Historical question - shipping wheat by boxcars from western Canada to NY during WWI

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Guy Tombs

New Member
How was wheat shipped by boxcar over a hundred years ago? My grandfather, Guy Tombs, was a senior freight agent for Canadian Northern Railway at the time. Our company is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2021 and I have been reading our archives more closely. Most of the wheat went from New York by vessel to Belgium, where there was a huge relief effort. How was wheat loaded and unloaded in that day? Are there good photos of this?

These are his notes from Feb. 1939, over 20 years after the war's end:

"During the War I agreed to carry 5 million bushels of wheat to New York for the Allies, and the snows fell and the water tanks froze and burst on the barely completed link across Northern Ontario. I had to plead personally with President Alfred Smith for New York Central empty box cars and then coax our people to move them because the deal was not popular. Sir William Mackenzie [head of Canadian Northern] however never faltered. Keen as a razor, it took a World War to stop him."

Many thanks and
Best regards,
Guy M. Tombs

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