Near Avery in Shoshone County, Idaho — The American West (Mountains)
Smooth as Silk
“Highballing” fast freight trains..
…known as “Silks”, sped raw Asian silk from west coast seaports across the United States for processing into finished garments.
The silks had the right-of-way over freight and passenger trains alike. They rushed their multimillion dollar cargo across the continent because raw silk deteriorated quickly, insurance on it as very expensive, and the price of raw silk fluctuated, making even short delays very costly. A less obvious reason for “highballing” the silks was fear that the valuable cargo would be hijacked from slow trains.
In 1928, at the height of the silk trade, $452,000,000 of raw silk was transported across the continent on railroads. With the Great Depression, and increased shipping of silk through the Panama Canal, the “silks” rapidly disappeared. With the onset of World War II and the increasing use of nylon and other synthetics, silk trains were abandoned.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Railroads & Streetcars. A significant historical year for this entry is 1928.
Location. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Avery ID 83802, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Railroad at WAR! (approx. 0.7 miles away); Secluded Falcon (approx. 0.7 miles away); The Toughest Town (approx. 0.7 miles away); "In the Hole" (approx. 0.7 miles away); World Class Workers (approx. 0.7 miles away); Man’s Mark on the Land (approx. 1.1 miles away); Water Does the Work! (approx. 1.1 miles away); A Changing Landscape (approx. 1.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Avery.
More about this marker. On the lower left is a photo with the caption, "An east-bound Silk Train with a Westinghouse “Quill” engine at its head pauses for a portrait just west of Falcon during the spring of 1926." Photograph from Washington State Historical Archives.
On the right is an illustration with the caption, "A modish style that is grace itself, designed to please the well dressed American woman who wears only the best. These thoroughly smart frocks are made of superior quality all silk crepe de chine in bright, pleasing Paris novelty figured patterns and elegant shimmering hues." Sear, Roebuck and company, 1923.
Also see . . . Route of the Hiawatha Rail Trail. (Submitted on August 5, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on August 5, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 626 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on August 5, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.