Milk Industry- Kansas


Denny Anspach <danspach@...>
 

I believe that the geographic differences in milk rail transport probably was at least in part influenced the differing natures of the dairy industry in major parts of the country, i.e. milk produced by "dairy farms" vs. milk produced by myriads of individual farmers, each with a few milk cows.

As a child in the '30s and '40s I visited my dear grandparents, aunts and uncles in Ida Grove, Iowa for long periods of time. A prominent industry in that tiny town was the A&P Creamery (this was when the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company was a major player in the midwest grocery business). There were no dairy farms, per se that I recall. However, virtually every single farmer milked a few cows. Some of the milk would be used on behalf of livestock and subsistence (I have drunk more than my share of raw milk and heavy cream!), but the excess was an important source of supplemental income. After the milk was separated (a Delaval cream separator was in every farm kitchen), the excess was placed in cans, which were then set out by the road, commonly, but not always on a small wood platform, where they were picked up by the creamery truck on its daily morning rural rounds. Some would bring their milk into town in horse or tractor-hauled wagon boxes (it would have been a rare farmer who would have owned a truck of any sort in those days).

Now, this creamery could not survive or depend on just on the milk from the farmers in this small county, so a good deal of milk would arrive by train, in this case the C&NW Carroll<--->Sioux City local (a rough remnant of the late great CORN KING LIMITED of pre-war fame).

I spent a lot of time on my bicycle down at the C&NW depot watching the trains (I had retired my horse) . The freights were OK (picking up, setting out, switching grain boxes, stock cars, and tank cars for the oil depots), but the highlight was the passenger, with its 4-6-2, RPO, several baggage and express cars (one apparently through to or from Chicago), and one or two of the short (60'?) coaches. Besides heavy express business (the dwell time "seemed" to be never less than about ten-15 minutes), a good deal of time of unloading filled milk cans, and loading empties. I do not remember whether or not the cans were loaded or unloaded from the creamery truck (the creamery was only a block away), or whether there was some other means of transport.

It would be interesting to me to learn how the railroads charged for this kind of special perishable transport.

BTW, Doug Harding mentioned some model cattle that were "S-gauged size", too large for HO. Well, that surely would have been so in central Iowa. However, they would seem to me to be just right for the famous fat beef cattle produced for market in northwest Iowa (:-).

Denny
(writing from his other home in northwest Iowa!)

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