Thursday, August 23, 2018

Freight Symbols Over Tehachapi - (Part 5) ATSF West

In the previous posts on the topic of Freight Symbols Over Tehachapi, I laid out my history and overview of the concept of symbols for freight movement, and Southern Pacific's freight symbols and local jobs.

ATSF 140 leads a freight eastward through the "Caliente Narrows"

I should point out that Santa Fe was one of the only railroads in the USA which used an alpha date system instead of a numeral date system for each day of the month.  Symbols would be shown in the format "1/59-A", which would be the First Section of Symbol 59, originating on the 1st of the month out of Chicago.

Santa Fe's Date Letter Code, Used on all but two of Santa Fe's freight symbols (SWG and GWS). Excerpt scanned from LMRC document.

In this post I'll be starting the posts about the Santa Fe's freight symbols with the westward symbols by priority and speed shown on the symbol schedule: (Note I'll be using "AT" ahead of each symbol, as it's one of the ways we help crews on switchlist routing to know that the symbol's a Santa Fe symbol.)Edited 10-20-2018 with corrected and added symbols

Westward Santa Fe Symbols From Chicago

The Santa Fe was one of the main railroad connections from Chicago and the eastern 'department stores' shipping merchandise cars to the west coast.  Trains 59, 49, and 99 generally are pretty similar in consist, but with subtle differences.  Usually the LMRC sessions rotate the Santa Fe merchandise "Core Blocks" around between the various Train 59/49/99 symbols out of the East Staging yard, adding and removing the automobile cars makes or breaks the 59 symbol option.

AT Train 59

ATSF's 59 symbol cruises along the Edison Hwy and pounds over the crossovers at Mt. Vernon Ave in Bakersfield with an auto-parts block on the rear end.

"Operates from Corwith (Chicago) to Richmond with loads and special empties (Auto-Parts traffic) destined Edison, Calif. and points north.  Operates daily."

The Train 59 symbol primary traffic was automobile parts (Auto-Parts) traffic and automobile cars.  Some of the auto-parts and merchandise traffic was transferred to the Southern Pacific at Bakersfield for SP destinations in the greater San Fransisco Bay Area.  Perhaps 30-50% of the cars in Train 59 symbol might be interchanged to the SP at Bakersfield.

Meat reefer and livestock traffic also moved on 59 symbol.

AT Train 49 and A-49

ATSF 225 at Mojave working 49-D with an auto block and returning reefers with lcl.

"Operates from Corwith (Chicago's Yard), Argentine (Kansas City) operates with loads and special empties destined to Edison, Calif. and points north.  Operates daily."

Often Train 49 was used for traffic which couldn't fit on the hotter Train 59 symbol train.  It was primarily used for merchandise traffic and special empties, which could include auto-parts traffic and other 'boarded' empties which were moving under waybills.  Again, much of the consist would be interchanged at Bakersfield to the SP for the SF Bay Area.

Sections of Train 49 originating at Argentine were symboled "A-49", as opposed to "49" for the Corwith originating symbol sections.

Westward Santa Fe Symbols from Kansas City

AT Train 99

The Train 99 symbol was another merchandise train, but it primarily gathered east coast merchandise traffic coming in via Kansas City, not coming via Chicago.  Again, much of the consist would be interchanged at Bakersfield to the SP for the SF Bay Area.

Westward Santa Fe Symbols from Texas, via Belen, NM.

AT GCF - Gulf Coast Forwarder

"Originates Temple, Texas with loads and special empties.  Originating Temple and points south and destined for Northern California points."

An example of a GCF which is going to be switched out at Bakersfield

The GCF has mostly Texas-Bay Area traffic, and has traffic for Bakersfield for local and SP Bay Area destinations, much of the later was petro-chem traffic to the plants along the bay between San Pablo and Antioch.  Any cars for north of Bakersfield would probably be put on the NCX at Barstow or Bakersfield.

Conoco and Texaco cars were common on the GCF

One of the primary traffic components is chemical and petroleum tankcars.  Texas was also one of the larger LPG producing ares.  Livestock would also move on the GCF, but would probably be transferred to one of the faster symbols at Belen, such as Train 59.

Westward Symbols from San Bernardino, via Barstow

AT SWG - Santa Fe-Western Pacific-Great Northern

ATSF 212 leads the SWG as it approaches Kern Jct. and shows its consist nicely in this photo.

"Joint Santa Fe-Western Pacific-Great Northern train operating from Los Angeles to Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle via Santa Fe, WP Stockton (Mormon Yard) and GN Beiber.  From Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Barstow, Bakersfield handles loads (heavily canned goods) destined Beiber and beyond.  Uses numerical date symbol rather than letter code to conform with WP and GN practice."

SWG-7 at Cable with empty lumber cars and wine cars, and a few reefers at the head-end.

The SWG was the symbol for loads to points north of Stockton would be routed on this symbol, this often included some SFRD reefers would be routed north for the Pacific Northwest cities.

On some slow days the SWG could combine or fill with NCX traffic.

AT NCX - North California eXtra

An NCX arriving Bakersfield with traffic for northern CA and interchange traffic to the SP.

"Originates Los Angeles and operates Los Angeles/San Bernardino to Stockton/Richmond.  Handles all traffic destined Bakersfield and beyond.  May be filled at intermediate terminals with north loads and empties as train length permits."

In the days before the hump yard at Barstow the NCX had to change directions.  During the time at Barstow yard, the NCX could pickup any cars from San Diego train (SBX).

The NCX handled lots of traffic for the huge canning operations at Empire, near Modesto.

Westward Symbol from Barstow

AT DRAG - Reefers West to Bakersfield

Santa Fe 'Drag' approaches Caliente with over 90 empty SFRD reefers for Bakersfield and Calwa.

The AT DRAG symbol was usually used for empty cars of any type, often returning foreign cars before the midnight assessment of the demurge.  Over Tehachapi the Santa Fe often used this symbol almost exclusively for the movement of thousands of empty SFRD reefers per month to Bakersfield for conditioning and repair.  (San Bernardino was the other major SFRD "conditioning" facility.)

Here a large string of reefers is prepared to leave town on Track 3.  This string could be part of a Drag or 1st Dis. Extra.

The Santa Fe Drags of SFRD reefers would arrive at Bakersfield and the cars would be serviced.  Once serviced cleaned cars could be iced and sent out on the locals for loading, forwarded to Calwa (Fresno) or Mormon (Stockton) yards, sent for potato loading at Arvin or be sent out for dry loading with things such as canned goods, or stored for the 'rush' of the harvest seasons to hit.  During the peak of the harvest over 17,000 reefers were loaded on the Santa Fe's Valley Division in one month, and most of it moved over Tehachapi heading to the eastern markets.

An Ice Break

The SFRD Icing Deck at Bakersfield was equipped in the early 1950's with a mechanical icing machine, which rode on top of the deck on rails.  The manual loading of ice usually took about 2-3 men per car and about 15 minutes to slide the blocks of ice over and break them up into the bunkers of each car.  The icing machines lowered the man power to one or two men to run the machine and feed ice into it from the deck, and only took 2-3 minutes per car!  Two ice machines were located on the long ice deck and one on the shorter deck at Bakersfield.

AT BAW - BArstow West

ATSF 225LABC prepares to depart Mojave with the BAW-G on Jan 7, 1953.

The BAW was the Santa Fe's 'dog train' westward over Tehachapi.  This train forwarded low priority traffic west from Barstow to Bakersfield. 

Lots of Santa Fe cars in the plant at Monolith today.  BAW regularly picks up and sets out at Monolith for the KI Local to switch.

This included cars for Boron, Mojave, Monolith and Bakersfield.  The empties for Monolith and Barstow would be dropped and worked by locals (SP's KI Local and Mojave-Barstow Local respectively).   Through traffic was then forwarded on BFW to Calwa.  Any remaining traffic went to the locals out of Bakersfield or interchanged to the SP at Kern Jct.

"Northwest Empties" (Drag) - (New 10-20-2018 addition)

The "North-west Empties" train, which took care of all the empty 'long norths' on the Santa Fe out of Southern CA and Bakerfield.  This was the primary returning symbol for empty Western Pacific and Great Northern, the friendly connections for the Santa Fe to the north.

This symbol gathers all record rights interchange traffic for WP, GN, CN, SP&S.  This symbol is combined to form the 'lumber blocks' in the GWS at Calwa Staging Yard.

Arvin Branch

ATSF 966 leads an Arvin Turn out past Kern Jct.

Technically the Arvin trains return westward to Bakersfield over about 3 miles of the Tehachapi Sub.  However, I've covered the Arvin Branch briefly in the SP Local operations, and will write a post specifically on the Arvin Branch operations in detail.

Westward Symbols from Bakersfield

AT BFW - BakersField West

The BFW was the continuing symbol for the BAW 'dog train' west to the yard at Calwa, near Fresno.  This train took care of cars for stations between Bakersfield and Fresno.

AT 55 "Super Local"

I believe that's the 55-Local being assembled on Track 8, on the track in front of the Waycars, with the tank cars and reefers.

The 55 Local works out of Bakersfield, up to Calwa, then around and comes back on the east side line, rejoining the Santa Fe main and returns to Bakersfield on the second day as 56 Local.  This two day cycle earned this local the nickname 'Super Local'.

The 55/56 Local covers local deliveries for the sheds and towns west of Bakersfield supplying empty iced reefers, merchandise, fuel oil, boxcars for canned goods, and grain service, etc.

ATSF 1421, an older 'truss rod' 1300-class Waycar is assigned to local service on Train 55/56

The 55/56 Local at LMRC is regularly assigned Waycar 1421 out of Bakersfield.

AT 1st Dist. Extra

Here a 1st Distict Extra prepares to depart west from Bakersfield with a string of clean and iced empty SFRD reefers.

The Santa Fe also used what they called the First District Extra to work additional seasonal reefer traffic and boxcars into the Valley between Bakersfield and Calwa.  This was basically a train that supplied empties to the packing sheds and canneries.  The huge canneries at Empire (near Fresno) received large numbers of empty boxcars for shipment east.

In Closing

Arvin Turn prepares to crossover and return to Bakersfield as a freight blasts by on the Eastward Main Track at Magunden

This wraps up the Santa Fe's Westward Symbols for the Tehachapi Pass.  Next post I'll be talking about the Eastward Symbols for the Santa Fe.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Freight Symbols Over Tehachapi (Part 1) - My Story Learning Operations - Overview of LMRC growth in operations and my 20 years learning about prototype historical operations.

1 comment:

  1. With respect to refrigerator cars, I believe the term was "conditioning" rather than "reconditioning".For those not familiar with this, conditioning was the procedure for repairing and preparing refrigerator cars:
    Hardware and interior lining repaired or replaced, seals, hatch covers and plugs checked.
    Interiors cleaned and ice removed, water drains and air grills cleared and car checked for odors.


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