Wednesday, July 3, 2013

U.S. Testing Company, Inc.

Rollers weighing 275 pounds test the durability of mattresses at US Testing Company in 1947. collection of author

I am starting to realize some critical mass when it comes to research material about the Hoboken Shore Railroad. For several topics, I am now able to cross reference and form a better picture of the facilities, customers and operations of the HBS through photos, real estate reports, financial statements, newspaper articles, books, web pages, maps, etc. This is where it states to get exciting, and I can turn my attention towards how to apply this data and turn it into information to enhance the layout and its operations as well as the overall experience of interacting with the layout. An example is the US Testing Company on Park Street.

I am really happy to find this photo of the inside of one of the industries on the HBS, which shows mattresses being tested at the United States Testing Company, Inc.. Not that I will ever model the interior of this customer (though maybe I could?), but having visual evidence of the activities certainly adds to the understanding of the business. Besides, it might be fun to have a pile of beat up mattresses sitting outside the loading dock ready for garbage collection. The tie between activity, objects shipped, location, building and character of the company will provide a rich experience for operators who other wise would just be dropping a car on the spur. This repositions the activity of the operator from abstract car movement to one with some sort of interest and meaning associated with the movement creating a deeper experience.

Rear of photo. Date stamp is 7/18/47. collection of author
An advertisement from the Lawrence Kansas Journal-World newspaper references the testing of mattresses done by US Testing October 27th 1960 Page Three. (Google News)
U.S.Testing was located at 1415 Park Avenue, Hoboken. It was served by its own spur track and spot just south of the main HBS yard and backed up to the alley tracks running through the middle of the 1400 block.
US Testing had it's own spur located off of the main HBS yard. Map from HBS Real Estate Report 1955 in collection of author.
 There is a nice little crossing of the spur from the second track in across the outside track. The image below from the Sanborn map shows a different track configuration, but I believe the real estate map would be more accurate with regard to track locations.
Sanborn Fire Insurance map from 1945, Hudson County Volume 8, Plate 49. collection of University of Delaware.
At this point, this is how US Testing is translated onto the layout.

A view up 14th Street showing the US Testing building just behind to the right of the Xzit Chemical Company Building with the XZIT-BRICKSEAL sign at parapet level. Photo from Hoboken Historical Museum.
The Hoboken Historical Museum has a handful of testing photos from the late 1970s.
Seal of US Testing Co. (From can of Saffron-A Certified Tint)

A cursory web search turned up some dirt on the company when it tested dirt in the 1980s. From the Hoboken 411 website:
Back in 1991, United States Testing Company pleaded guilty to falsifying tests for the Environmental Protection Agency in the late 80′s. They were tasked with the responsibility of determining whether various Superfund sites across the country contained toxic material. It was discovered that, for the purpose of submitting the tests faster, and with lest cost overhead, USTC took inappropriate “shortcuts” and used faked samples, non-calibrated equipment and other violations of their contract with the EPA. They were fined $100k and were ordered to pay back the nearly $900k they received for the contract.
Their faked tests impacted 171 sites across the country, and had to be eventually re-tested by the EPA.

This all gets me a really good picture of what was happening at US Testing. Now how do I turn all of the information into things that will enhance operator experience...?

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