Monday, 27 August 2012

Less than Carload Freight

The railway was once the only reliable lifeline many towns and villages along this route had to the outside world. Almost everyone and everything went in or out over the rails.

Today, however, many of those communities are now no more than a memory, a name on an out-of-date map, or a station listed in an old schedule, the railway having outlived most of the people, places and industries it once regularly served.

The following document reveals details about a less-than carload shipment made on or about January 05, 1910. The bill of lading covered transportation by railway for eleven bags of food supplies from Scotstown to Milan. Most likely that shipment was carried as head-end traffic in a mixed train.

The distance between the two stations was only ten miles, however, wilderness roads in 1910 were often at best two-rut wagon trails, closed by snow during the winter months and impassible muddy mires in the spring.

Years ago as a youth growing up I heard old people in Milan recounting stories about the Gaelic speaking Scottish settlers having to survive on oatmeal, flour and salt through the winters and into the next harvest season. 

The consignee of record, D. A. Macdonald of Milan, Quebec, was my great-grandfather. The copy of the bill of lading was found in my maternal grandfather’s papers. Those old stories of hardship really did happen.

The Oddblock Station Agent

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