NP Freight Operations TT00004







1/15/03 17:33

Skip Caswell

I've been doing some digging around trying to find information on NP freight operations on the west end, specifically between Pasco and Spokane from the 40's to merger.  My information might be somewhat lacking or incorrect, so corrections would be appreciated  Thus far trains 602, 603, 607, 611 and a seasonal fruit train all ran thru Pasco and Spokane.  Train 603 normally had two sections Train 602 had three sections and the fruit train There were also extras and those were numbered either east and west with the engine number.    There are some good books on passenger operations but has anyone written and anything on freight operations.  Compiler  G Tarbox

1/15/03 20:44

Bill Kuebler

Just to help avoid possible confusion about a technical matter... During most, if not all, of the years you're interested in, freight trains in the 600-series operating between St. Paul and Auburn (or points between) actually operated as extras, as in "Extra 7000D West", etc. Operationally--train orders and rules wise--they were not regular trains; they were extras. Here, "regular" means being authorized to run by a schedule in the Employee's Timetable. Even though these trains were extras, the NP did publish "schedules" for them in various documents that were not operational in nature, but mostly for advertising and Traffic Department purposes. These freight train "schedules" also appeared in some public timetables. They were primarily for general reference, but the NP did try to adhere fairly closely to those published schedules, even though the trains were operated as extras. As an example, during the 1960s the 601 and 603 trains would each show up at Dilworth (near where I grew up) within a certain 30-45 minute window just about every day. They were very consistent, and it was unusual for one of those trains to show up at some other time, especially in decent weather. Eastbound trains in the 600 series were less consistent arriving Dilworth, because they had accumulated various delays while running across the system. But even they were quite often fairly consistent, especially train 600. I remember occasions when 600 would show up at nearly the same time for days (nights, after 1963) in a row.  Well before the diesel era, some of the 600-series freights were regular trains (with operational schedules). Those trains were then known generally as "time freights," a phrase sometimes applied to them by NP men even in later years when those trains were running as extras. I don't recall at the moment when the practice of running them by timetable authority ended, but perhaps Jim Fredrickson or Dave Sprau might have that information handy. It was long before my time and probably well before WWII.  Compiler  G Tarbox

1/15/03 20:55

Jim Fredrickson

Missing from your list are:  600  Auburn to Northtown (Hotshot) 606  Auburn to Laurel (Ancestor was the YL Manifest); 610  Pasco to Northtown; 601  Northtown to Auburn (highest priority)  There were fairly frequent Box Car Specials going west which were numbered from the beginning of the year, ie BCS 25 for the 25th one out of Northtown. There were a lot more loaded cars going east than came back loaded west so for car supply they had to return them empty. There were Dead Freights west with low priority traffic. In my earlier days there was a J Manifest eastbound almost every day. It handled all of the open loads of lumber, double and triple loads of poles, etc., and was limited to 35 MPH. There were ongoing changes over the years with 602 and 603 enjoying the greatest longevity. Forgot to mention the glorious years of Silk trains and Cherry Specials as well as Stock Specials, Lettuce Specials, etc., etc.  Buried somewhere in the basement I have a system master time table showing everything ca 1945 and if it ever comes to the surface will let you know.  Compiler  G Tarbox

1/15/03 22:23

Jim Fredrickson

This gets a little confusing but the 600-series trains were scheduled but not in the employee time tables. Dispatchers filed  a telegraphic report  to the General Superintendent of Transportation in St. Paul for each of them at each terminal . This "X-3" would show reasons for delays if they didn't make scheduled running time. St. Paul made a morning situation report to the general officers showing how trains performed. We did the same thing on a division level for the Superintendent and his staff.  In a day or so when I get this table uncluttered will send a sample to the list if anyone is interested.  Compiler  G Tarbox

1/15/03  18:23

John Phillips

Skip Caswell wrote: There are some good books on passenger operations  but has anyone written and anything on freight operations... For books and photos I would try Sanders' _Northern Pacific_ and  Kuebler's _Northern Pacific Color Pictorial Volume Three_.  A follow-on would be _Mainstreeter_ Volume 13, Number 2 (Spring,  1994). This includes Staeheli, Glenn, and William R. Kuebler, Jr.  _Episodes on the Idaho East_. This applies to Spokane-Paradise, but  you should be able to extrapolate some information from it. Most of these are available from the NPRHA Company Store at the  following URL:   It looks like the _Mainstreeter_ is sold out for this issue, but I am  sure the Store would be happy to run off a photocopy for you. You may  have to watch E-bay or search a used book store Web site for  Kuebler's _Northern Pacific.  references, literature, freights  Compiler  C Frissell

12/24/01 9:11

Dick Eisfeller

One minor correction on this. I checked schedules and they show #604 originating at Missoula and #614 at Laurel. In any case only one of these trains would run through Jamestown in 1969. Also one member asked me in a private email about the number of trains on the NP and GN before and after the merger. Below is my answer to that email again with one correction.    West of Casselton the GN had four and sometimes five scheduled through freights in each direction including extras before the merger. The NP had four to six and once in a while seven each way the merger. After the merger the number of scheduled through freights (not counting coal which was beginning to move on this line) on the NP main between Dilworth and Laurel was reduced to two each way (this number was actually three scheduled freights each way, not two) with the other traffic now running on the GN main across northern Montana which averaged around seven each way after the merger. I have data and some personal observations on all of this. The increase in traffic right after the merger was wood product business on the SP&S or north of Vancouver, WA that wad been turned over to the SP or UP before the merger and was now running all the way on BN. The number of trains into Pasco on the former SP&S increased by at least one or freights in each direction after the merger.  Keywords schedules,time table, freights.  Compiler  C Frissell

12/23/01 15:11

Dick Eisfeller

I couldn't resist commenting on this thread as it is my specialty. First a little background. My first visit to the NP around Dilworth and Casselton, my favorite hangout, was in 1966. I made several trips there in the next three years. I also managed in late 1973 to get quite a few wheel reports (consists) from Jamestown showing all NP trains into and out of Jamestown at different times in 1969. I worte an article for the NPRHS, similar to ones that I wrote for the GNRHS, covering operations in Jamestown but it was never published. Among other problems I had no pictures to accompany the article.   Anyway I am quite familar with the trains that NP ran between Dilworth and Jamestown in 1969. Also I am pretty sure that NP #601 along with GN's #97 and their connection in the Twin Cities, CB&Q #97 from Chicago, were begun in November of 1963, about a month after the Milwaukee began the first westbound with third evening arrival out of Chicago on the West Coast, train #261, on 10/26/63. The CB&Q had a #97 before that date but not on the same expedited schedule. In the late 1960's, don't know about before then, NP #606 was a Pasco to Laurel train, connecting with the CB&Q there.   In 1969 NP ran the following freights between Dilworth and Jamestown:Westbounds:#601. The hottest westbound, usually almost all loads. Usually had some autos, 5 to 10 flats of trailers, and 5 - 15 boxes of forwarder merchandise and LCL freight for the Tri-Cities (Pasco) and Portland and Seattle. On Thursdays out of Northtown this train ran as #1/603.#603. This secondary westbound hot shot often ran in two sections, 20 minutes to two hours apart. On Thursdays the regular or first section would run as #2/603. #603 would carry some autos and meat along with other loads and would pickup or set out hot cars at places such as Dilworth and Jamestown.#605. Northtown to Laurel drag. As described before this train worked at all division points enroute (Jamestown, Mandan, Dickinson, Glendive, Forsyth.BCSO. This was the "Boxcar Special" out of Staples (telegraph call signals SO) and was all empty boxes, lumber flats, and reefers for Yardley (Spokane) and beyond. Apparently other extras whose symbols I don't have brought empties to Staples for the BCSO's. From none to two of these ran per day.EXDH. This was a westbound drag that originated in Dilworth, the former #635 train. This train would have some loads but was mostly empties blocked for each division point along the way. At least one EXDH ran per day and sometimes a second one. DH was the telegraph call letters for Dilworth.   In addition you had the Cohasset coal train (loads east, empties west) that was given to the GN at Fargo to take to the Minneapolis, Power, and Light plant at Cohassett, MN.Occasionally an extra west or dead freight west would be run that looked for all the world like an EXDH.Eastbounds:#600 and #610. As stated before #600 and #610 were the hottest eastobunds with perishables, wood products, empty autos, and some piggyback in two blocks - CB&Q and Northtown mixed. Towards the end of the week two sections of #610 might be run. One of my NP thrills was to see #601, #600, and two sections of #610 hammer the diamonds at the GN crossing in St. Cloud in a two hour period just about dawn in the fall of 1969 with all trains running around 60 per.#620. This train originated at Yardley and ran sporadically, usually towards the end of the week if at all. It was 80 to 90% loaded lumber and ran in two sections a few times in 1969. This train was always very heavy and had a similar schedule to #600 and #610 but usually was 4 to 12 hours late into Dilworth. From my records #618 wasn't running in 1969. #602. This was the secondary eastbound manifest from Pasco to Northtown. It ran four to seven days a week and was occasionally superseded by a #620.#604/#614. One of these trains would be run, never both or a second section. I believe that #604 originated in Pasco and #614 at Laurel. This train would carry many cars of stock in the fall. #700. This was the drag from Mandan to Dilworth as mentioned before. #700 could have as many as 120 loads of coal or grain into Dilworth and would work at all division points. This train ran daily except that once in a while if light on tonnage it would be combined with another train, usually #602.One question I have is solid stock trains on the NP. I have no records of solid stock trains on this part of the NP. Were they run and about how many cars would they carry. For comparison the GN ran their stock in regular trains east of Minot with as many as 73 cars of stock in one train as late as the fall of 1968.   This added up to four to seven through freights in each direction between Dilworth and Jamestown.   I would appreciate any comments, corections, or additions to this.  Key wods schedules,time table, freights  Compiler  C Frissell

3/6/02 6:02

Dick Eisfeller

Freight forwarder traffic definitely does not refer to TOFC or COFC  traffic. The freight forwarders of the 1950's (companies such as  Acme Carloading, Superior Carloading, Western Carloading, U.S.  Freight, Clipper Express) and 1960's were the less than full  truckload truckers of their day, handling large packages and less  than full truckload shipments between freight houses where they would  be sorted. Remember when truckers were regulated they couldn't just  carry manufactured goods, as opposed to unregulated agricultural  goods, anywhere they wanted to. Few truckers could carry goods from  Coast to Coast. Regional truckers would have to hand their business  off to another regionsl trucker to carry it a long distance. The  freight forwarders had the authority, if it was needed, to do local  pick up and delivery while the railroads would handle the long haul.  The freight houses in a given metropolitan area would be located on  one railroad giving that railroad the business. This business was  also mostly westbound and was considered to be highly profitable  while it lasted. In the 1950's most medium and long distance moves  would be by rail but LTL truckers such as Yellow Freight were  beginning to infringe on their business. The great freight train  speedups in 1958 and 1959 (1963 to the Pacific Northwest) helped the  freight forwarders keep their long distance business until the early  1970's. The only freight forwarder who has "survived" albeit it in a  much different form, is Clipper Express who now specializes in  perishables as part of ABF, a LTL trucker. In the late 1960's  forwarders began moving some of that business to piggyback but most  was still handled in boxcars. I don't have data from the 1950's on  who had what freight forwarder business in the Northwest, but the  freight houses for most of the forwarders at least in the 1960's in  the state of Washington were located on the UP, GN, and SP&S. I do  have data in the form of freight train consists from the late 1960's  for the GN, NP, MILW, and UP. Then GN had probably 40%, UP about  30%, NP about 15% and the Milwaukee only a few per cent of the long  distance freight forwarder business to the Pacific Northwest. The  65% forwarder merchandise figure below for the Milwaukee in 1950 in  my somewhat expert opinion is highly suspect.  freight forwarder LCL less-than-carload 1960s 1950s  LTL  GN  MILW SP&S SPS  UP  piggyback  TOFC  COFC truckers trucking  Compiler  C Frissell