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Lumber yards and coal

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Lumber yards and coal
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, August 21, 2001 10:10 PM
If my memory serves me correctly, the lumber yards of the 50's into the 60's served directly by a rail carrier also had "bins" for coal, sand,and gravel. I am looking for info on modeling this type of operation in N scale. I have Walthers lumberyard, but where do I get info, or photos, or plans for modeling beyond just the lumber yard?? Thanks.
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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 11:41 PM
The coal yard/lumber yard combination you remember was quite common in small to medium sized towns at least through the 1950's. By then coal had pretty much become obsolete as a form of home heating fuel. I model in HO, but I think all of the kits I used are available in N. I have built a similar combination dealer using the Walthers "O.L. King & Sons" Coal yard as a starting point. The brick building with covered truck scale better represents a little larger company. I added an Atlas Lumber Yard for the lumber storage portion of the business. I recently replaced the coal bins that came with the "O.L. King" kit with the coal silos from the Walthers "Golden Flame" fuel company, since I liked the more impressive silo setup, and provides a better coal unloading facility for my location. Your mention of sand and gravel just may inspire me to retain the old coal bins for sand and gravel! The "Goldenflame" office/scale would be good for a smaller business. As far as plans for the layout of this operation, you have a lot of flexibility depending on size and shape of the available area. If possible, you may want separate tracks for coal and lumber to be unloaded (I have to make do with one track, so any coal cars have to be "pulled" in order to bring in a lumber car). If possible, you want to keep the lumber as far as possible away from the coal area to help keep the lumber as clean as possible. An office building large enough to house a retail hardware/builder's supply would also be a plus. Also, the entire business should probably be fenced in. Hope this helps. Ron H.
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Posted by pgrayless on Monday, August 27, 2001 12:10 PM
Irenee,

Some dealerships also sold fuel oil. They were one-stop suppliers in remote communities. The reply above is a good combination of commerical kits, as I have been think about using them myself.

Paul Grayless
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, August 27, 2001 8:40 PM
In many rural areas, local distributors were centered around the rail line, since this is where the good would come in. Hence, you would find lumber yards, & coal depots would be right alongside the train station. And it's certainly conceivable that a lumber dealer could have sold lump coal to his customers for heating their homes, & gravel for construction purposes, as well as seed, & other farming supplies. Sort of the predecessor of Home Depot (maybe that's where they got that name)
Sounds like a great idea for a model to me.
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, August 27, 2001 11:08 PM
A little additional comment on my above post. The "Golden Flame" kit is sold with fuel oil tanks as part of the kit. I already have a fuel oil dealer (Walthers "Interstate fuel & oil"), but needed diesel fuel tanks near the diesel service facility, so the tanks didn't go to waste.
As mentioned in the post directly above, particularly in smaller farm towns, some farmer's "CO-OP's" went well beyond feed & seed, and also sold lumber, fuel of various types, and even farm implements such as tractors etc. I have seen small towns that consisted of The CO-OP, a couple of taverns, a few houses and a church. The size of the town, and the distance to the next town, would probably determine just how much consolidation of various businesses there would be. The bigger the town, the more separate businesses there would be. If you model the 1940-60 era or earlier, such towns were quite common in rural farm based areas and supported whatever was grown locally, so that a town in an area of dairy farms would be somewhat different than a town in a beef raising or cotton growing region. In a more recent time, many of the smaller towns have either become a shadow of their former self or disappeared due to improvements in highway systems and vehicles, and the loss of rail branch lines. Ron H.
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, August 30, 2001 9:17 PM
OK, thanks to you, Ron H, I have a great deal more info than I expected.
The original idea for this came because when I was in Junior High School, there was a lumber yard just across the CB&Q/MKT tracks in North St Louis (MO) county. At that time I paid more attention to the Chinese Red and White CB&Q diesels, but I swear I remember double door boxcars unloading at the lumber yard AND that there were other "supplies", like coal, gravel, and sand.
I am modeling the upper Midwest (Wisconsin/Minnesota) from roughly early 50's to early 60's with MILW/GN/CB&Q power and lots of cars from the 50's. Thanks again.
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, August 31, 2001 4:45 PM
Ron,

Those are some excellent ideas. I'm currently working on a coal project set in Penn, and I think I will incorporate some of those features. I've been looking at a number of kits to incorporate, and I will deffinately take a look at the O.L. King kit.

Thanks again,

Mike Oryszak
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, August 31, 2001 9:08 PM
Lisa, thanks for the kind words. I grew up in Fond du Lac, WI in the '50s, only a few blocks from the old SOO passenger station. The area around the depot consisted of several fuel dealers, both coal and oil, and a large farmer's CO-OP. The local lumber yards were farther up the line. I had three uncles who were dairy farmers, and I spent a good portion of my summers on the farms during the hay, wheat and corn harvest. We'd often have to go into towns similar to those described above for supplies, equipment parts etc. If my cousins and I had been reasonably good, we might even get a glass of pop and a candy bar while my uncle would have a beer or two while waiting for repairs or parts. Ron H.
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, September 10, 2001 3:18 PM
Lisa -- From 1930 until the start of WWII my dad owned a small lumber company in a little town of 4,000 in northeast Arkansas right next to the Frisco main line between St. Louis and Memphis. I was quite small then but I spent quite a bit of time there and remember very well the bins that you described. There was an "L"-shaped shed on the north end of the yard with the short end of the L on the east. The four bins were constructed of railroad ties and one contained gravel for making concret, one contained pea gravel, one contained sand and the last one had been used for coal but was never filled during the period just before the war. Can't say what year he had his last shipment of coal brought in but I do remember the remnants of chucks of coal in the bottom of the bin. There was a straight shed on the south side of the property which extended from the street to the railroad right of way as did the L building on the north side.

Frisco had a siding of the main line beginning at the south side of the main street through the center of town and extending alongside the mainline for two-three miles. A spur off that siding served the lumber company and the ice plant about 1/4 mile south. The spur ran alongside the bins and the short end of the L and underneath the building overhang so the cars could be unloaded in rainy weather.

Dad had two flatbed trucks for lumber delivery and a forklift for unloading the boxcars of palatized shipments of plywood, cement, etc. The lumber was unloaded by hand, generally off flat cars, onto the flat bed trucks then driven to the sheds for storage. Sometimes the lumber would come in boxcars. I don't remember a loading platform of any kind...rather, the forklift would unload the boxcar from the doors until there was sufficient space to maneuver inside then ramps would be put in place and the forklift would be run inside the boxcar to bring the pallets out to the waiting truck. When the truck was loaded, it would move to the shed where the lumber was to be stocked, the forklift would come out of the boxcar and then unload the truck into the shed. It usually took a couple of days or more for two men to unload a boxcar or flatcar and store its contents.

The summer before the war, I remember dad renting a tractor-trailer flatbed and driving to Memphis to pick up a load of lumber. Don't know whether this spelled the end of railroad delivery or not of if it did, why.

The building which housed the offices and hardware sales was rectangular in shape with a false front on which the sign "Home Lumber Company" ran across the face. The parking lot and yard were covered with crushed limestone. The buildings were lapboard sided and painted a light yellow. On the front of the office was a large window, about the size of a picture window. It was next to an entrance door to the left which had small panels of glass from top to bottom inside the door frame. There were no other windows in the front of the building which I would guest was about 50 feet wide. On the back side was my dad's office with another large picture window through which he could view the activities in the yard. That was in the southeast cornder. Dad also had a door which allowed him direct access to the yard. North of the center of the back side was and exit door for customers to access the yard. It had a large glass pane in the upper half of the door.

As a side note, the ice house did not provide ice for railroad reefers but it shipped out huge qantities of large blocks of ice that were loaded onto boxcars daily. The blocks were as taller than a man and were slid on their ends into the boxcars. It took two men to handle them and they were almost as tall as the boxcar door. I have no idea where they were being shipped to.

Hope you find that informative and helpful.

Len

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