Merry Christmas from Rails West!

loading-a-boxcar-1938

Image courtesy of Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia

Recently, my friend B. Smith shared with us his excellent research on the San Fernando Branch in CA. (There will be another post in future with some additional photos!)  from that post, the below item caught my eye in that in 1972, Christmas trees were still being delivered by rail.

“Encino Team Track averaged 3 cars per month (0 to 11 per month)
   American Jet (salvage wreaked aircraft brought in by rail

Christmas Trees (every December the team track area was leased out as a Christmas tree lot and 4 to 6 carloads of trees were brought in)
     Valley Cycle”

B. Smith and I swapped some e-mails on the topic to try to find some photos with very little luck, but he did find this–

Another Sign Of The Christmas Season Arrives In California

Union Pacific Delivers Christmas Trees from the Pacific Northwest

Omaha, Neb., November 17, 2006 – Christmas trees are again on their way to households in California, and Union Pacific is helping move them. The season’s first rail shipment of fresh Christmas trees arrived Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles on board a UP train from Portland, Ore.

Over the coming days, Union Pacific expects to transport nearly 725,000 Christmas trees to California in more than 1,000 containers or over-the-road trailers. The majority of the containers are bound for Los Angeles; the remaining will ship to Lathrop in Northern California.

Historically, the railroad moved Christmas trees in boxcars that were unloaded at various locations by a wide variety of vendors. In 1988, Union Pacific began moving the trees in intermodal containers and over-the-road trailers. Since then, the railroad has transported more than 9,600 containers and trailers loaded with more than 6.5 million Christmas trees from the Pacific Northwest.

Intermodal shipping involves moving freight by rail and truck without re-packing the shipping container. An example:

  • A container on an over-the-road truck chassis is loaded with Christmas trees at a tree farm.
  • The loaded container is driven by truck to the rail yard in Portland and placed on a railroad flat car.
  • The flat car is moved by train to an intermodal terminal in Los Angeles or Lathrop.
  • The container is removed from the flat car and placed on an over-the-road truck chassis.
  • The container is driven by truck to vendors in the Los Angeles or Lathrop areas.

Pretty neat that some trees may still be moving by rail.

In closing, here’s a few old school pictures of Christmas trees by rail courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Selling Christmas Tress in Charlestown

Christmas trees coming into Boston off the Maine Central, courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection. Chralestown Boston Christmas

Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.  Since this is Rails West, note old Frisco boxcar to the right.

Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Here’s some coming into Boston on flatcars.  Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

If anyone has photos of trees being shipped by rail (especially if newer than those above), please share.

Meanwhile, a very Merry Christmas to all the readers of Rails West!

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