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Cotton Ginning and Compressing

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Cotton Ginning and Compressing
Posted by Late4Dinner on Saturday, April 25, 2020 9:34 PM

While investigating prototypes for my first HO scale railroad, I came across this Sanborn Map. As I understand it (correct me if I am wrong) cotton is ginned and then compressed. Here, the Compress is across the tracks from the gin. How did the cotton get from the gin to the compress?

Sanborn Map Grenada Mississippi

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Posted by dknelson on Monday, April 27, 2020 10:17 AM

There seems to be a substantial amount of info, including YouTube videos of old and more recent films, on the entire process and I hope you have explored those thoroughly.

I wonder if the structure across the street is in fact where the compressed bales of cotton (500 pounds according to one source) were warehoused, rather than where the compression took place?  There would be many good reasons for keeping the warehouse separated from the operational side of the business.  And the warehouse needs the rail service, not the compression building.

The other alternative that occurs to me is that the Sanborn map does not show overhead pipes and the ginned cotton was blown via pipe over the tracks to a compression building?  Sanborn maps are wonderfully useful to the modeler but they don't tell you everything and they leave stuff out that is not related to their purpose.

Everything I read during my brief Google foray into the cotton business suggested that at most mills, the ginning and compressing were integral and would not have been separated - but the warehousing might well be separated.

Dave Nelson 

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Posted by Late4Dinner on Monday, April 27, 2020 10:53 AM

Thank you Dave,

This was my first posting, and I got an error message, so I wrote another, more detailed email. I don't know if the moderator will catch that or not. If not, I apologize to all for the duplicate post.

Further research (of course I stumbled on it after posting) indicates compressing became part of the ginning process in the 1890s. I was confused because business call "Cotton Compress" exist even today. I guess they are warehouses.

Tom

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Posted by tstage on Monday, April 27, 2020 9:48 PM

The following offering by Ed (gmpullman) was extracted from the other duplicate thread before it was deleted:


Could the uncompressed bales have been delivered to the compress building by wagon or even hand truck (labor was cheap) since, from what I gather, the compression or "screwing" of the bales was essentially a step in shipping procedure.

https://thehistorybandits.com/2015/02/13/screwmen-spidermen-and-cottons-gilded-age-gargantua/

 

 compress by Edmund, on Flickr

 I've seen other examples of industries that have expanded and without useable real estate — possibly hemmed in by other properties or barriers such as waterways — would have to build "on the other side of the tracks" and join the plants with overhead walkways, tunnels or, least desirable, physical crossings at grade.

Regards, Ed

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Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 11:29 AM

Late4Dinner
Here, the Compress is across the tracks from the gin. How did the cotton get from the gin to the compress?

I assume you are talking about the Mississippi Cotton Oil Company and  the Grenada Compress Co. 

Two different companies, processes and products.  They aren't connected, except they are in the cotton products business.

The cotton is ginned (not at either of those buildings) and the cotton fibers are separated and sent to the compress.  The huls and seeds are removed from the fibers and sent to the oil company.  The oil company separates the hulls from the cotton seed.  The seed is pressed, providing oil and meal.  Cotton seed oil is used in cooking.  Cotton seed meal is a high quality animal feed.  The cotton husks are an animal food additive and used as mulch.  

When I was Trainmaster in N Little Rock, AR, a cotton seed oil mill was on my territory in Pine Bluff.  Seeds and husks were delivered by truck from the cotton gins.  Oil was shipped out in tank cars.  Cotton seed meal and husks were shipped in bulk in boxcars.  It packed too much for covered hoppers, it wasn't free flowing.

The track at the oil mill should be incredibly nasty.  Cotton seed meal turns black,  gooey, and stinks to high heaven when it rots because it is high in protein.  The crews wore boots when they switched the plant.  Where a lot of it spilled by the loading area, you never really saw the ground except in the winter, because the rest of the year that area was covered in a layer of flies and gnats.

At the compress the baled cotton fibers come in, then they compressed for shipment to the mills.  While a compressed bale might look white and "fluffy", its actually hard, you could drive a nail into it.

 

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by Late4Dinner on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 5:03 PM

Thank you Dave. I was hoping to hear from someone with first hand knowledge. So it would be protopical to have a cotton gin in another town that ships uncompressed baled cotton and seeds and husks to Grenada? Would that still be true in 1953?

 

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Posted by garya on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 6:48 PM

dehusman
 

Cotton seed oil is used in cooking.  Cotton seed meal is a high quality animal feed.  The cotton husks are an animal food additive and used as mulch. 

 

Cottonseed oil was (is?) used to make Crisco and Wesson oil.  There is a also a natural occuring toxin refined from cottonseed oil used for pesticides and other purposes.  Lots of tank cars needed.

Gary

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