Sunday, March 18, 2012
Today's Train of Thought- A Different Kind of Polar Express: March 18, 2012
If you stop and think about it, so many of the goods and services that we use in out day-to-day lives have been shipped by rail at some point- if not the finished product, then certainly the raw ingredients. Materiel like coal, wheat, oil, acid, iron ore, ethanol, garbage, salt, auto parts, gas, wind turbine components, steel and even sugar beets or orange juice pulp have been known to move in decdicated unit trains- and that's not even taking the advent of double-stacked container freight into account. Companies like Coors Brewing, Foster Farms, Cargill Salt or Anderson Windows- to name a few- utilize their own switcher locomotives at their plants to help ensure efficient offloading of inbound raw materiel or faster interchange of the finished product thats shipped by rail.
With that in mind, I'm a pretty big fan of Polar beverages- particularly their birch beer. The Worcester, MA based company has been selling flavored soft drinks, water and seltzer throughout the northeast and dates back to 1882.
Today's Train of Thought takes us to central Massachusetts, home of both Polar Beverages and the Providence & Worcester Railroad. And although the P&W has expanded considerably in recent years and runs unit coal, ethanol and aggregate trains, it still has customers to serve in Worcester same as it did nearly 40 years ago when it started up service on former New Haven and Penn Central lines in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Here, railpictures.net contributor D.M. Wenc caught P&W B39-8 #3903 with local freight WX-1 at Worcester, MA on February 11, 2009. One of the customers this freight serves is the Polar beverage company, and the conductor can be seen riding the side of the train a few cars back as the big 4-axle GE gets ready to drop off a cut of tank cars- presumably loaded with corn syrup- for Polar as the sun peeks out from the clouds.