This is an interesting tome about LCL Freight from the FC list


07/23/01 FC List
Have you ever seen an Edition of the NYC Schedule of Merchandise Cars? I
have the 1951 Edition which has 26 pages of scheduled 1,604 car routes
noting the originating and terminating station of each route, routing
over interchanging RR's when applicable, number of times cars dispatched
per week, days in transit as well as special service such as PACEMAKER,
LCL REEFER CARLINES or Waycars on local freights for each of the routes.
That 1,604 number of routes does not include the truck service NYC

I also have equivalent LCL schedules for sundry years between 1930 and
1961 for the B&M, 1932 & 1936 Boston & Albany,  New Haven, ERIE, DL&W,
C&O including the PM, C&NW and Union Pacific. I have partial schedules
for the GTW and IC. In 1951, the B&A was included in the NYC LCL
Schedule as was the P&LE, P&E, Big Four and MC. 

The New Haven, ERIE & DL&W schedules also include the symbol freight
trains, locals or extras on which each car route was carried. Someone
familiar with any of the other roads cited could probably assign symbol
freights to each of the LCL car routes using a contemporary symbol
freight schedule.

>From all of these LCL Schedules, I have noted the following:

1) Shippers preferred to ship in the late afternoon/early evening after
the day shift was over while consignees preferred to receive prior to
the day shift started. 

2) To accommodate these preferences, railroads attempted to schedule
symbol freights leaving terminals in the prime early evening time and
arriving at other terminals in the wee hours of the morning to the
extent possible. Example: In the late 1940's, the westbound PACEMAKER,
NB-1, left 72nd St. about 7 PM, picked up or set off cars at Albany,
Utica, Rochester and arrived in Buffalo around 6 AM. Meanwhile another
westbound PACEMAKER, BB-1, left Boston about 3 PM, picked up or dropped
cars at Framingham, Worcester, Springfield, Pittsfield, Albany, Utica,
Dewitt and arrived in Buffalo about fifteen minutes later than NB-1. In
order to arrive in Buffalo at roughly the same time with NB-1, BB-1's
departure time had to compromise the preferred early evening prime time.
In Buffalo, NB-1 continued onto to Cleveland arriving at Collinwood
about 1 PM. There, any cars for stations further west were held in the
Collinwood Yard until about 6 PM, Collinwood's prime time, when
connecting symbols left for Chicago, St. Louis and Columbus. While the
NB-1 and BB-1 handled "Merchandise" cars only, the Collinwood departures
contained carload shipments also. 

3) LCL, being a high priority item, got prime-time treatment wherever
possible, although not many roads had separate merchandise only trains. 

4) The purpose of freight trains originating from terminals at off-peak
(non-prime time) hours could be construed, in many ways, as clearing
yards of potential congestion - that congestion being caused by empty
cars or cars loaded with bulk commodities.

5) Local freights generally left terminals in the morning and returning
in the afternoon in order to accommodate the prime time symbol freight

6) LCL was a national distribution system so that any shipper could ship
to any consignee at any location within the USA (& Canada). Because of
the permutations, an elaborate transfer system had to be established
where by LCL shipments could be transferred from one car to another
while en route to the consignee. A 1951 shipment from Amesbury MA to,
lets say, Glenns Ferry ID would have the following routing: A B&M
Transportation Truck would pick up the shipment in Amesbury, and drop it
at the B&M's Lawrence MA Transfer. If the shipment arrived before 4 PM,
it would be placed in a car bound, lets say, to the NYC's Utica Transfer
on B&M train LM-1 leaving at 5 PM. LM-1 terminated at East Deerfield so
the car containing the shipments for Utica had to be placed on B&M
symbol BR-1 leaving East Deerfield around 12:30 AM. BR-1 ran through to
NYC's Dewitt Yard becoming NYC YD-3 at Rotterdam Jct. NY (power was
usually exchanged at Mechanicville). 

Around 10 AM, YD-3 arrived in Utica where the car originated at Lawrence
was dropped off and set at the Utica Transfer House. There, the Amesbury
shipment would be transferred from the Lawrence car to another which
terminated at the Union Pacific's North Platte NE Transfer. Because, the
car was to be interchanged, it was ineligible for PACEMAKER service;
thus, it had to go on ordinary symbols through Dewitt, Collinwood and
IHB's Gibson Yard. There the car would be transferred to C&NW's Proviso
Yard where it was put on a train destined for Omaha/Council Bluffs for
interchange to the UP. 

On the fifth day after leaving Utica, the Utica car with the Amesbury
shipment would finally arrive at UP's North Platte Transfer. There the
shipment would be transferred to a car terminating at Pocatello three
days later. The next day, the shipment would be placed on the waycar of
the local to Glenns Ferry with the shipment arriving sometime the same
day - approximately eleven days after it was shipped from Amesbury. In
total, the shipment was carried in one truck and four freight cars in
its eleven day trek.

7) Other LCL Transfer Stations which I have noted from my meager supply
of LCL Car Route Schedules include (not an all-conclusive list):

Maine Central - Portland ME
B&M - Mechanicville NY, Lawrence MA
New Haven - Cedar Hill (near New Haven) CT, Providence RI, Maybrook NY
Canadian Pacific - Newport VT
Central Vermont - St. Albans VT
Grand Trunk Western - Port Huron MI
NYC - Utica NY, Cleveland OH, Gibson Transfer IN
ERIE - Hornell NY
DL&W - Scranton PA
Lehigh Valley - Manchester NY
Central States Dispatch (B&O, RDG, CNJ) - Elizabethport NJ, Wayne Jct.
PA, Reading PA & Cumberland MD
PRR - Trenton NJ, Philadelphia Transfer PA, Wilkes-Barre PA, Pitcairn
(Pitts.)Transfer  & many others
C&O (Chesapeake District) - Clifton Forge VA, Huntington WV, Ashland KY
C&O (Pere Marquette) - Detroit & Grand Rapids MI
ACL - South Rocky Mount NC 
SAL - Hamlet NC
SOU - Spencer NC, John Sevier Yard (Knoxville) TN
C&NW - Proviso Yard IL
CB&Q - Galesburg IL
MILW - Galewood Yard (Chicago) IL
CRI&P - Burr Oak IL
AT&SF - Kansas City MO
UP - North Platte Transfer NE

(This is an incomplete list biased by the limited number of LCL Route
schedules which I have seen).

8) A description of the C&NW's Proviso Transfer was published in the
Nov. 15, 1927 issue of RAILWAY AGE. Reputed to being the largest
Transfer in the US (structure covered over 20 acres complete with twelve
outbound tracks and four inbound - the total car capacity was 690 plus
truck bays). This Transfer point was designed to consolidate freight
from 19 freight houses in the Chicago Area as well as perform transfer
operations of shipments delivered in cars delivered by the B&OT and IHB. 

As per the October 1945 C&NW LCL Schedule, 1,104 (or 46%) of C&NW's
total weekly 2,337 (121,524 annually) LCL car routes were either
originated or terminated at Proviso Transfer per the breakdown below:

	Originated at Proviso/C&NW	Terminated at Proviso/C&NW
	Terminated	Inter-		Originated	Inter-		
	  on the C&NW 	changed		on the C&NW	changed
PROVISO		417	  156		    171		  360
Total C&NW    1,853	  453		  1,874		  477
Other C&NW	NMF	  297		   NMF		  117
   PROVISO % of Total	  35%				  75%

That there was a much higher percentage of cars interchanged being
terminated at Proviso (75%) of the total than the 35% vice versa is
pretty much the pattern followed nationally. Generally, originating
railroads loaded LCL into cars at many points for one destination per
interchanging railroads - for instance in 1951, the NYC scheduled cars
for 13 different stations on the NYC to one terminus on the B&M,
Mechanicville NY Transfer, while 15 different cities on the B&M
originated cars to two stations on the NYC - 15 at Utica Transfer and
one to Detroit. (Boston originated cars to both Utica  Transfer and

9) It should be noted that the number of LCL routes scheduled weekly to
or from any locations was not the same as the number of cars loaded or
unloaded weekly. Scheduled cars could be annulled. Unscheduled cars
could be loaded if the tonnage justified a car which basically skipped a
scheduled transfer point - e.g. in the Amesbury MA - Glenns Ferry ID
example, an unscheduled car would be a Lawrence MA - North Platte car
which basically skipped Utica. Because of other shipments, there would
still be cars scheduled between Lawrence & Utica and Utica & North
Platte. On busier routes, there might be two, three or more cars loaded
daily versus the one car shown per the schedule. 

The C&NW probably had a great deal more LCL carloadings than the 2,337
weekly (121,524 annualized) per the schedule. The 1,604 routes scheduled
7,634 carloadings weekly (396,968 annualized) was probably another low
estimate of LCL & Merchandise Carloadings on the NYC in 1951. According
to the AAR's Car Service Bureau's National CARLOADING Statistics
(published monthly in RAILWAY AGE), LCL & Merchandise Carloadings was
9.7% of Total in 1945, and 9.0% in 1951.

10) While PROVISO may have been the largest Transfer Station
structurally, NYC's Utica Transfer had more routes originating or
terminating - in 1951, 558 originated and 601 terminated weekly for a
total of 60,268 carloadings when annualized. Utica did not have the
local traffic which Proviso had. Most of Utica's raison d'etre was to
transfer LCL originating in New England and the Hudson River Valley for
points west. Direct cars were sent westward to San Francisco (SP), North
Platte (UP), the Chicago Granger Roads (C&NW, CB&Q, CRI&P and the MILW),
Memphis (IC/MP), Cincinnati (B&O, L&N), Columbus (PRR) as well as most
of the other cities to the west served by the NYC. Eastbound, there was
not the demand for LCL transfer as it was westbound - most of the
equivalent transfers having been already made in NYC stations to the

Utica Transfer replaced West Albany Transfer in 1935-1936, ten years
after the Castleton Bridge and Selkirk Yard were built. Utica's location
was selected because it was the first large city west of the merger of
the B&A, Hudson Division and West Shore Line up from Weehawken. There
should be an article in a 1935-1936 RAILWAY AGE issue, but I have failed
to locate it.

11) B&M's "A House" in Boston may be a good example of a distribution
hub originating LCL cars. Boston served as the distribution center for
all of New England. By the 1930's, next day LCL service was provided
from Boston to all stations on the B&M except for the stretch between
Whitefield and Berlin NH - the Brown Paper Mill in Berlin demanding
prime-time service of its own - most of the stations on the MEC and BAR,
points north of White River Junction VT on the Central Vermont, the
Canadian Pacific from Wells River and Newport VT, short lines like the
SJ&LC, B&C(M&WR), B&ML. 

Between 6:30 PM and 9:30 PM each evening, eight symbol freights left
Boston making set-outs and pick ups to or from connecting trains as per
the following:    

6:30 BM-3 Boston-East Deerfield-Mechanicville - connections at ED from
trains from Springfield, WRJ, and Worcester. At Mechanicville, to D&H
with connections for the PRR, DL&W, ERIE and LV.

6:35 BU-1 Boston-Lowell-Concord-WRJ-Newport (CP) - connections at Lowell
from Lawrence, at WRJ, for the Central Vermont, from Springfield, from
Manchester & Nashua. train carried Boston & Lawrence - Chicago cars
routed via CV/CN/GTW and CP/WAB and a Lawrence-St. Louis car via the
CP-WAB besides the cars to the Transfers at St. Albans and Newport.

7:05 B-11 Boston-Portland-Bangor - non-stop to Portland where cars were
dropped for all MEC symbol and local freights leaving from there.

7:50 351-X Boston-Nashua-Manchester-Concord-WRJ - drop Bostons, Nashuas,
Manchesters for BU-1 or CV.

8:00 BR-1 Boston-East Deerfield-Mechanicville-Rotterdam-Dewitt
(run-thru) - deliveries to the NYC; at ED, pick up LCL cars from
Lawrence, Lowell, Nashua, Fitchburg, Worcester, Gardner, Connecticut
Valley North & south of ED for Utica Transfer.

8:30 BW-1 Boston-Worcester - most of the LCL originating by the B&M in
Boston and the immediate metropolitan area for New Haven points was
trucked across town in order to provide next morning delivery in New
York City.

8:45 BX-1 Boston-Fitchburg-Ayer-Bellows Falls for connections to the

9:30 BP-5 Boston-Lawrence-Dover-Biddeford-Portland.

BT-1 left Boston at 11:45 and delivered cars to stations from Fitchburg
west to Troy NY - essentially a local without a waycar.

BQ-1 left Boston at 3:15 AM for Portsmouth NH as a glorified local on
B&M's old Eastern division. It did carry a waycar for stations north of
Newburyport MA.

"A House" in Boston was the subject of a May 28, 1937 RAILWAY AGE
article. This freight house essentially consolidated LCL originating at
50 Freight Houses in the Boston-Somerville-West Cambridge-Revere-Chelsea
area. This consolidation was made possible with the substitution of
horse & wagons by trucks in the 1920's as a result of beter streets and
highways. A House was 700' long, 200' of it being a six story warehouse,
with twelve tracks with only two car floor-high platforms - loading and
on adjacent tracks was done through freight car doors. 

12) Freight Houses usually "closed" about an hour to an hour and a half
before the Symbol Freight was scheduled to leave. About fifteen minutes
prior to the departure of the train, cars were pulled from the House.
Since there was not enough time to classify these cars, pre-blocking had
to be done while the car was being loaded. At B&M's Lawrence Transfer,
there was only one westbound symbol departing from Lawrence daily, LM-1
scheduled to depart at 5 PM. 

Lawrence not only served as a collection point for LCL from Northeastern
Massachusetts, the Merrimack River Valley and eastern New Hampshire for
points south & west. Textiles, Shoes, small Machinery and Spare Parts
were big LCL items. Shipments were picked up locally by trucks - the
definition of "local" expanded as highways improved - Waycars, and some
direct cars from small part manufacturers who shipped mostly via LCL.
Lawrence Transfer was also the terminus for most LCL originated on the
New Haven and PRR. LCL from most of the West (from the NYC, ERIE, LV and
DL&W, the last three via the D&H) would be transferred into Lawrence
cars at B&M's Mechanicville Transfer. So Lawrence transfer received LCL
throughout the day via the symbol freights, but most of the LCL local
and waycar receipts were in the afternoon before 4 PM when Lawrence
Transfer "closed."

Cars unloaded were reloaded without being reset. Until a tally of LCL
shipments was made, there was no certainty of what routes were annulled,
what routes were "multiple" (two or more cars) or unscheduled. While
some loading could be done before 4 PM, most of it had to be done in the
45 minutes before the cars were pulled at 4:45. This would have wreaked
havoc on the Interchange Rule requiring foreign car empties to be
reloaded with termini in the direction of the home road - the rule had
to be and was ignored not only by the B&M, but also most other roads not
having unique equipment like the NYC's PACEMAKER boxcars.

In 1940, LM-1 left Lawrence with cars for 30 different scheduled
termini. Drops were made per the following:

Lowell - 10 for BU-1 terminating at Chicago (CP-WAB), St. Louis
(CP-WAB), Newport VT Transfer (CP), Chicago (CV-GTW), St. Albans
Transfer & Burlington VT(CV), White River Jct. VT, Concord & Laconia NH.

Lowell - 5 for the B&M-NH Portland NY Maine Bullet (for Worcester,
Providence (NH), Cedar Hill Transfer (NH), New York (NH) & Philadelphia
Transfer (PRR).   

Lowell - 2 for BU-3, a symbol leaving Boston at 4:30 AM for
Lowell-Nashua-Manchester-Concord and WRJ with cars for Nashua and

Lowell - 1 for the Lowell Freight House.

Fitchburg - 2 for BX-1 (for Keene NH & Rutland VT Rutland RR)

Fitchburg - 1 for the Fitchburg Freight House.

East Deerfield - 1 for ES-2 for Holyoke MA.

East Deerfield - 4 for RB-1 (cars terminating at North Adams MA, Utica
Transfer (NYC), Cleveland and Detroit.

East Deerfield - 4 for WM-1, the Worcester-Gardner-ED-Mechanicville (D&H
connections) including cars terminating at D&H's Mechanicville Transfer,
ERIE's Hornell NY Transfer, PRR's Wilkes Barre & Pitcairn (Pittsburgh)
PA Transfers.

(LM-1 was a misnomer; it terminated at East Deerfield. It should have
been symbolled LE-1.)

13) Many smaller cities had LCL action like Boston and Lawrence although
probably without the intensity or complicated routing caused by the B&M
being territorial rather than linear like the Boston & Albany where
there were relatively few branches off the Boston-Albany (Selkirk) Main

14) Waycars were cars which were unloaded or loaded while en route on
local trains. As highways improved, these waycars were replaced by
trucks. Many railroads established trucking subsidiaries in the 1920's
and 1930's. By 1947, the New Haven had replaced all waycars except one
on the thrice weekly Hyannis-Provincetown local. The UP in Kansas,
Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming used trucks for local service along their
main lines in 1951, but used waycars on their branch line service
(usually mixed trains).

What has been presented in the foregoing are the rudiments of the LCL
distribution system from about 1930 to the early 1950's. Skeptics may
scoff at whether the railroads could adhere to the schedules advertised
as to days of arrival. But these schedules provided an operating plan as
to how LCL was to be shipped, handled and delivered. Without any
operating plan, chaos would have reigned because there would be no
benchmark of normality which freight house foremen, yardmasters or
dispatchers could refer to.

No doubt, there will be challenges and/or questions about this analysis.
Let's discuss them so that each of us can learn more about LCL and its
effect upon train operations whether it be in the 1930-1950 time frame
or on a scale model railroad today.

Tim Gilbert

07/26/01 FC list
> You should seriously consider submitting this for publication somewhere.  

The July 23rd Posting will be published subject to some editing - I have
no idea of how much space it will occupy. This should be considered as
only an introduction to LCL.

> article illustrated with images of transfer stations, way cars, and
> dedicated rolling stock would be a big hit.  

Taking the easy one first, to simulate a waycar on an operating layout
would require only pulling the peddler freight with the waycar adjacent
to the town's freight house, have the operating crew go out for a beer
(beans), return, and continue onto the next town. The beer period would
represent the time that the scale train & freight house crews took to
load and/or unload the merchandise for the town from the car. No
additional model real estate would be required.

Considerably more real estate would be required for a medium-sized
city's freight house, and much more for a transfer house. But what are
the essences of operation that the modeler might want to acquire?

A) Parallel tracks to afford through door loading. 
B) Cars set in the AM and pulled in the PM (for city freight houses -
for transfer stations, the schedule requirements of trains may require
different timing - indeed, the larger transfer houses could have a
couple of cycles daily). It was difficult to move cars during the day
because of the unloading process. Quick turnaound.
C) Pre-blocking in order to avoid major yard classification prior to
D) Random routing (chance cards) for LCL shipments. Because the routing
of cars, even though scheduled, may suddenly be changed, the blocks of
cars could suddenly change as LCL was received during the day. This
randomness could mean that foreign cars empties may not be loaded back
in the direction of their home roads.
E) Short elapsed time between the pulling of the freight house and the
departure of the freight.  

I will not suggest how this operation will be replicated on a layout.

Very little rolling stock was dedicated to LCL. These cars were
generally restricted to their home roads like the red & gray NYC
Pacemaker cars. To put them in with hoi polloi of the transfer house
denizens could confuse pre-blocking and classifying operations. I
surmise that, at Utica Transfer, they had to be unloaded, pulled, and
then, reset for loading for the PACEMAKER train only.

Some transfer houses had both in- and outbound tracks. Proviso was one;
I don't know about Utica. Thus the pulling of empties could be a normal
function, but problems could develop on the reloading of these dedicated
cars. By the way, Proviso may have been the largest LCL House when built
in 1927, but its design weakness seemed to be inadequate holding space
for shipments unloaded, but not reloaded.

By far, general service boxcars were the most predominant type in LCL
service. They were the higher grade of boxcars - free of loading of
unctuous or contaminating commodities. In Nov-Dec 1947, however, 82
(45%) of the 184 total cars carrying LCL as per Union Pacific Conductor
Fraley's Wheel Reports were reefers. Fraley was assigned to the
sub-division between Laramie and Rawlins WY - main line action if there
ever was one. This high percentage may have been attributable in part to
a combination of factors: - 1) the 1947 boxcar shortage, 2) the demand
for boxcars for grain loading to the east in Nebraska and Kansas, and 3)
that the reefers would otherwise be empty on their way back to the
Pacific Coast for loading of perishables.

> I think LCL is particullarly
> fascinating to people these days because of the increased awareness of
> operation and the interest of many of us in railroading from the 20's to
> 50's.  The allure of a unit train for me is short lived.  But the routing
> possibilities of LCL are endless.  

I can't agree with you more, but some may consider us as Neanderthals -
so what!

Thanks for the kudos. Hope this helps,

Tim Gilbert

S.A. McCall