This is a little odd

I was in Idaho last weekend to do some Boomershoot stuff. No Boomershoot this year but there were various maintenance items to be taken care of.

I spent some time in Orofino and as I was driving into town I noticed a long line of stationary railroad tanker cars. I did my business in town and then stopped to look at the cars on my way out.


With the huge drop in demand for oil products, I suspected they were full of oil because the oil producers were running out of storage space. I’m nearly certain that hypothesis was incorrect. As near as I could tell the tanks were empty. The cars had been stationary for a while too. Notice the rust on the wheel:


According to the odometer on my vehicle the line of cars was about 1.1 miles long. And part of that line was double wide.

A couple days later I drove through Lenore. There I found another line of tanker cars.

This gave me visions of Atlas Shrugged as I thought of the economy grinding to a halt.


10 thoughts on “This is a little odd

    • Yup. Or an hour or two on a really damp day. I used to unload boxcars and that much rust after a rain was kind of normal.

  1. Full oil cars can’t be stored on public tracks, they have to be stored privately with adequate security and fire protection.

  2. It’s really astonishing how much value in empty railcars are just laying idle at any time.

  3. They’ve been stockpiling tanker cars here in Palouse too, but they’re all labeled, “Liquified Petrolium Gas”. I’d never seen so many of them here. Then I spotted more of them in adjacent towns where they have the side spurs.

  4. Just speculation on my part. A relative of mine spent the last two years building pipelines from Canada and north Dakota. Which replaced the need for tank cars. At which point their just being spurred for storage. Once again, no real intel. just my .02.

    • Far fewer moving parts for a pipeline than a train of cars full of inflammable* materials. Keystone pipeline is a couple of orders of magnitude safer than the trains necessary to move the oil before. All you need is an airplane flying above the pipeline looking for anomalies.

      I’m not going to cave to the 40-year process of caving to idiots and calling it “flammable”. A “flamm ” is a type of drum stroke. I suppose the sign would be “flammable”, but that’s not what they think they are saying.

  5. I had lunch with a vendor a few years ago, at a different job. He uses total rail car shipments as a leading economic indicator. I believe there is a fair amount of truth to this. Certainly it correlates pretty well over history.

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