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June 2002 - Page 32

The second half of the Mirandas Bananas structure in use as a railroad passenger service department. Offices are on the left and storerooms are along the right side of the building. If more room was needed a two story or taller building would be used. While the coaches in the photo have already been through the car washer, some spit-and-polish roads cleaned their windows by hand. In this shot the washers are at work while a laundry truck is over by the office, probably with the driver inside the office delivering the bill. The red structures on the platforms are water standpipes, while the electric outlets are in boxes in the platform. Lots of wagons are in evidence delivering supplies to the various types of cars in the yard. Headrest antimacassars, lounge and parlor car supplies, batteries or other items necessary for running a first-class passenger service. passenger services commissary. The facility represents one serving a union station. U nion stations are usually operated by a n association of the railroads using the s tation. While the term Union Station r ecalls facilities such as Chicago Union Station, which had the Pennsylvania, Burlington, Milwaukee and other tenants, or other huge installations, it should also be remembered that there were lots of smaller union stations as well. A smaller one was the Allentown (PA) Union Station of the Reading and the Central Railroad of New Jersey (whose whole yard area only took up about a city block). Only a few miles east was the Bethlehem (PA) Union Sta tion of the Lehigh Valley and the Reading, which was even more compact. The first of the two structures built from Mirandas Bananas represents one for a road using Pullman dining and sleeping car service while the second example would have been used by a road that ran its own dining cars. Building B would have similar features of building A but with much simpler linen storage since it would only store tablecloths and napkins and not bed linens for sleeping cars. The offices for building B would probably be in the terminal building itself or could possibly be shoehorned into s ome corner of building B along with cleaning crew quarters. drain on the railroads by the 1950s. After around 1950 increasing numbers of railroads gave up running passenger trains for this reason. Mail contracts had been made between the Post Office Department and the rail roads almost from their inception, and these brought income to the passenger train accounting sheets. Bagged mail was loaded by postal employees into approved types of cars, generally sealed express-type cars ( baggage cars) and would be opened at the final destination of the train or at the point at which the car would be dropped off. Each of the drop-off points had a post office with facilities for distributing mail to smaller postal facilities in the area. By 1900, the concept of the railway post office in which mail could be sorted en route had been developed and was in operation. Usually mail was brought by wagon or truck to trainside in the coach yard and was loaded on the mail and express tracks. The cars would then be switched into the departing train. These were probably the last type of passenger cars not locked into a particular consist. Of course, there were exceptions and some trains had assigned cars that were kept with their own train even in the coach yards. Wagons, usually with four wheels and a bed that would be level with express car doors would be used to transport the mail sacks to the waiting trains. Sealed mail cars lasted till the end of railroad control of their passenger service, and has been revived by Amtrak in their material handling cars. In some instances there actually was a post office on or adjacent to railroad property. Express is the other type of head end traffic that helped to keep passenger trains economically feasible for so long. At first, small express companies operated in one o r two cities. A company might distrib ute packages within one city or between a selection of several cities such as Atlanta, J acksonville and New Orleans. As the small companies grew they amalgamated and formed larger ones until, during World War One, the Federal Government took over operation of the railroads. At that time the largest of the express companies were merged, but unlike the railroads, redundant offices and facilities were shut down, and accounting was standardized generally following the methods of American Express, the largest of the express companies. This grouping of companies formed the American Railway Express. After WWI it was impossible to break up the company into the various compo nents. It took ten years to finally agree upon the ideas of keeping the company as an industry-wide organization that would be owned by most of the railroads in proportion to their mileage and the amount of express business they generated. The new company formed in 1929 was the Railway Express Agency. One of the services provided by REA was the handling of large trunks that might contain a familys summer clothing. This would be brought by truck from a home to the railhead where the trunk would be loaded into an express car. The trunk would travel by train and finally by truck again to the mountain or seaside resort hotel where the family would find it in their hotel room waiting for them on their arrival. Depending on the distances involved, the trunk would be sent a day to a few days before the vacation trip began. Large valuable items, such as a special piano, were commonly sent by express and in the case of such expensive items, a special express car might be used for the single object. Income from mail and express services eventually offset many of the losses incurred on passenger trains and

Head End Servicing
One of the main factors that kept passenger trains running after about 1950 was income from head end cars: mail and express. In some cases, the top train on a railroad might not have a mail car, but it could well have been the mail contracts for the postal express cars that ran on all of the other trains that paid to keep that fancy streamliner running. It is known that passenger service became an increasing money


JUNE 2002

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