Re: Sheetrock by Rail

Douglas Harding

I just toured the US Gypsum plant in Fort Dodge, Iowa with the CNW
Historical Society in March. We learned that Sheetrock is a trademark name,
like Kleenex or Frigidaire. That US Gypsum has been making it since 1916 and
further that US Gypsum began mining the gypsum rock in the Fort Dodge area
in the 1880/90's. All product was shipped by rail. Someone mentioned the
developments along the CGW, CNW and IC in the Chicago area. All three of
those railroads serve Fort Dodge, home of some of the largest gypsum
deposits in the country. Prior to the meat industry, gypsum made Fort Dodge
and industrial center. It was also the birthplace of the "Cardiff giant"
(Google that if do don't know the story). Today US Gypsum, National Gypsum
and one or two others are still active in Fort Dodge making wallboard and
related products.

Early products were shipped in boxcars. Later flats were converted with low
bulkheads for shipping Sheetrock. Also gyp rock was shipped out in gons, as
gyp rock was used in several other industry applications. Fort Dodge had
some of the purest deposits to be found. The early rock was mined
underground using small mining railroads. Today it is all stripped mined and
hauled in truck. But the plants still have rail service if needed.

Doug Harding
Iowa Central Railroad

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