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h y model a milk train? B ecause the milk service was one of the most action-packed aspects of real railroad operations. Early in the pre-dawn hours a locomotive and, perhaps, a passenger coach or two and a few baggage or postal storage or express box or other head-end cars would head for the city from some distant farm town. Along the way, the train would collect a car (or two or three) at each milk-loading dairy company on its route. The cars would, in turn, be spotted at one or two major milk bottling plants in the city before the sun began to rIse. All those milk cars needed to be returned to their "home" plants, hope fu l ly by the end of the day. The individual cars (or groups of two or three cars, would be spotted into the first available train out of the city. On some roads, that might be a passenger local, on others it would be a fre ight. There were few (if any) cars that saw as much action on a real railroad. Few cars had the quick turnaround demands of the milk car. Hoppers might be used to viltually store coal (it might take a month for the average hopper to be loaded, unloaded and returned to the mine for a second load). A car that moves as often as a milk car is something a modeler interested in operation ought to know about. The milk cars needed to be washed before reloading, and it's doubtful that every car made it back to the dairy shipper every day. Even the smallest dairies seemed to own or lease "sets" of two or more cars to assure a clean car every morning of every week for milk shipments to the city.
Milk Shipments...Made for Modelers
modeler, the mil k car can provide the excuse for more switching action than any car except a caboose. You don ' t need to devote an entire train to mil k service. The real railroads sometimes added a milk car to the back of the pre-dawn passenger trains into the city if there were not enough dairy customers on that stretch of track to j ustify an entire milk train.
Milk Trains in the Midwest
MILK CARS IN THE MIDWEST IN 1929
F rom listings i n t he January 1929 OFFICIAL RAILW A Y E QUIPMENT REGISTER
Total of 22 cars Class BM, n umbers 949-956, converted from box cars; listed as 34 a nd 3 7 feet long; also reference to 5 1 foot-long c ars. Retired b y 1 93 3 .
W hen most of us think about milk trains, we think of them as solid blocks of cars that looked like express reefers coupl ed behind a l ocomotive with, perhaps, another head-end car or two and a coach for the crew and some very patient passengers. That ' s the way the milk train looked when most photo graphers saw it in the city. When you understand the basic purpose of that train was to collect carloads of milk from several different dairies, you can begin to see that it was a very busy train for the crew. For the
T here has been surprising ly little written about milk trains that operated in the midwest. Several magazines have carried articl es abo ut the cars and operations of m i l k trains in and out of Boston and New York. Similar service was provided to other cities incl uding Detroit, Chicago, M il wau kee, C l eveland, Atlanta, N ew Orleans, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and, perhaps, even Los Angeles. It can be d i fficult to identify a milk train from a photograph because the vast majority of mil k cars look almost exactly l i ke express reefers, especially those that ran in the midwest. In 1 928, there were at l east 1 67 milk cars dedicated to the shipment of milk from dairies in I llinois and Wisconsin. Sixty-four (or more) of them belonged to General American Transportation Company, l eased to dairies in the midwest. The dairies themsel ves owned another 1 03 c ars. A l l o f these were milk tank cars that l ooked like wood express reefers. The Chicago and NorthWestern apparently had about 1 00 e xpress reefers designed as class " B M" milk cars, the Chicago Great Western had 1 2 "BM" m ilk cars, and it is likely the New York Central used at least part of its fleet of 4 32 "BM" m ilk cars for service to ( not from) the midwest. There's no doubt that at least twice thi many cars were devoted to milk shipments into Philadelphia, New York, Boston and the other eastern cities. There was, however, still a tremendous amount of milk shipped in the midwest. It is difficult to determine just how much milk was shipped in large milk cars inside those class "BM" i nsulated CN&W and N YC milk c ars or how much was shipped inside the express reefers of a l l the railroads. It's likely that almost as much was collected in cans as in those dedicated milk tank cars and "BM" m ilk cars.
Total o f 2 5 7 m ilk c ars ; t wo groups: Class BM, numbers 1 40 1 - 1 476 Class BM, n umbers 1 5 1 00- 1 5498 (Even numbers only; under 60 feet l o ng)
M I LW reefers
0 mil k cars; 45 express
SOO 21 milk cars; assOlted groups; assigned to Chicago Division C lass B M, n umbers 2600-2609 (oompany-built m ilk cars); Numbers 1 60 8 , 1 675-1684 were probably baggage cars (based on numbers) assigned as milk cars
O ther Chicago-area roads showing milk cars C&EI 2 cars, Class BM, numbers P584,P585 CGW 4 cars, Class BM, numbers 470-473 IC 2 c ars, Class B M, numbers 600 l , 6002, "Special M ilk," under 60 feet
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Art Griffin Decals www.greatdecals.comlGriffill.htm Decals for 40 and 50-foot wood m ilk
D airyman's Renken's Abbotts M i lky Way Concord Junction P.O. B ox 592 Acton, M A 0 1 720 Decals for 40 and 50-foot wood and steel cars M icroscale 87-1030 and 160-1030 Pfaudler 40-foot stee l cars
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RAILMODELjOURNAL . AUGUST 2005 "