Home  

Loading the Baggage Car

When brother or sister leaves for college or when mother and dad go to the seashore they take along their clothes and other personal belongings. Frequently one or more trunks and several smaller pieces of baggage are necessary to carry them. It is for the accommodation of these and other passengers that the railroads provide special cars in their trains to carry trunks and other luggage.
Each year the railroads carry hundreds of thousands of trunks and other hundreds of thousands of pieces of hand luggage for the convenience of their passengers. The baggage car is also used for the transportation of dogs, cats, birds in cages, and other pets accompanying their owners.
In every large railway station there is a baggage room where baggage is received and checked for forwarding by train or for delivery to passengers or their agents. A baggage agent or baggage master is in charge of the handling and storing of baggage. Baggage which is to be forwarded by train is loaded on electrically operated trucks or on trailers drawn by electric trucks and hauled to the proper train for loading. At small stations, baggage and express parcels are loaded on a platform truck and pulled by hand to the baggage car door by the baggage agent, or the station agent, or one of the station assistants. Incoming baggage is handled in the same manner, except that the movement is reversed.
The baggage car is usually located in the train just behind the express and mail cars and ahead of the passenger carrying cars. It has small windows, large doors and lots of storage space. It is in fact the storeroom for the passenger train.
The railroad employee in charge of the car is called the baggageman. In addition to looking after the passengers' baggage, the baggageman sometimes receives and distributes newspapers in bundles. He also receives, sorts and distributes the railroad company's business mail passing between railway officers and agents. Railroad business mail handled in the baggage car does not pass through government post offices.
While the train is speeding along between stations, the baggageman arranges the baggage, mail and newspapers in convenient piles, ready to be put off at the proper stations. The baggageman examines each piece of baggage to see that it is properly wrapped, locked, tagged and addressed. He keeps a record of what he takes on and puts off at each station.
For each piece of baggage received, the baggage agent or his assistant uses two checks, each bearing identical numbers, one of which is attached to the baggage, and the other of which is given to the owner of the baggage as a receipt. The baggage is reclaimed by the owner upon presentation of the duplicate check.
Many years ago baggage could not be checked over two or more railroads. But the railroads worked out a plan whereby a passenger can now check baggage from any city or town in the country to any other city or town reached by a railroad-in fact, to any point provided for in the railway ticket, regardless of the number of railroads the passenger travels over.
For the further convenience of passengers, the railroads have arrangements with local transfer companies in many cities to call at the passenger's home hotel or dormitory for baggage and check it through to any street address at destination.
Passengers are allowed to check 150 pounds of baggage free on each full-fare ticket, or 75 pounds on each half-fare ticket. A charge is made for excess weight. There is no limit to the amount of baggage a passenger may check for shipment, provided charges for excess weight are paid, but the maximum weight allowed for any piece of baggage is 300 pounds, and the maximum length permitted for any piece of baggage is 72 inches. The highest valuation or risk accepted by the railroads on one passenger's baggage is $2,500.
For the convenience of their patrons, the larger railway stations also maintain parcel rooms where hand bags, parcels overcoats, wraps, and other articles may be checked for a charge of 10 cents for each 24 hours or less. In some stations there are metal lockers for the same purpose.


I've Been Working on the Railroad | Contents Page

Home
Do you have any information you'd like to share on this subject? Please email me!
The Catskill Archive website and all contents, unless otherwise specified,
are 1996-2010 Timothy J. Mallery