A question about waybills, switch lists and other paperwork.

nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Wed Jan 12 08:38:47 EST 2005

Mr. Stewart,
    There is no simple and quick way to give a meaningful answer to your question.  However, I will try to give you an abbreviated, (very abbreviated) overview.  Waybills were done radically different in the '50's than currently.  I gather from you question that you are interested in the '50's.  So I'll start there.  First, from the agency point of view, consider that there were two basic kinds of waybills, interline and local.  Inbound waybills were used to create a document called a freight bill.    Waybills are created from a bill of lading received from the customer and communicated to the local agent agent where the shipment originated.  That agent typed the waybill in either three or five copies depending on the destination.  Waybills could be prepaid at the origin or collect at the destination.  An interline bill covered shipments between points on two or more railroads.  Local waybills covered movements destined to points on the originating line.  A copy of the waybill was forwarded with the conductor of the train picking up the car.  Other copies were sent to the Accounting Department and others were kept in the agency files.  The waybill contained origin and destination information, route, car identification, tariff reference, special instructions and billing amounts.  A copy of the waybill was forwarded with the car and when it reached its destination, the agent at that end would know where it should go, how to bill it to the destination customer if necessary.  Not all locations had a local agent.  For instance, on the Durham line, in the 70's when I was a traveling auditor, open agencies were at Brookneal, South Boston, Roxboro and Durham.  Other locations were covered by the agent in one of these locations.  For example, customers at or near Rustburg were handled by the agency at Brookneal.
Switch lists were used in yards and at the larger locations where a local or yard crew might make numerous pick-ups and deliveries (pulls and placements).
Flag stops were a product of passenger operations.  In those cases, the local agent hung a green and white flag by day and kerosene lamps by night.  Passenger engineers would know to be on the lookout at these stations.  They were noted in the timetables and if there were no agents on duty, the passenger either had a ticket or paid a cash fare to the conductor.
What I have given you here is a very, very brief and greatly simplified overview of railroad revenue procedures.  There are many more aspects the the process.  If you would like to know more, ( I would be remiss if I didn't warn you...this can be very dry) contact me off of the mailing list.  It's much to involved to use this space.  Contact gdcwcc at cox.net.
        Regards,  Don Corbin                
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org 
  To: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org 
  Sent: Sunday, January 09, 2005 11:52 PM
  Subject: A question about waybills, switch lists and other paperwork.

  I am curious about the daily business of running a railroad.  I hope that the members of the mailing list will shed some light on the use of waybills, switch lists and other paperwork need to move freight.

  In the 1950s local freight No 71 left Lynchburg traveling south to Durham, a distance of 117.11 miles.  According to the time tables after the wye at Durmid outside of Lynchburg there were 18 stations before the wye at Durham, most of them flag stops.  In addition there were a number of industrial sidings that also required servicing.  Train 71 left the Island Yard on a trip that was scheduled to take about 8 hours.  How were waybills, switch lists and other paperwork handled in the setting out and picking up of cars along this route?

  C E Stewart
  Bahama, NC


  NW-Mailing-List at nwhs.org
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