“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” — Benjamin Franklin, Part II

We will now focus on the “beer caddies” used to get the beer from the brewery to the distributor, especially in the 1990s.

A long time ago, brewers shipped beer in cars that advertised their product.


Per the Colorado Railroad Museum, for several years beginning in 1934 Adolph Coors Company had a fleet of 30 of these cars to transport its product in the Rocky Mountain area.

This advertising practice continued through the 1960s.


Hamm’s Beer boxcar from the 1960s.

More recently, beer is shipped in cars lettered for railroads or private leasing companies.


Coors Brewery in Golden, CO, shows 8 railroad boxcars simultaneously being loaded with beer for distribution. These 8 boxcars alone carry the same amount of beer as 32 semi tractor-trailers.

The above cars waiting to be loaded at Coors Brewery are lettered for BNSF and predecessor road, ATSF.  Below is a closer photo of such cars.


ATSF 625385 in Denver CO on Aug 7 2013 — Photo by Paul Rice

Now for some 1990s beer cars that could appear on my ATSF in Roswell in the 90s.


Western Pacific 67030 in Elmira NY on Aug 21, 1989 –Photo by Greg Dickinson


WP 67021 in Iler OH on Oct 28 2006–Photo by Joe Rogers


Three loads of beers being delivered to the Roswell Budweiser distributor in the early 1990s. Many of the Western Pacific cars were painted into this livery after the Union Pacific bought the Western Pacific in 1983. The cars trailing the WP box car were lettered for the Union Pacific and Missouri Pacific. ©C Hunt photo

ATSF 621056 in Bethlehem PA, October 12, 2007 -photo by Richard Leonhardt

ATSF 621056 in Bethlehem PA, October 12, 2007–Photo by Richard Leonhardt.  Many ATSF cars similar to this one delivered beer to the Budweiser Distributor in Roswell in the early 1990s, often in cuts of  3 or 4 cars.

For more Roswell action, also see my February 15, 2014 post entitled, “How about a Cold One?”

For a modern illustration of beer traffic on rails, enjoy this video on a BNSF beer train near Golden, CO November 16, 2012.


Hope you enjoyed this series.  Brewers and railroads have had an important relationship for a long time.  Think about that the next time you “pop a top.”

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” — Benjamin Franklin, Part I

Per some, what Franklin actually wrote was–

“Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”  

I like that one too.  Kind of the same message either way.

Per the Beer Institute, there are a lot of folks out there trying to give us more “proof.”  There are almost 3,000 brewers in the United States.  About 200 million barrels of the stuff was produced last year or about 19 gallons per American.  That’s a lot of beer.  When consumed correctly, that’s a good thing–it makes a lot of jobs (including rail-related jobs) and brings us pleasure.  Also per the beer Institute, all 50 states produce it.


Beer production in the US

This two part series will discuss—

1.    rail involvement in the production of beer, and

2.    how beer is (and was) shipped, particularly in the 1990s, the era of my layout—ATSF in Roswell in 90s.

As legends go, Colorado miners would throw parties in the 1800s called “banquets” stocked with Coors. Accordingly, banquet beer became part of Coors’ name.

A great deal of beer used to be shipped by rail.  Coors, one of my favorite quaffing beers, still ships some beer by rail.  (See my post of February 9, 2014 concerning the Coors distributor in Roswell.)  I like the thought of drinking “rail-hauled” beer.  I also enjoy non-rail hauled beer, but there’s something special about knowing my beer traversed America rolling through wheatfields and sunsets (not too many sunsets though).  I know…that’s weird–sorry.

(Think that’s weird?  I also like manual push reel mowers. Great States makes some good ones–click here to check mine out.  I love the cut of a reel–versus rotary–and the fact no gas is needed!  Where did that come from?  Don’t know…OK, back to beer and a slightly less weird discussion.)

From a rail standpoint, brewers pretty much fall into three categories—

1)    receive raw materials by rail, ship out by rail (box car, tank car or container)

2)    receive raw materials by rail

3)    make limited use of rail or uses transload facilities (offsite)

I cited Coors as a representative of the first category.  Corona also ships by rail in box cars and containers (often hauled on trains).  Many brewers fall into the second category—two of my personal favorites are Shiner in Texas and Yeungling in Pennsylvania.  The last category is probably the majority since many breweries are too small to take advantages of the lower costs involved in rail shipments.  They may still use rail indirectly in that their raw materials may have been transloaded from rail cars before delivery to the brewery.

Category I–

Up until the late 1990s or so, a great deal of finished beer was shipped by rail.  A craze for “fresh” beer led to a drop off in beer shipments.  Shaving a few days off delivery time was deemed worth the trouble of consuming more fuel (trucks) and hiring drivers.  (It seemed like a gimmick to me although freshness is important for some beer varieties.)

In the early 1990s, Roswell had three distributors, all of which received beer by rail. (See post of February 15, 2014.)


Roswell Budweiser distributor, 1993. Note Northern Pacific box car. I did a post on it February 20, 2014.


Load of Miller beer at the Roswell distributor in the early 1990s.

Beer still moves by rail, but less in box cars and more in containers.  Corona ships beer into the US by both box car and container. Many other foreign brewers ship by rail via containers.    Instead of the traditional box car delivered to siding at the beer distributor, nowadays, beer (and many other products) is often handled through a transload facility.


Siding at a Grand Logistics Corporation facility.


Corona Beer off the rails and ready to be loaded on trucks for final distribution.


Category II

Many brewers take advantage of rail to bring in materials.


Ingredients (barley) from the Northwest coming into the Shiner Brewery in 2011 in Shiner Texas. ©C Hunt photo


Yuengling brewery in Pottsville, PA. Note green dots which show covered hoppers bringing in ingredients, 2014.


Category III–

Many brewers receive ingredients by truck that have been transloaded by rail.

Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, CA on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad provides a great example.




Barley being transloaded by auger from covered hopper to truck for delivery to the Lagunitas Brewing Company in February 2014.

A great video is posted here.  It shows the barley being unloaded, gates on the hopper being opened, car being moved manually and auger being positioned.

Hope you enjoyed this post on the involvement of railroads in the production of beer.  Part II will focus on the “beer caddies” used to get the beer from the brewery to the distributor, especially in the 1990s.

Photo of the week – GP-30s cruising through Roswell


Couple of GP-30s near on the outskirts of Roswell, 1992. ©C Hunt photo

A little action on a pleasant summer morning on 1992.  Looks like a little rain has been falling since everything is so green!

Unit #2770 looks a lot fresher than Unit # 2703.

Almost 1,000 GP-30s were produced from 1961 to 1963.  They have always been a favorite for me with their very distinctive curved cab roofs.  Many were rebuilt, but they are pretty rare today.


Layout progress report #2



North of Roswell looking north up the ATSF main in the direction of Portales, 1992

Following up on the track plan I posted February 16, here is a progress report on the layout.  I have gone slowly to revise and try to perfect the actual track configuration.  Now that I am largely satisfied with the proposed track plan, I have now installed phase I of the bench work.  Phase I covers North Roswell and Downtown.  Phase II, to be constructed in the future, covers South Roswell (dairy feed operations and Coors distributorship).

Here are three views of my emerging HO version.


Phase I of benchwork, this is looking to the north towards downtown Roswell.


Around the corner in downtown area, north Roswell (direction of Portales and Clovis) is to the left of the photo.  Box car sits at the approximate location of the Budweiser distributor.


Looking south coming into Roswell from Portales direction. Note 60′ boxcar to give perspective.

Below is a map from yesterday’s post to give the big picture.  Only the area around Roswell will be modelled, but it is important to conceptualize your layout within a larger world to give purpose to your operations.


More in the future as the track laying progresses.

Roadtrip to 1967? … or taking the Santa Fe to see Wilbur Wood-Could it get any better?

Say you are a kid in Roswell in 1967 and a devout Chicago White Sox fan.  You have heard about this kid the White Sox have traded for named Wilbur Wood.


Wilbur Wood resplendent his late 1960s White Sox uniform.

You really want to see him pitch.  Just sitting in your dark bedroom listening to Bob Elson and Red Rush broadcast the games on WMAQ is not quite enough–especially when there’s a lot of static.  You want to see a game and Wood pitch in person.  How can the Santa Fe help?


ATSF M160-671118 in Clovis, NM Nov 18 1967. This is likely the engine that would have pulled your train to Clovis.

You take out your trusty ATSF time table and go to plotting.


Spring-Summer 1967 ATSF timetable.


1967 map found in ATSF timetables.

Hmm…”I can catch a train here in Roswell …


Close up of map showing SE New Mexico.

At 8:41 am…


Carlsbad to Clovis schedule


And be in Chicago by 2:00 pm the next day.  Not bad.  Maybe we can catch the game that evening.

Oh…the Kansas City Athletics are coming into town…maybe Blue Moon Odom will pitch…hmmm, they also have that rookie with the funny name…Catfish Hunter.

This is going to be good.

Note:  It was a treat to find this 1967 ATSF timetable.  I hope you enjoyed this road trip into the past!




Johnny Horizon lives on…

On April 9th, I did a post on Johnny Horizon.

Look what I found in my files yesterday morning…

A 1968 or 1969 BLM map of New Mexico, which I picked up in a BLM office about 1990!


1960s map of NM showing public lands in New Mexico. The BLM lands are depicted in the orange-brown color.  Note abundance of public land around Roswell.


Reverse side of map which shares information on New Mexican wildlife.

And lastly, look at the spokesperson!   It’s Johnny Horizon!


BLM spokesperson, Johnny Horizon, on map.   Note the nice pledge and the use of the short-lived Department of the Interior seal. (used 1968-69 only)

A nice map, even if it is almost 50 year old.  Johnny “Ho” is still on the job in a few corners of America.

A different kind of evolution — or — a different kind of California visitor

I recently ran a post of a red visitor from California to Roswell in the early 1990s.  In the post I commented on the evolution of the appearance of freight cars over time.  I focussed that post on weathering and graffiti.  There is a different kind of evolution concerning the ownership of cars. In the 1980s, the Stockton Terminal and Eastern (STE) Railroad acquired a number of box cars from the Southern Pacific and Cotton Belt Railroads.


Stockton Terminal and Eastern box car #694787 in the early 1990s

The STE patched over the Southern Pacific billboard lettering and just changed the reporting marks.

A similar car can be seen in HO on B. Smith’s LCN RR.


This car started out as a Cotton Belt RR Athearn PC&F 50′ box with 14′ door.  It was just a matter of painting out the COTTON BELT and the reporting marks with boxcar red paint, and then applying the decals, which were individual letters (Microscale 4″, 7″, and 8″ Stencil Lettering  for Patches & Leasers #2, white)–a pain to get lined up correctly. Then the NEW date was changed as well as the insertion of a more recent re-weigh date.  The car was then went over with a very light application of rust powder to make everything blend together.  The brown color of the car was lightened mostly by the wash of roof brown.  SP and SSW had hundreds of these 50′ cars with 14′ doors both in 70-ton and 100-ton versions (only visual difference being 33″ wheels vs 36″ wheels).  In 1990, STE had 239 cars from SSW and 169 from SP.  STE kept the same road numbers, just changed the reporting marks.

Out on the real rails. changes in reporting marks are very common now days and an important part of the rail scene.  Here are a few examples captured on film in recent years–


Railcar Custom Leasing, LLC #169032 (former Chicago and Northwestern) in Fort Stockton, Texas 2010 bringing in Frac sand.


CSXT #228248 (former Chessie System RR) in Fort Stockton, Texas in 2010. Sometimes the new reporting marks stem from mergers. Chessie System RR merged into the CSX RR in 1980. ©B Smith photo


Infinity Rail #55638 in Gainesville, Texas in 2013 (former NAHX).   Sometimes patch jobs are done so well that they are not obvious. photo ©D Hunt photo

Embracing this form of evolution (changes in ownership)–along with weathering and graffiti–is another means of increasing the realism of your layout.


Photo of the week — Who needs decals?


WP 66033 in Pocatello, ID in May of 1992 (ex-UP) –  ©Dave Krumenacker Photo

Modellers would typically be ashamed of running a car on our layout like this, but the Western Pacific didn’t have any problem with it in 1992 (actually Union Pacific since the WP merged into the UP in 1982).

Maybe instead of decals, all we need is a black pudgy-tipped marker!

The Sanderson Turn, March 23, 1990 (Part II)

Well how were the enchiladas?  Did Ernesto ask you if you wanted an egg on top?


Nothing like real New Mexican Red (preferably Hatch) Stacked Enchiladas

All right…Let’s finish up this run.  Matt is getting antsy.  His son has a little league game tonight.  We still have the scoria, beer and grocery movements.


Before proceeding further, the empty beer car is cut off.


Now the train couples into the two scoria loads. The scoria loading track will only hold four cars and still function as a run around track, so today we will have to shove the out bound train onto the main and use the passing track plus the scoria track as a run around.


But first we have to move the two empty hoppers from the main to the scoria empties track.


Here the two empty scoria cars are being spotted on the scoria empties track. The crew has to be careful not to run the cars off the end of the spur. Cars left on this track must also have hand brakes set as there is an incline that allows the cars to be rolled to the loading point. Most of the cars for scoria loading are the larger 100 ton open hoppers but we still see some of the smaller ones like this LCN 70-ton car.


With the scoria empties behind the derail, the train backs onto the main track, then proceeds back to town.


The empty beer car is picked up. You may wonder why the crew didn’t just leave the car coupled to the engine when spotting the empty scoria cars. The problem was the road crossing. The conductor would have had to walk to this end of the train to get across the train across the road crossing, and as we all know, conductors don’t want to walk anymore than they have to.


The out bound cars are left on the main track, and the engine shoves the beer cars and grocery box toward their siding.


The two beer cars on todays train are finally spotted.


As is the grocery box. All the customers are happy now and the train crew can get ready to get out of town.


The conductor has the engine and empty beer car headed down the passing track and is “lining behind”. That is, this switch must be left lined for the main track when the crew is finished switching Sanderson.


Across the road crossing and onto the scoria loading track.


Easy does it down these side tracks, the track isn’t always in the best of shape.


Out on the main and coupled into the rest of the outbound cars. Just an air test and it’s homeward bound.


Heading for home.

Hope you enjoyed this run (and the enchiladas!).

Again, this was a very detailed description of the run, but it was detailed by design to help reveal a lot of the finer nuances of operations.  Layouts do not have to be big to offer interesting operating sessions.  If you slow down and think about what is in these freight cars, how that affects how you handle and spot them, performing air tests, what is the optimal spot for the brakeman to disembark, give him (or her) time to connect brake hoses, etc., your sessions will be more realistic and rewarding.


The Sanderson Turn, March 23, 1990 (Part I)

The LCN has invited us back to accompany a run down to Sanderson.  It is a brilliant 75 degree day.  The H.W. Green grocer distributor, Budweiser Distributor, scoria loader and Lazy W Ranch Operation all need service.  It promises to be busy but easily manageable run.

(Note: this series is detailed, but an excellent overview of prototypical operations.  All too often, modellers just race around dumping and picking up cars without slowing down and really emulating prototype operations–thinking about dropping off the brakeman, walking to open turnouts, attaching brake lines, opening derails, etc.  If you really think about what is involved in operations, you won’t need a such big, maintenance intensive layout to have rewarding operating sessions.)

Here we go…(The captions will explain what is going on.)


The Sanderson Turn has arrived in Sanderson with two loads of beer, an insulated box for the grocery distributor, and two empty open top hoppers for scoria loading, being cut off on the main here.


The beer and grocery cars are pulled further down the main. Two loads of scoria on the right await being picked up on today’s out bound train.


The beer and grocery cars are cut off.


The light engine proceeds into the beer siding to pull an unloaded beer car.


The empty beer car is out of the siding now and the engine shoves just it through the switch.


With the beer car in tow the engine proceeds down the passing siding…


…and into the Lazy W Ranch track to couple into a tank car of liquid cattle feed. It’s not empty yet and will have to be re-spotted.


Two loads of bagged manure and an empty covered hopper are coupled into next.


Having grabbed everything from the track, the train pulls out of the Lazy W track and puts the cars on the passing track.


The tank car is re-spotted.


The empty covered hopper and two loads of manure are shoved down the passing track. The conductor flags the road crossing.

Well there are some additional movements to perform here in Sanderson on this beautiful afternoon (scoria, beer and groceries), but they’ll come after lunch.

Hope you brought some lunch. If not, Jiménez Cafe just across the tracks serves some pretty good enchiladas.  See you after lunch…(Part II)