An ice-cooled reefer of the Santa Fe Refrigerator Despatch "Bulk Fruit Express". There is disagreement among historians as to the color of these cars:

white, ivory, light gray, or canary yellow.  This is a "shorty" reefer utilizing the Wockes Patent cooling process, ATSF circa 1894.

(Pullman Neg. 2677, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



The Santa Fe Refrigerator Despatch (reporting mark SFRD) was a railroad refrigerator car line established as a subsidiary of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in 1884 to carry perishable commodities. Though the line started out with a mere 25 ventilated fruit cars and 8 ice-cooled refrigerator cars, by 1910 its roster had swollen to 6,055 total units (compared to the 8,100 units its largest competitor, the Pacific Fruit Express, operated).

As of 1929 the line was carrying some 43 percent of California's citrus crop, most of which traveled aboard its "Green Fruit Express" refrigerator car special. Some 100,000 produce loads were shipped from the fields of Arizona and California to East Coast markets each growing season.


Santa Fe Refrigerator Despatch Roster, 1890–1970:

1890 1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970
496 1,032 6,055 9,899 18,291 14,514 14,514 13,512 10, 288