Milk Industry- Kansas
The underlying factor in the milk transport on railroads is clearly distance
In the New York City milk market there was a huge volume, much of it coming
from upstate New York. This meant hauls as long as 300 miles in some cases. The
milk was collected from farmers and then processed at "creameries" from where
it was shipped in carload lots. One of the more interesting hauls was from
the PRR Elmira branch in Northern PA to a dairy company in Brooklyn. The milk
tank car went through the tunnuls under the Hudson and through PA station, etc.
There was some carload traffic into Chicago from Wiconsin, etc.
In the midwest and other areas the dairy farms were apparently in the suburbs
or a short distance from the large cities. Therefore it was practical to ship
milk cans in baggage cars without cooling and insulation for the milk.
All this was dicussed in the previously mentioned RMC articles.
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 (:-).
(writing from his other home in northwest Iowa!)
I have posted a picture of the Nodaway Iowa depot in 1918. In a
folder named Midwest in the photo section. And I hope that any other
members with pictures from the area would post some of their
pictures of this area. Doc, how about Ida Grove on your bicycle.
This depot was on the CB&Q mainline which even then was double
Note the milk cans on the east end of the depot. These would be
picked up by the local passenger train and put into baggage cars. It
would be into the 30's before trucks would be able to take over this
route and the station in Nodaway would be moved to another location
creameries in either direction from this location. Fairmont and
Harding in Omaha and Hurd's in Council Bluffs, next to the CB&Q
fright house. East bound were Farmers COOP in Corning 10 miles away
and then SWIFT Co. and Armour in Creston, 40 miles away. All of
these towns had major cold storage plants as well, for processed
dairy products. The cold storage plant at Malvern could store a
million and a half of processed chicken and about another million
pounds of butter.
There were some billboard reefers painted for some of the larger
creameries and of the cold storage facilities, Omaha Cold Storage
is one. And there are decals avalaible for a number of these
facilities. Art Griffin and Clover House both have pretty good
On the Santa Fe road, milk/cream was being shipped in baggage cars
from various stations all across Kansas as late as the early 1960's.
A couple of co-workers have also recounted stories of spillage of
I grew up on Central Iowa in the 40's and 50's and the
Black Angus and Herefords were prime beef, the best in
the land, they were shipped to Chicago to the packing
houses for the city market.
As for cream I never saw a milk or cream truck, we
loaded the cream cans in the old 39 Chevy on Saturday
and went to town. Judging from all the neighbors also
doing this, I'm sure we didn't have milk or cream pick
Its interesting how things are different in different
parts of the country.
--- Denny Anspach <danspach@...> wrote:
I believe that the geographic differences in milk
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toggle quoted messageShow quoted text
----- Original Message -----
From: "Denny Anspach" <danspach@...>
As a child in the '30s and '40s I visited my dear grandparents, aunts andI'm amazed, Denny. In the 1830's and 1840's, Iowa wasn't even called Iowa .