Jim, Fort Dodge to Peoria is about 350 miles. Your suggestion of lumber
loads on NP flats to Iowa is indeed a good one. Plus Iowa had a number of
farm implement factories in the State, so flat cars were a needed car.
As to M&StL flatcars, in 1953 the railroad had 347 steel 50' and 53'6"
flatcars, 9% of their entire freight car fleet. These cars can be modeled in
HO with the Chad Boaz flat car and/or the PK2 flatcar. The M&StL served the
Minneapolis-Moline plant in Minnesota, and other communities with farm
implement and heavy equipment manufacture, including John Deere in Des
Moines and Caterpillar and Letoureau in Peoria. Smaller implement
manufacturers could be found in many Iowa towns.
I've been pondering on the loads of grapes Clark mentions. There was a
Western Iowa Grape Growers association based in Council Bluffs, as Iowa as
at one time raised a lot of grapes. Now it is possible the cars were Iowa
grown grapes, but I don't believe Fort Dodge was an area with grape growers.
And why would they be in PFE reefers? So most likely they came from the
Omaha gateway or Council Bluffs on the IC to Fort Dodge, which is an odd