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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I saw a Railway express caboose on E bay. It brings to mind this question.

Did REA have thier own trians? Was the train made up of REA box cars alone? Did they really have thier own cabeese?

As a kid I don't remember seeing trains with REA rolling stock.
 

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John,
Rea was for mail, they had their own cars. I don't think they had a caboose, that is something Aristo Craft came up with. They was call REA long time ago.
 

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JJ

The REA was formed as a result of the administration of American railroads centrally during the First World War. The railroads saw the benefits and efficiencies of moving express on a consolidated basis so the railroads jointly took ownership of REA after the war. It lasted until the end of railroad express shipments making the red diamond logo familiar at most stations across the US.

REA accepted all express shipments but as near as I can tell, it was almost entirely interline shipments as each railroad handled its own online express.

REA had its own cars but could also use railroad express cars (baggage or reefer or box) if there was a need. They normally scheduled the routings of the cars (called lines) to handle express between two REA shipping points and these normally involved two or more railroads. To my knowledge the REA did not own cabooses nor did they run their own trains but like Pullman, added cars to passenger trains.

REA had a very few offices in Canada for transborder express shipments but they were otherwise not a player here. The Canadian railroads handled their own express traffic as CN and CP went most everywhere nationwide.

Regards ... Doug
 

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Yes I do , and the REA trucks . The boxes of baby chicks , and all the LCL freight , the baggage wagons and etc .
I do not remember ever seeing a REA caboose , for real .
 

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Railway Express Agency served just about every community that had a railroad depot or was close to one in the US. They also had their own distribution warehouses and an extensive fleet of trucks. Many were local delivery types similar to what UPS runs today although of course of a different era. They also had heavier trucks. They had their own distinctive baggage wagons painted green with bright red wheels. I don't know when they began this color scheme or if it was used everywhere.

REA never had its own tracks or trains although it's possible that there could have been "REA scheduled express trains" on common carrier railroads at certain times. They did have some of their own rolling stock. All I remember seeing is 50 foot express reefers, or look-alikes, that rolled on passenger car trucks to allow operation in high speed passenger or mail trains.

Wells Fargo had express service also but wasn't as large as REA at least after the stagecoach era. I've never studied the timeline for Wells Fargo Express so I don't know when they quit service.
 

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Here's a quick back ground on (American) Railway Express Agency from Wikipedia. No way to prove it, but it is curious that the Adams Express Company was a lago with red background with white lettering. While Wells, Fargo & Co. was red background with yellow lettering.

Railway Express Agency (REA) - Wikipedia.

[url="
 

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Private, no locos or cabs, the dead giveaway were the reporting marks, REAX for cars and REAZ for trailers/containers/vans.
 

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One more thought to add to the thread. If you take a look at consists in the 20’s 30’s and 40’s you will see head end cars listed as RPOs (Railway Post Office), Mail and Express (M&E) and Baggage. RPOs were either full RPO cars or had a mail “apartment” for enroute sorting with the rest of the car being used for mail storage. Baggage cars were typically for baggage only and may had had facilities in the car for a baggage attendant. M&E cars could carry sealed mail pouches as well as Express shipments, typically REA. These cars are referred to as head end cars given their normal placement in the front of the train. The name trains of the 20’s and 30’s typically had few head end cars, but second class trains normally could carry several. Indeed, many railroads operated consists between major cities that were either all mail and express or carried one or two passenger revenue cars. Any of these trains could have carried REA lettered cars. During holiday seasons these trains could operate in multiple sections to accommodate the extra volume. Mail and express business was the only revenue that kept many passenger trains solvent in the late 40s and 50s and as the USPS cancelled mail contracts in favor of trucks, many local passenger trains were discontinued.

Mike
 

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I remember REA well! Their fleet of trucks was a common as UPS or FedEx is today in the community where I grew up. I also remember the train store called Railway Express Agency in Milwaukee--a beautiful store and specializing in Large Scale. That is where I bought my first LGB Mogul when they were introduced. Hand-carried that puppy all the way back to Honolulu, which is where I lived at the time.
 

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Posted By Allan W. Miller on 08/12/2008 5:06 AM

I remember REA well! Their fleet of trucks was a common as UPS or FedEx is today in the community where I grew up. I also remember the train store called Railway Express Agency in Milwaukee--a beautiful store and specializing in Large Scale. That is where I bought my first LGB Mogul when they were introduced. Hand-carried that puppy all the way back to Honolulu, which is where I lived at the time.


Sounds like that would have been quite the store to visit.  Too bad there are so few LS stores remaining. 
 

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I remember the REA trucks in my hometown of Sidney Ne. the drivers name was Frank, he was a short, cigar smoking, suspender wearing fellow. He delivered my first pool table to me when I was about 11 yrs. old. I was told although i never had the luxury of going and seeing. that he had a heck of a Lionel i believe train set in his house, which ran from room to room through walls. Don't know what ever happned to him or his trains but i do know there is a collector there named Donnie, who has one of the largest collections, and setups of Lionel in the State. Used to work for a food and sundries supplier for years but now retired. :cool:/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/wow.gif The Regal
 

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At the small town depots that I worked at, I was the freight agent, ticket agent, Railway Express agent, and Western Union agent; four accounts and most of them never had much cash in them. When making change, it was a case of borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.

WU was a PITA; you got 10 percent of what cash you took in, and most telegrams were sent collect and received prepaid; ergo no cash and 10 percent of zero is not much cash.

Railway Express was 10 percent of inbound and outbound, whether collect or prepaid; a much better deal. The express shipments were handled by the baggage car. Our branch line had an up one day and back the next so there was little express there; when there was something, it would be in the LCL (less than carload lot) car.

Yes, I remember Railway Express.

Art
 

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Art,
As a WU agent did you work nights?? If so did you do "night letters"?? My Dad use to send them when the order had to get there over night.. 10 cents a word I believe..
BulletBob
PS I remember the Railway Express..
 

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Sounds like that would have been quite the store to visit. Too bad there are so few LS stores remaining.
-------------------------------------------------

It was indeed a gorgeous store! About the only one better, in my experience, was Garden Railway Company (another fallen flag) in Cincinnati. I've never been in another train store quite like that one--downright beautiful and unlike any other train store I've ever visited.
 

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I was working at Mack Trucks World Headquarters in Allentown, PA when Railway Express went bankrupt. They had a big fleet of Mack F model semi tractors, and by then most of their business was highway oriented. It was either 1975 or 1976 when we got the news. The man who sat behind me was their fleet service engineer for Mack products. I remember that he looked like a close realtive had died when he got the news of the bankruptcy.

He landed on his feet, but Railway express never recovered. I don't think they were able to compete against UPS.

I still have several HO models of REA express refers and box cars, and, possibly, one baggage car.

When I first came to Roanoke to work for N&W, the Railway Express LCL freight building was still standing. I believe the railroad tore it down to make room for some more sidings.

The company's memory still lives on through our model trains and trucks, but the corporate entity vanished over 30 years ago.

Yours,
David Meashey
 

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Bullet Bob, the small stations were only open during the day, 6 days a week, so night letters were really not an option. I was never on the Western Union payroll; I was led to believe that the terrible 'rate of pay' was negotiated by the ORT (Order of Railroad Telegraphers) and WU.

At Summit, near Chicago, there was a quite large Spanish community. Copying a telegram in Spanish (I had 3 years of Latin but no Spanish at that time) was really more like copying code, except the spacing was sure not uniform.

Art
 

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I worked at UPS back in 1968 and REA was still going strong. At that time UPS was still expanding in the U.S. and did not offer service everywhere in the U.S.
Years later I was working elsewhere and a guy working for me mentioned he had worked at REA. I mentioned I had worked at UPS. He said, "You guys put us out of business".
While some of what he said might be true. I think it was more of changing of the times and the way things were done.
 

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Posted By Doug Tome on 08/16/2008 11:28 AM
I worked at UPS back in 1968 and REA was still going strong. At that time UPS was still expanding in the U.S. and did not offer service everywhere in the U.S.
Years later I was working elsewhere and a guy working for me mentioned he had worked at REA. I mentioned I had worked at UPS. He said, "You guys put us out of business".
While some of what he said might be true. I think it was more of changing of the times and the way things were done.




I think you are absolutely right. REA went more the traditional trucking company route after their lcl rail business diminished. Deregulation put the nails in the coffin when it effectively dismantled a very efficient and dependable trucking industry. The opening left was the package delivery which had little appeal to deregulated independent truckers struggling just to make gas money. Unfortunately for REA they didn't seize the opportunity but UPS did.

In 1954-5 UPS was little more than a contract carrier for H.C.Capwell Co. in Oakland. They used to shuttle between Capwell's various warehouses of which they had several in the bay area. My first job out of high school was for Capwell's where I had intended to work as I continued schooling. The school had to wait however as I enlisted in the USAF.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hey Richard
What years were you in the AIR FOREST. (That is what my nephew use to call the Air Force)
 

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Posted By John J on 08/16/2008 2:07 PM
Hey Richard
What years were you in the AIR FOREST. (That is what my nephew use to call the Air Force)




John,

1956-57. Just in for flying training. Then to reserves. Lackland, Hondo and Bryan. All in Texas. It became the Air Farce with me in it. ;) /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/tongue2.gif
 
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