco connections. Something to look out for might be lumber traffic from the Pacific NW due to the postwar construction boom, which resulted in cars like NP boxcars turing up in all sorts of places. 

Aidrian




 


C J Wyatt
 

Aidrian,

Excellent summary, Aidrian.

I agree about the tank car business. Though mostly single car, my impression was that the Birmingham Division had a good variety. 

One small part of the business, but something that was interesting, was the occasional one or few cars of livestock from Western roads, such as ATSF, but I have seen MKT and MP, too.

Regarding routing of N&W coal, generally the shipper under regulation specified the route. If a shipper left the route open, then the originating road could fill in the route on the bill of lading. I imagine some shippers thought that service via Lynchburg VA would be better.

Anniston was quite an industrial area with foundries, a Monsato Chemical plant making the now infamous PCBs, a US Pipe and Foundry plant making excelsior sewer pipes, and textile manufacturing among other things.

Basically, the area sat on limestone, so that commodity did not need to be hauled very far.

Jack Wyatt

On Monday, December 13, 2021, 04:16:03 PM EST, Aidrian Bridgeman-Sutton <abridgemansutton@...> wrote:


When just about everything went by rail your "anything and everything" is spot on, but there were some local characteristics.  I have notes here and there, but they aren't well indexed so this is a little bit of a brain dump rather than a carefully considered and edited report

  • Coal and ore for the Birmingham iron and steel industry came from mines nearby...at least most of it. A fair amount of this traffic originated from mines in the Leeds area and besides through-freights to Atlanta, there were locals serving intermediate places such as Leeds and Anniston. 
  • Despite there being excellent coking coal in the region, some grades of coal came from further afield - there's  one photo taken near Weems, I think by Frank Ardrey,  which shows loaded N&W hoppers.westbound on the Birmingham division. I don't know whether this was the usual routing (I'd be inclined to think routing via Bristol and Chattanooga might be more sensible) , but they are definitely visible in at least one photo. 
  • Limestone traffic doesn't seem to have been especially significant on this part of the system though I am open to correction. It had t come from somewhere, but I haven't seen a lot of evidence for this yet
  • Scrap iron is used in steel making - as much as 20-25%  of the charge in steel making will be ferrous scrap so there would have been scrap metal traffic.   
  • Birmingham was also a major interchange point so general freight going for onward movement on IC and Frisco services, including fruit, vegetables and other perishables

  • Eastbound traffic would have included empties heading back to the mines 
  • Loads would include iron and steel products obviously, including an awful lot of cast iron pipe was shipped. 
  • Domestic and industrial coal...lots of it.  Just about everyone burned coal for heating, washing and cooking and some towns still had coal gas plants rather than natural gas  - Atlanta was connected to natural gas by the 1930s but many towns further away had to wait much longer until the pipeline reached them
  • Tank cars carrying oil products show up regularly, often just a few cars rather than solid block trains as might have been seen during the war. Sinclair cars show up regularly - cars would be empty westbound, loaded eastbound 
  • General trafiic and reefers off the IC and Frisco connections. Something to look out for might be lumber traffic from the Pacific NW due to the postwar construction boom, which resulted in cars like NP boxcars turing up in all sorts of places. 

Aidrian




 


George Eichelberger
 

Jack:

Someone can check the ETTs at the archives this weekend (Fri & Sat) but I suspect most Atl-Mem traffic went via Chattanooga. Between coal traffic and operations on the NA, I cannot see that as the major route?

Ike


On Dec 11, 2021, at 10:18 PM, C J Wyatt <cjwyatt@...> wrote:

One routing that I am curious about is how traffic went during that period between Atlanta and Memphis. Was it via Birmingham or via Chattanooga?

Jack Wyatt

On Thursday, December 9, 2021, 01:36:01 PM EST, James Walton <whovianwil@...> wrote:


I already suspect the answer to this is "anything and everything," considering Atlanta and Bham were massive industrial centers. I suspect the Southern was similar to many railroads in that they brought coal and coke to the steel mills in Bham.


C J Wyatt
 

Thanks Ike, but ETT's will not tell you the classification of traffic and the blocking of trains. I do have a 1946 Birmingham ETT and it does look like a series of no. 54's eastbound could have handled through traffic from Sheffield to Atlanta. The other direction is a bit ambiguous because Southern did not have scheduled westbound through freights in the ETT between Austell and Birmingham. In the later Southern years the traffic between Memphis and Atlanta was handled via Birmingham However the Feb 1, 1929 freight schedules showed it via. Chattanooga. I think that I will vote with you about via Chattanooga. 

Jack Wyatt 


On Monday, December 13, 2021, 08:59:13 PM EST, George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:


Jack:

Someone can check the ETTs at the archives this weekend (Fri & Sat) but I suspect most Atl-Mem traffic went via Chattanooga. Between coal traffic and operations on the NA, I cannot see that as the major route?

Ike


On Dec 11, 2021, at 10:18 PM, C J Wyatt <cjwyatt@...> wrote:

One routing that I am curious about is how traffic went during that period between Atlanta and Memphis. Was it via Birmingham or via Chattanooga?

Jack Wyatt

On Thursday, December 9, 2021, 01:36:01 PM EST, James Walton <whovianwil@...> wrote:


I already suspect the answer to this is "anything and everything," considering Atlanta and Bham were massive industrial centers. I suspect the Southern was similar to many railroads in that they brought coal and coke to the steel mills in Bham.


George Eichelberger
 

Jack:

I agree that ETTs do not tell much about train consists but quantity, running times, how long they were in yards, not to mention the NA track profile may provide a hint. Although I do not know if/how many we have that cover the NA, we have been scanning quite a few Dispatcher’s Train Sheets lately. Those, plus whatever info we have on Norris and DeButts yards and road diesel assignments would help fill in the details.

Come to the work session this weekend!

Ike



On Dec 13, 2021, at 9:38 PM, C J Wyatt <cjwyatt@...> wrote:

Thanks Ike, but ETT's will not tell you the classification of traffic and the blocking of trains. I do have a 1946 Birmingham ETT and it does look like a series of no. 54's eastbound could have handled through traffic from Sheffield to Atlanta. The other direction is a bit ambiguous because Southern did not have scheduled westbound through freights in the ETT between Austell and Birmingham. In the later Southern years the traffic between Memphis and Atlanta was handled via Birmingham However the Feb 1, 1929 freight schedules showed it via. Chattanooga. I think that I will vote with you about via Chattanooga. 

Jack Wyatt 


On Monday, December 13, 2021, 08:59:13 PM EST, George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:


Jack:

Someone can check the ETTs at the archives this weekend (Fri & Sat) but I suspect most Atl-Mem traffic went via Chattanooga. Between coal traffic and operations on the NA, I cannot see that as the major route?

Ike


On Dec 11, 2021, at 10:18 PM, C J Wyatt <cjwyatt@...> wrote:

One routing that I am curious about is how traffic went during that period between Atlanta and Memphis. Was it via Birmingham or via Chattanooga?

Jack Wyatt

On Thursday, December 9, 2021, 01:36:01 PM EST, James Walton <whovianwil@...> wrote:


I already suspect the answer to this is "anything and everything," considering Atlanta and Bham were massive industrial centers. I suspect the Southern was similar to many railroads in that they brought coal and coke to the steel mills in Bham.

<Feb 1 1929 Southern Rwy between Atlanta and Memphis.JPG>


C J Wyatt
 

Ike, sorry that I can't make it. Maybe in a few months.

Jack

On Monday, December 13, 2021, 10:21:54 PM EST, George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:


Jack:

I agree that ETTs do not tell much about train consists but quantity, running times, how long they were in yards, not to mention the NA track profile may provide a hint. Although I do not know if/how many we have that cover the NA, we have been scanning quite a few Dispatcher’s Train Sheets lately. Those, plus whatever info we have on Norris and DeButts yards and road diesel assignments would help fill in the details.

Come to the work session this weekend!

Ike



On Dec 13, 2021, at 9:38 PM, C J Wyatt <cjwyatt@...> wrote:

Thanks Ike, but ETT's will not tell you the classification of traffic and the blocking of trains. I do have a 1946 Birmingham ETT and it does look like a series of no. 54's eastbound could have handled through traffic from Sheffield to Atlanta. The other direction is a bit ambiguous because Southern did not have scheduled westbound through freights in the ETT between Austell and Birmingham. In the later Southern years the traffic between Memphis and Atlanta was handled via Birmingham However the Feb 1, 1929 freight schedules showed it via. Chattanooga. I think that I will vote with you about via Chattanooga. 

Jack Wyatt 


On Monday, December 13, 2021, 08:59:13 PM EST, George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:


Jack:

Someone can check the ETTs at the archives this weekend (Fri & Sat) but I suspect most Atl-Mem traffic went via Chattanooga. Between coal traffic and operations on the NA, I cannot see that as the major route?

Ike


On Dec 11, 2021, at 10:18 PM, C J Wyatt <cjwyatt@...> wrote:

One routing that I am curious about is how traffic went during that period between Atlanta and Memphis. Was it via Birmingham or via Chattanooga?

Jack Wyatt

On Thursday, December 9, 2021, 01:36:01 PM EST, James Walton <whovianwil@...> wrote:


I already suspect the answer to this is "anything and everything," considering Atlanta and Bham were massive industrial centers. I suspect the Southern was similar to many railroads in that they brought coal and coke to the steel mills in Bham.

<Feb 1 1929 Southern Rwy between Atlanta and Memphis.JPG>


James Walton
 

Hi Jack, would that ETT happen to mention where interchanges were on the division?


On Mon, Dec 13, 2021, 22:36 C J Wyatt <cjwyatt@...> wrote:
Ike, sorry that I can't make it. Maybe in a few months.

Jack

On Monday, December 13, 2021, 10:21:54 PM EST, George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:


Jack:

I agree that ETTs do not tell much about train consists but quantity, running times, how long they were in yards, not to mention the NA track profile may provide a hint. Although I do not know if/how many we have that cover the NA, we have been scanning quite a few Dispatcher’s Train Sheets lately. Those, plus whatever info we have on Norris and DeButts yards and road diesel assignments would help fill in the details.

Come to the work session this weekend!

Ike



On Dec 13, 2021, at 9:38 PM, C J Wyatt <cjwyatt@...> wrote:

Thanks Ike, but ETT's will not tell you the classification of traffic and the blocking of trains. I do have a 1946 Birmingham ETT and it does look like a series of no. 54's eastbound could have handled through traffic from Sheffield to Atlanta. The other direction is a bit ambiguous because Southern did not have scheduled westbound through freights in the ETT between Austell and Birmingham. In the later Southern years the traffic between Memphis and Atlanta was handled via Birmingham However the Feb 1, 1929 freight schedules showed it via. Chattanooga. I think that I will vote with you about via Chattanooga. 

Jack Wyatt 


On Monday, December 13, 2021, 08:59:13 PM EST, George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:


Jack:

Someone can check the ETTs at the archives this weekend (Fri & Sat) but I suspect most Atl-Mem traffic went via Chattanooga. Between coal traffic and operations on the NA, I cannot see that as the major route?

Ike


On Dec 11, 2021, at 10:18 PM, C J Wyatt <cjwyatt@...> wrote:

One routing that I am curious about is how traffic went during that period between Atlanta and Memphis. Was it via Birmingham or via Chattanooga?

Jack Wyatt

On Thursday, December 9, 2021, 01:36:01 PM EST, James Walton <whovianwil@...> wrote:


I already suspect the answer to this is "anything and everything," considering Atlanta and Bham were massive industrial centers. I suspect the Southern was similar to many railroads in that they brought coal and coke to the steel mills in Bham.

<Feb 1 1929 Southern Rwy between Atlanta and Memphis.JPG>


C J Wyatt
 

James, ETT's don't usually give the interchange points for revenue and routing purposes, but they give crossings and junctions. From 9/29/1946 ETT.

Jack

On Monday, December 13, 2021, 11:51:32 PM EST, James Walton <whovianwil@...> wrote:


Hi Jack, would that ETT happen to mention where interchanges were on the division?

On Mon, Dec 13, 2021, 22:36 C J Wyatt <cjwyatt@...> wrote:
Ike, sorry that I can't make it. Maybe in a few months.

Jack

On Monday, December 13, 2021, 10:21:54 PM EST, George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:


Jack:

I agree that ETTs do not tell much about train consists but quantity, running times, how long they were in yards, not to mention the NA track profile may provide a hint. Although I do not know if/how many we have that cover the NA, we have been scanning quite a few Dispatcher’s Train Sheets lately. Those, plus whatever info we have on Norris and DeButts yards and road diesel assignments would help fill in the details.

Come to the work session this weekend!

Ike



On Dec 13, 2021, at 9:38 PM, C J Wyatt <cjwyatt@...> wrote:

Thanks Ike, but ETT's will not tell you the classification of traffic and the blocking of trains. I do have a 1946 Birmingham ETT and it does look like a series of no. 54's eastbound could have handled through traffic from Sheffield to Atlanta. The other direction is a bit ambiguous because Southern did not have scheduled westbound through freights in the ETT between Austell and Birmingham. In the later Southern years the traffic between Memphis and Atlanta was handled via Birmingham However the Feb 1, 1929 freight schedules showed it via. Chattanooga. I think that I will vote with you about via Chattanooga. 

Jack Wyatt 


On Monday, December 13, 2021, 08:59:13 PM EST, George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:


Jack:

Someone can check the ETTs at the archives this weekend (Fri & Sat) but I suspect most Atl-Mem traffic went via Chattanooga. Between coal traffic and operations on the NA, I cannot see that as the major route?

Ike


On Dec 11, 2021, at 10:18 PM, C J Wyatt <cjwyatt@...> wrote:

One routing that I am curious about is how traffic went during that period between Atlanta and Memphis. Was it via Birmingham or via Chattanooga?

Jack Wyatt

On Thursday, December 9, 2021, 01:36:01 PM EST, James Walton <whovianwil@...> wrote:


I already suspect the answer to this is "anything and everything," considering Atlanta and Bham were massive industrial centers. I suspect the Southern was similar to many railroads in that they brought coal and coke to the steel mills in Bham.

<Feb 1 1929 Southern Rwy between Atlanta and Memphis.JPG>


George Courtney
 

Fwiw one of Southern's 1950's coal trains off their Appalachia Division carried the nickname "The Birmingham Special".  This from an Ed Wolfe book.  I recall seeing solid coal trains running through Knoxville.  I don't know but suspect that would be a preferred route rather than via Asheville down Saluda to the Washington-Atlanta main.  

George Courtney


James Walton
 

Thanks Jack!


On Tue, Dec 14, 2021, 01:02 C J Wyatt <cjwyatt@...> wrote:
James, ETT's don't usually give the interchange points for revenue and routing purposes, but they give crossings and junctions. From 9/29/1946 ETT.

Jack

On Monday, December 13, 2021, 11:51:32 PM EST, James Walton <whovianwil@...> wrote:


Hi Jack, would that ETT happen to mention where interchanges were on the division?

On Mon, Dec 13, 2021, 22:36 C J Wyatt <cjwyatt@...> wrote:
Ike, sorry that I can't make it. Maybe in a few months.

Jack

On Monday, December 13, 2021, 10:21:54 PM EST, George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:


Jack:

I agree that ETTs do not tell much about train consists but quantity, running times, how long they were in yards, not to mention the NA track profile may provide a hint. Although I do not know if/how many we have that cover the NA, we have been scanning quite a few Dispatcher’s Train Sheets lately. Those, plus whatever info we have on Norris and DeButts yards and road diesel assignments would help fill in the details.

Come to the work session this weekend!

Ike



On Dec 13, 2021, at 9:38 PM, C J Wyatt <cjwyatt@...> wrote:

Thanks Ike, but ETT's will not tell you the classification of traffic and the blocking of trains. I do have a 1946 Birmingham ETT and it does look like a series of no. 54's eastbound could have handled through traffic from Sheffield to Atlanta. The other direction is a bit ambiguous because Southern did not have scheduled westbound through freights in the ETT between Austell and Birmingham. In the later Southern years the traffic between Memphis and Atlanta was handled via Birmingham However the Feb 1, 1929 freight schedules showed it via. Chattanooga. I think that I will vote with you about via Chattanooga. 

Jack Wyatt 


On Monday, December 13, 2021, 08:59:13 PM EST, George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:


Jack:

Someone can check the ETTs at the archives this weekend (Fri & Sat) but I suspect most Atl-Mem traffic went via Chattanooga. Between coal traffic and operations on the NA, I cannot see that as the major route?

Ike


On Dec 11, 2021, at 10:18 PM, C J Wyatt <cjwyatt@...> wrote:

One routing that I am curious about is how traffic went during that period between Atlanta and Memphis. Was it via Birmingham or via Chattanooga?

Jack Wyatt

On Thursday, December 9, 2021, 01:36:01 PM EST, James Walton <whovianwil@...> wrote:


I already suspect the answer to this is "anything and everything," considering Atlanta and Bham were massive industrial centers. I suspect the Southern was similar to many railroads in that they brought coal and coke to the steel mills in Bham.

<Feb 1 1929 Southern Rwy between Atlanta and Memphis.JPG>