livestock shipments


Douglas Harding
 

In the past month there has been discussion about livestock shipments via
rail. Today I had an opportunity to visit via telephone with a 90 year old
fellow from Belle Plaine, Iowa who spent his entire life dealing with
livestock and the shipment of livestock, primarily via the railroad, the
CNW. What follows are redacted notes I took during our conversation. Note
especially that his comments and recollections many times confirm what has
been discussed, but at times his comments are different from what I have
said in the past. I plan to update my thoughts about livestock movements
based upon this interview.



Doug Harding

www.iowacentralrr.org





Purebreed breeding stock usually came from the east, ie purebreds came from
Ohio, etc



railroad did the cleaning of stockcars and was responsible for
providing/replacing the bedding. Cleaning of cars at Belle Plaine was often
done elsewhere. The railroad would ship the cars to a “clean out” track.



Bedding was typically sand, with hay added in the winter. The sand was
preferred as it added traction in the cars, especially as the car floors got
slippery with manure. The sand could be wetted in the summer, which enabled
cooling for animals, esp hogs.



prairie grass was the preferred bedding, not straw or alfalfa or other kinds
of hay

straw had too much chaff, wind would blow chaff into the eyes of the animals

prairie grass has no chaff, nor would it cause loose stools



often there was a trailer (car) load of hay in a stock train, probably a
boxcar. The animals would come with their own hay. A stock train might also
have feed in a car for transit travel.



bedding might or might not be cleaned out, depended upon the condition of
bedding. If it was dry it did not need to cleaned out. But if the cattle had
loose bowels or there was lots of blown in snow or rain causing the bedding
to get wet, it would be replaced. This was determined on site, there was no
hard and fast rule. The station man might make determination.



At Belle Plaine they reused same cars, left them on siding, shoved done the
siding if other cars had to be loaded or unloaded. In Belle Plaine it seldom
happened that more than one stock train was there at the same time.



Shipping hogs in winter, they would line the car with rosen like paper, like
cardboard, nailed sheets over every other spacing, bedded pretty deep with
hay, hogs would lay down, nestle in and get out of the wind

sheep and cattle less of a concern as they had hair or wool.

Real concern in winter was the stress weather put on the animals. A car of
cattle sitting on a siding, could be put through lot of stress during a
storm. Wind and snow could cause lots of stress and other problems.



At Belle Plaine the local crew did switching, would pick up cattle put then
on main line for pickup by through train. Typically shipped on Sunday, for
arrival in Chicago on Monday. Sometimes waited till Friday for better prices
on the Chicago market.



cattle arrived in Chicago, Emil would top the market, ie get a better price
than others got.

The trick, you didn’t really feed and water upon arrival, buyer looking to
not buy water, paid better price for thirsty cattle, got more per pound,
knowing they got meat and not water.



commission buyer - usually talk to commission man before leaving town,

but some cattle would not be consigned, upon arrival to Chicago might be
some confusion at the stockyards, ie short handed, or during a big run, they
literally ran out of holding pens, etc. Even strikes.



sometimes cattle shippers would over load system by shipping all at the same
time because commission man was calling everyone to ship during what was
thought to be a low time.

drovers catered to old guys, regular sellers, folks with reputation, those
cattle were bought first, if you were at bottom of pile, ie someone who only
shipped cattle once a year, or only had a few cows to sell, you might not
get price, might not even get them sold.



Warmer months, livestock dead in cars,



Chicago had big horses, ie draft horses at 1800-2000lbs. used to drag carts
about and to drag dead livestock out of the cars.

In those days hogs could weigh over 600lbs. Many farmers would feed them to
500+ lbs. A dead hog that size on it’s side looked just liked a dead steer.

If animals were not sold upon arrival at Chicago, the owner had to pay
yardage, ie pay for pen, feed, etc.



did not have sale barns in early years, Belle Plaine built the sale barn in
1936, Tama’s sale barn was built after that.

Salebarns were for the small guy, no big bunches, the fellow with 2-4 cows
used sale barns

local slaughter houses also did a lot of buying at the local salebarns. IE
plants in Iowa.



At feed and rest station:

Were cattle put back in same cars? Tried too, so you wouldn’t spread
diseases. Disease was a big concern. Would Quarantine disease. Something
called shipping fever, cattle in transit, weakened



got lot of feeder calves from a ranch at Marva, Texas



cattle from south came in the spring

cattle from west came in the fall

had to be careful with cattle from west, especially from high altitude
areas. They could get brisket disease, ie hearts would swell cause other
problems

cattle to Belle Plaine usually from Sand Hills area, Hwy #20, Valentine NEB,



through billing cattle would be loaded back upon the same railroad cars, use
the same bill of freight, through billing, had to be loaded back in within
certain time period, ie less than 24 hours

done in 1946 and earlier. Feeder cattle went to final designation after stop
for water and feed, ie taken off at Tama for feed/rest, buyers would come
and look at cattle, if desired were shipped on to final destination, ie
Belle Plaine because in Belle Plaine buyers wanted the animals. Shippers
could make one additional move on same billing.



Out west if railroad went through a ranch, the ranch often had its own
stockyard and loading chutes right on ranch. Neighboring ranches would use
it as well, was often closer than going to town.



trailer car, extra car not clear full, ie ½ load. Divide with partition and
put cattle one side, horses on other side, to ship full car



ride train caboose to Chicago, playing cards around pot belly stove. In
Chicago some would pick up checks, cash it, and lose all his money playing
cards with the card sharks on the ride back home.



cattle from west ? Of drovers caboose

not always riders with animals, ie feeder cattle

riders went with animals to market, sometimes farmer or feeder would go with
his own cattle, not take a change of trusting someone else to do the
selling. They would ride caboose in, passenger train back



Certain Chicago producers were endorsed by the Farm Bureau

Some buyers or commission men would procure feeder cattle via Farm Bureau.



in New Mexico 40 acres to cow/calf in Iowa 1 acre per cow/calf



exotic breeds were larger cows, created a problem as they needed more
feed/roughage,

1400lb cows more forage, have to travel further to get the same amount of
feed/forage in a day.

bigger cow spends more time at water hole, drinks more water,

out west in dry lands, only got water once a day



[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

Nice interview and excellent material, Doug. Thanks for passing
it on. Just one comment:

railroad did the cleaning of stockcars and was responsible for
providing/replacing the bedding. Cleaning of cars at Belle Plaine
was often done elsewhere. The railroad would ship the cars to a “clean out” track.
Railroad was RESPONSIBLE that it be done, but did not have to do
it themselves if shipper or stock pen operator did it. That's why the
question is on the standard livestock waybill, as to who provided
bedding and placed it in the car. See any livestock waybill.

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


Douglas Harding
 

Tony thanks for the tip re livestock bills and cleaning of cars. My notes
were simply what I heard on the phone. Unfortunately the timing of the call
was such that I had just left a meeting that went long, was on the cell
phone, and pulled over so I could get out the laptop and type as fast as
possible while asking questions off the top of my head. I am depending upon
the modeling community to help fill in a few blanks spots. I have never met
this individual, the call was a three way arrangement set up through a
friend. But now that an relationship is established I hope to speak with him
again.



Doug Harding

www.iowacentralrr.org


ken_olson54022 <kwolson@...>
 

--- In STMFC@yahoogroups.com, "Douglas Harding" <doug.harding@...> wrote:

Tony thanks for the tip re livestock bills and cleaning of cars. My notes
were simply what I heard on the phone. Unfortunately the timing of the call
was such that I had just left a meeting that went long, was on the cell
phone, and pulled over so I could get out the laptop and type as fast as
possible while asking questions off the top of my head. I am depending upon
the modeling community to help fill in a few blanks spots. I have never met
this individual, the call was a three way arrangement set up through a
friend. But now that an relationship is established I hope to speak with him
again.



Doug Harding

www.iowacentralrr.org

Wow....
Talk about going that extra mile.
Your work is much appreciated.

Ken Olson


bnpmodeler
 

Mr. Harding;

This is, without a doubt, the most interesting and knowledgeable account of
any industry that I have read in many a year. Thank you, and please thank
your nonagenarian interviewee for us. This is just fascinating; it's like
stepping into his boots and mucking about with the cows and the pigs...

Thank you so much for sharing this!

Jim Harr

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jim Harr
Stella Scale Models
P.O. Box 121
High Bridge, NJ 08829-0121
908-797-0534
www.stellascalemodels.com


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

On Dec 3, 2010, at 8:19 PM, Douglas Harding wrote:
got lot of feeder calves from a ranch at Marva, Texas
I wonder if this should be Marfa, Texas, a West Texas town about 200 miles east of El Paso. I don't find a town of Marva anywhere.

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


Doug Polinder
 

Doug,

Wonderful interview; thanks for preserving that for us.

Note that the origin of feeder calves to which the gentleman referred is Marfa, Texas, not "Marva."  This is on the Espee just west of Paisano Pass between Alpine and El Paso, and the area is well suited for grazing, in addition to being starkly beautiful.  It is between the southern end of the Rocky Cordillera and the northern reaches of the Chihuahuan Desert and averages probably close to a mile in altitude (Alpine is about 4500 and El Paso is 3750).  Marfa is where "Giant," with Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean, was filmed in 1956.

I have not been able to pin him down on this yet, but I have a friend in San Antonio who states he was present the last time livestock were loaded on the SP in West Texas, near Maxon (population 0, between Alpine and Sanderson), and has been trying to locate his family's pictures of the event.  Although this would have been after the cutoff date of this list, I am curious where livestock might have been loaded in this part of Texas (into steam era stock cars, natch).

Doug Polinder

Grand Rapids MI


Charles Morrill
 

Well Marfa is close, but the big ranch house for "Giant" was built at Valentine about 30 miles further west. The mexican worker village was also filmed in Valentine. More OT -- Valentine had stock pens to load cattle during this list time period.
Charlie

----- Original Message -----
From: "Doug Polinder" <mikado3399@yahoo.com>
To: <STMFC@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Saturday, December 04, 2010 9:19 PM
Subject: [STMFC] re: livestock shipments


Doug,

Wonderful interview; thanks for preserving that for us.

Note that the origin of feeder calves to which the gentleman referred is Marfa, Texas, not "Marva." This is on the Espee just west of Paisano Pass between Alpine and El Paso, and the area is well suited for grazing, in addition to being starkly beautiful. It is between the southern end of the Rocky Cordillera and the northern reaches of the Chihuahuan Desert and averages probably close to a mile in altitude (Alpine is about 4500 and El Paso is 3750). Marfa is where "Giant," with Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean, was filmed in 1956.

I have not been able to pin him down on this yet, but I have a friend in San Antonio who states he was present the last time livestock were loaded on the SP in West Texas, near Maxon (population 0, between Alpine and Sanderson), and has been trying to locate his family's pictures of the event. Although this would have been after the cutoff date of this list, I am curious where livestock might have been loaded in this part of Texas (into steam era stock cars, natch).

Doug Polinder

Grand Rapids MI








------------------------------------

Yahoo! Groups Links


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

Doug Polinder wrote:
Note that the origin of feeder calves to which the gentleman referred is Marfa, Texas, not "Marva." This is on the Espee just west of Paisano Pass between Alpine and El Paso . . .
Ahem. That would be on the T&NO, not SP until after the time span of this list.

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


Douglas Harding
 

Tony it may indeed be Marfa, again I was on a cell phone, and not being from
Texas, did not recognize the name of the town. My notes have been forwarded
to the fellow, he may correct my error. He was speaking of feeder calves
coming up from Texas. We also spoke of the Bell Ranch in New Mexico, which
he also knew, and their shipment of feeder calves on the RI via Tucumcari.



My notes also show the following the comment on Marfa TX:

s&ms cattle from Matthews cattle

pitchfork ranch



But I was not sure I heard him right, so did not include this in my report.



Doug Harding

www.iowacentralrr.org


Thomas Baker
 

-


Another note about feeder cattle: I am not sure what was going on in 1954-55, but the Chicago Great Western sent 150 single-sheathed, radial-roofed box cars to Darby Car Company in Kansas City for rebuilding into cattle cars. I think half were single-decked cars, the other half double-decked. Could be wrong about that, but the interesting point is that this was 1955. One would think that a bit late for rebuilding box cars into cattle cars.

I have heard the cars were intended to move feeder cattle from Texas or Oklahoma up to the Stewarville area for fattening. Could this be correct?

Tom


Douglas Harding
 

Tom, let me speculate: the CGW saw potential loads if they could provide
cars. Their stockcars dated from the teens or 20's and were worn out or
rotting away. The CGW had surplus single sheathed wood boxcars as they
upgraded to steel boxcars. Tax laws made it affordable to convert the
surplus boxcars into needed stockcars.



The CGW was not the only railroad to do this. The GN did it with their USRA
boxcars, which Accurail has produced in HO.



And lots of young cattle was moved from western grass lands (any dry lands
west of the Mississippi) to the feedlots of the Midwest where they were
fattened up on corn. Today we call this "value added" products



Doug Harding

www.iowacentralrr.org


dennyanspach <danspach@...>
 

Doug Harding's report is invaluable, and it surely caused a lot of recall about my own family's experiences with cattle shipping from Ida Grove, IA, on the CNW's Carroll - Onawa-Sioux City line, the route of the Sioux City section of the CORN KING LIMITED.

Doug mentioned cattle shipped from Valentine, NE. These were grass fed cattle purchased for fattening on grain in Iowa before being shipped off to market. My maternal grandfather was an Iowa cattleman, and he traveled often to Valentine to buy cattle to his own account in the teens through the '30s. He dealt with one Valentine ranch owner that he liked a great deal, and the family always thought his visits there were as much social as they were about business.

Drover's cabooses: My father, and most of my uncles had a lot of stories to tell of their trips in CNW cabooses accompanying cattle being shipped to the Chicago Union Stockyards. They would have gone through Belle Plaine. Universally, they hated (hated!) those trips for their discomfort, length, and (notably) for the bad treatment they received from the train crews- a distinct off note that is at odds with usual railroad mythology. As Doug also notes, it seems that most trips were made in ordinary cabooses with some crude accommodation made for "passengers".

Commission Houses: Prior to the reforms brought about by the Grange Acts (1911?), cattle shipped to markets principally Chicago, were subject to the buying whims of the meat packer's agents at the stockyards, which could without penalty underpay for livestock for just about any reason with impunity. The cattle were delivered there in a one way trip, and there was no place else for them to go except into the packing house at whatever terms were offered. This prompted the formation of commission houses, the first and most prominent was the cooperative Corn Belt Meat Producers' Association of Des Moines, founded by my grandfather (above) as President, and Henry Wallace (father of FDR's future Vice President of the same name) as Vice President. On behalf of the members of the association, the association employed agents at the Union stockyards that would negotiate the best prices for arriving cattle shipped by the members. They were paid on some sort of "commission" per animal on the hoof (and probably also by weight), thus the name.

In an elegant oral memoire related to me by an elderly cousin, "Shipping Fat Cattle to Market", he talked about the horse-drawn rack of straw for bedding in the stock car that accompanied the cattle as they were driven the miles down the country roads and through town to the railhead - a story slightly at odds with Doug's narrative.

Denny


Denny S. Anspach MD
Sacramento


Richard Hendrickson
 

On Dec 6, 2010, at 6:05 AM, Douglas Harding wrote:

Tom, let me speculate: the CGW saw potential loads if they could
provide
cars. Their stockcars dated from the teens or 20's and were worn
out or
rotting away. The CGW had surplus single sheathed wood boxcars as they
upgraded to steel boxcars. Tax laws made it affordable to convert the
surplus boxcars into needed stockcars.
A plausible speculation, Doug, with one exception: by the 1950s, the
tax laws no longer made it advantageous to rebuild older cars rather
than buying new ones. However, the practice of replacing oder, worn
out livestock cars with cars converted from obsolete box cars was
almost universal in the railroad industry after World War II, and
widespread even in the 1930s. Hardly any new stock cars were built;
older box cars had ample capacity, both in weight and cubic feet, to
meet the need for stock cars and were easy and economical to
convert. Railroads that followed that practice included the Santa
Fe, Great Northern, Union Pacific, Chicago & Northwestern, Rio
Grande, Rock Island, New York Central, Grand Trunk Western, Western
Pacific, and doubtless a bunch of others that don't come immediately
to mind.

Richard Hendrickson


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

Richard Hendrickson wrote:
A plausible speculation, Doug, with one exception: by the 1950s, the tax laws no longer made it advantageous to rebuild older cars rather than buying new ones.
Richard is entirely right. It was in late 1948 that the IRS changed considerably the regulations about rebuilt cars, no longer allowing the cost of rebuilding them to be "expensed" against income. A number of previously active rebuilders, such as PFE, paid a big back tax bill and immediately stopped rebuilding altogether.

However, the practice of replacing oder, worn out livestock cars with cars converted from obsolete box cars was almost universal in the railroad industry after World War II . . . Railroads that followed that practice included the Santa Fe, Great Northern, Union Pacific, Chicago & Northwestern, Rio Grande, Rock Island, New York Central, Grand Trunk Western, Western Pacific, and doubtless a bunch of others that don't come immediately to mind.
You can add both SP and T&NO, which had different approaches but which both did such conversions. And between them, they owned a pretty big fleet of stock cars.

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


Bruce Smith
 

On Dec 6, 2010, at 1:19 PM, Anthony Thompson wrote:

Richard Hendrickson wrote:
Railroads that
followed that practice included the Santa Fe, Great Northern, Union
Pacific, Chicago & Northwestern, Rio Grande, Rock Island, New York
Central, Grand Trunk Western, Western Pacific, and doubtless a bunch
of others that don't come immediately to mind.
You can add both SP and T&NO, which had different approaches but
which both did such conversions. And between them, they owned a pretty
big fleet of stock cars.
And PRR and B&O...

Regards
Bruce

Bruce F. Smith
Auburn, AL
http://www.vetmed.auburn.edu/index.pl/bruce_f._smith2

"Some days you are the bug, some days you are the windshield."
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al_brown03
 

--- In STMFC@yahoogroups.com, Bruce Smith <smithbf@...> wrote:

On Dec 6, 2010, at 1:19 PM, Anthony Thompson wrote:

Richard Hendrickson wrote:
Railroads that
followed that practice included the Santa Fe, Great Northern,
Union Pacific, Chicago & Northwestern, Rio Grande, Rock Island,
New York Central, Grand Trunk Western, Western Pacific, and
doubtless a bunch of others that don't come immediately to mind.
You can add both SP and T&NO, which had different approaches
but which both did such conversions. And between them, they
owned a pretty big fleet of stock cars.
And PRR and B&O...
And Seaboard ...

Al Brown, Melbourne, Fla.


Richard Hendrickson
 

On Dec 6, 2010, at 11:29 AM, Bruce Smith wrote:

On Dec 6, 2010, at 1:19 PM, Anthony Thompson wrote:

Richard Hendrickson wrote:
Railroads that
followed that practice included the Santa Fe, Great Northern, Union
Pacific, Chicago & Northwestern, Rio Grande, Rock Island, New York
Central, Grand Trunk Western, Western Pacific, and doubtless a bunch
of others that don't come immediately to mind.
You can add both SP and T&NO, which had different approaches but
which both did such conversions. And between them, they owned a
pretty
big fleet of stock cars.
And PRR and B&O...
But in the '60s, not during the period covered by this list, n'est ce
pas?

Richard Hendrickson


Dennis Storzek
 

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

Richard Hendrickson wrote:
A plausible speculation, Doug, with one exception: by the 1950s,
the tax laws no longer made it advantageous to rebuild older cars
rather than buying new ones.
Richard is entirely right. It was in late 1948 that the IRS
changed considerably the regulations about rebuilt cars, no longer
allowing the cost of rebuilding them to be "expensed" against income.
A number of previously active rebuilders, such as PFE, paid a big back
tax bill and immediately stopped rebuilding altogether.
Except for something as rough and crude as a stockcar, it was still advantageous to rebuild a car and capitalize a small amount rather than capitalize the larger cost of a new car. The math likely no longer worked for reefers, as while the cost of the rebuild might be less than a new car, the life expectancy of the rebuild was also less. But for stockcars the numbers apparently still worked.

Dennis


Benjamin Hom
 

Richard Hendrickson wrote:
"Railroads that followed that practice included the Santa Fe, Great
Northern, Union Pacific, Chicago & Northwestern, Rio Grande, Rock
Island, New York Central, Grand Trunk Western, Western Pacific,
and doubtless a bunch of others that don't come immediately to mind.

Bruce Smith replied:
"And PRR and B&O..."

Richard Hendrickson responded:
"But in the '60s, not during the period covered by this list, n'est ce
pas?"

For the PRR Class K9, K11, ex-Erie K12 and B&O Class S-1
cars from the 1960s, yes; however, the largest group of stock cars
on the Pennsy before the K9 and K11 cars were converted from Class
X32 and subclass starting in 1959 were the Class K7A cars rebuilt
from obsolescent Class X24 automobile cars in 1936.  This is the car
modeled by the Broadway Limited (and no, it isn't accurate for roads
not named PRR).  In fact, PRR would not acquire any new stockcars
after the Class K8 cars in 1924, though it considered acquiring
new Class K10 cars in 1959, but instead chose to go with the rebuilt
cars.


Ben Hom