1908 - Idle Engines and Cars

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Mon Jan 28 10:35:56 EST 2008

A bank panic started on Oct 22, 1907 which was quickly eased by the
intervention of prominent men such as J.P. Morgan. While the bank panic was
over relativley quickly (Nov 4, 1907) the aftermath was a general depression
that started around Dec 17, 1907 and lasted into 1909. As a result of the
depression the Pocahontas Coal Field had a significant drop (28%) in
production for the first six months of 1908 as compared to the last six
months of 1907. During the last six months of 1908 the production was still
8% less than the last six months of 1907.

Alex Schust

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From: "NW Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
To: <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2008 3:56 PM
Subject: 1908 - Idle Engines and Cars

> Roanoke Times - January 26, 1908


> Idle Engines and Cars


> For a good many weeks past, side tracks in and near Roanoke have been

> more or less crowded with empty freight cars, which have been idle on

> account of the diminution of the volume of business of the Norfolk &

> Western Railroad. At the machine shops, there is an acre or more of

> locomotives, standing silent and deserted, and many of them are just from

> the manufacturer. These locomotives are standing in the yards of the

> machine shops, exposed to every kind of weather that comes along, and many

> of them are showing rusty places. The picture presented by these great

> machines is by no means cheerful; indeed it is rather doleful. They stand

> there with an appearance of utter dejection. They look as if they are

> yearning to stretch their limbs and rush once more into the activities of

> their natural element.

> But in spite of the silent locomotives and empty cars, there is a

> feeling of renewed energy in the air; there is a spirit of optimism that

> cannot be downed. Everyone is anticipating a turn in the tide, and

> everyone expresses confidence in a return of business prosperity.

> Idle cars and silent engines are not found alone in Roanoke. Figures

> recently prepared by one of the large railroads show that a week ago there

> were 320,000 idle freight cars in the United States and about 8,000

> locomotives, which are laid up because of the falling off in traffic. As

> there 2,200,000 freight cars in the country this would show that 14 per

> cent. of all the cars owned by railroads are stored on sidetracks waiting

> for loads.

> Figuring the value of cars at $1,000 each and of locomotives at $15,000

> each, the statement show that the railroads have $440,000,000 tied up in

> rolling stock for which there is no present use. The great shortage in

> rolling stock last year caused large orders for cars to be placed by

> railroads. As late as last October the reported shortage was 87,000 cars.

> Estimating the average freight train at 40 cars, the 320,000 cars now

> idle would be equivalent to 8,000 trains, for handling of each of which

> four men are ordinarily required, so that it may be estimated that more

> than 30,000 men less are needed than if all of these cars were in service.

> Many men have been laid off - the New York Central, for example, since the

> beginning of this month has laid off enough to make a saving of $250,00 a

> year, in addition to previous cutting down of its force - and many others

> have been placed on short time.


> -----------------------------------


> - Ron Davis, Roger Link





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