Poultry car photo

Doug Polinder

I found the attached photo of a poultry car in a book that the Lynden Tribune published in 1976 for the bicentennial celebration in my hometown of Lynden WA.  I believe the original photo either belongs to the Tribune or is in the collection of the author, Dorothy Kort.

I find the presence of this traffic surprising.  Lynden is at the end of a branchline off a branchline, the Milwaukee's line between Bellingham WA (which the MILW reached by ferry until 1956) and Sumas, on the Canadian border and an interchange point with the CP.  Lynden is almost as far as you can get in the contiguous 48 from New York (Blaine WA--GN, Moclips WA--NP, Coos Bay OR--SP, and Eureka CA--NWP among others are slightly more distant), so I am not sure how many chickens would survive a 3000-mile trip, especially if it was winter in Montana and North Dakota.  And chickens transported 3,000 miles are more expensive than chickens traveling from Pennsylvania or Arkansas.  

More remarkable to me is poultry production in the Pacific Northwest.  Washington even after the damming of the Coiumbia does not have a grain crop.  Then as now corn is grown locally, to be sure, but mainly as silage for the dairy industry.  My father had a feed mill on the GN at Ferndale, a few miles from Lynden.  All grain--wheat, corn, barley, soybeans, milo, oats--came from the Plains or the Midwest, often in CB&Q 40-foot boxcars.  (Wheat grown in the Palouse of Eastern WA is durum for pasta, not animal feed.)  So poultry must have been a small industry fed with local corn or with grain railed in from several states east.  By slightly after Our Era all commercial production of poultry in the area had ceased.

Either these are chickens of unimpeachable reputation, or the Milwaukee and (probably) the NYC had a very favorable tariff.

Doug Polinder 
Poquoson VA

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