Re: Shipping Rose Stock By Rail

LOUIS WHITELEY <octoraro1@...>

There was a large rose business in Southern Chester County, PA along the
Octoraro Branch.  One of the leading growers (they say THE leading grower) was
Dingee & Conard in West Grove.  Another ad reads "West Grove, the Home of the
Roses".  The Arcadia post card book "Around Avondale and West Grove" states: 
"In 1925, Robert Pyle and his son, Robert, bought the nursery and renamed it
Conard-Pyle.  He registered Star Roses as the trademark for his roses and they
are still highly sought after in the nursery business today.  Conard-Pyle's
retail business closed in 1978, but the wholesale business is still growing

That stretch along US 1 and the Octoraro Branch including Kennett Square,
Toughkenamon, West Grove and West Grove is also known for mushroom growing. 
Another Arcadia book, "Chester County Mushroom Farming" notes that the industry
developed "about 1885, when William Swayne, a successful florist in Kennett
Square, conceived the idea of growing mushrooms beneath his greenhouse benches".

In the PRRT&HS Philadelphia Chapter's "High Line" issue that focused on the
Octoraro Branch, it states regarding  MD-59/MD-58, the Milk and Express train
that became known as "The Mushroom Train" that "Besides milk from creameries
along the branch, the express traffic consisted of flowers (Toughkenamon was
noted for its carnations, and West Grove was the home of Star Roses), and the
principal express commodity was mushrooms".

I do remember a sign along US 1 advertising a rose company in the early 80s. 
Conard-Pyle is evidently still in business -- there's a website with Star still
a registered trademark.

Lou Whiteley
Lawrenceville, NJ

From: Dave <devans1@...>
To: STMFC@...
Sent: Wed, November 10, 2010 4:42:05 PM
Subject: [STMFC] Re: Shipping Rose Stock By Rail

-- In STMFC@..., Anthony Thompson <thompson@...> wrote:

Bob Chaparro wrote:
I attended a local historical meeting at which the speaker discussed
his family's rose growing business.
This was a very large operation and shipped rose stock all over the
country. He mentioned that they shipped roses in refrigerator cars
from the 1940s through the 1960s.
Does anyone know more details about shipping rose stock in
refrigerator cars?
PFE maintained for many years a significant business in cut
flowers, shipped in express refrigerators, from the west coast to all
other parts of the country. Another case: I recall in my interview
with PFE's former AGM for Car Service, that he had been on a survey
team that went to the Cotton Belt in 1932 when SP obtained control of
that road, to evaluate what services PFE would have to perform on the
SSW. To their surprise, there was virtually no perishable shipping
from anywhere on the Cotton Belt, with only one exception: the roses
shipped from Tyler, Texas, which he said was a significant business.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@...
Publishers of books on railroad history

I suspect when Bob describes Rose "stock", he is referring to actual rose
plants, not cut flowers. My Grandfather (56+ years PRR), was also an avid rose
grower, and after his retirement his primary hobby was evaluating (and
photographing) new rose plants from both Starr Roses and Jackson-Perkins (?) to
see how they grew and produced flowers in the Pittsburgh area. In the 1960's I
recall my grandfather traveling to Southeastern Pennsylvania (somewhere SE of
Lancaster) to meet with the rose companies, and I am pretty sure I recall
driving past at least one of these growers - rose bushes in full bloom for over
a mile along a road - amazing.

I believe this area of PA was one of the major producers of Rose stock in the US
(but I could be completely wrong - I may have just been young and overly
impressionable), and I suspect the shipments from these two producers went all
over the country. There is a slight chance J-P may have been in Ohio, I just can
not recall.

I'll check over on the PRRT&HS site to see if anyone recalls the PRR doing
significant plant/rose stock business out of that area (I think near Gap, PA,
along the PRR main). An interesting cargo, but IIRC plants were shipped dormant
in either the fall/winter/or early spring for spring planting. So no bounty of
colors for this load.

Dave Evans

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