Milk Trains in New York State
On milk trains in New York State, most railroad-owned cars were of the “milk can” variety while privately owned cars were bulk tank cars (usually two separate 3000 gallon tanks). The milk trains that traversed the New York Central’s Hudson Division at night were solid milk trains with a rider car on to the rear for the crew. An equipment breakdown from the mid to late 1940’s I picked up on the “Web” is as follows: General American Pfaudler (GPEX) 312 cars (1949), NYC 312 cars (1943), Erie 135 cars (1943), D&H 16 cars (1943), Rutland 43 cars (1943). The railroad owned cars above were AAR class: BM, while the GPEX were AAR class: BMT, as most private owned cars were classed. Both the D&H, and the Rutland milk trains had very interesting operations, starting out as passenger trains with milk cars cut in and out along the route until they hit a predetermined junction then split the passenger train and milk train for different destinations.
New York Central (Mainline)
On the NYC, the major milk trains were as follows:
|· Train # 16 from the St. Lawrence Div. started at 7a.m. from Massena, near the Canadian border, headed south picking up milk cars along the way from places like Ogdensburg (added cars at DeKalb Junction). In Watertown, the train had 14 to 15 milk cars and a couple of passenger cars that left as train #70 for Utica. Some milk cars came off of Oswego Branch. Arriving at Utica with 19-20 milk cars, train #70 was combined with train #64 off of the Utica-Carthage Branch which had around 10 milk cars, becoming train #184 to Rensselaer and down the Hudson Division. Train #184 swapped motive power at Harmon at 9:30 p.m., at Spuyten Duyvil one bulk milk car was dropped off for delivery to the Bronx Terminal Market. About half of the cars were switched out at 130th Street yard, and the rest went to 60th Street yard arriving at 11:30 p.m.|
|· The second milk train started out as train #188 from Syracuse at 8:41 a.m. gathering cars from the West Shore enroute to Rensselaer. Here D&H cars were tied on for the trip down the Hudson Division as train #182. This train arrived at the 60th Street yard at 12:20 a.m.|
|· About 5 milk cars not on the regular milk trains were carried on several separate passenger trains on the Hudson Division then dropped off at Harmon, then run down to 60th Street yard.|
|· The two westbound empties were trains #183 which left 60th street at 4:30 a.m., and train #185 which in turn left 60th street at 7:30 a.m.|
New York Central (West of the Hudson)
One more NYC milk train operated on the West Shore, starting out as train #528 on the Catskill Mountain Branch from Oneonta. Between Oneonta and Kingston, it picked up 7 or 8 milk cars as well as carrying local passengers. From Kingston it operated on the West Shore as a Milk Extra to Weehawken milk yard, transferred to truck and ferried to 42nd Street in Manhattan.
The Rutland milk ran to Chatham as train 88 which held over for 90 minutes for the arrival of the northbound empties from the NYC on the Harlem Division. The trains were swapped over from one railroad to the other as the Rutland crew returned north with the empties. The Rutland milk train dropped one car at Mott Haven for the Bronx Terminal Market, dropped cars at 130th Street yard, and arrived at 60th Street yard at 3:20 a.m. In regards to the Rutland Milk trains, from the Jim Shaughnessy book: Trains #87 (northbound) and #88 (southbound) seem to be the milk trains that operated across the Rutland system to/from the New York Central connection at Chatham, NY. The “Corkscrew” division between Rutland and Chatham had little or no local business online, and was approved for abandonment in 1952. By the time #88 made the last run over the Rutland’s “Corkscrew” division to Chatham in May, 1953, the “milk train” looked more like a manifest local, with about 8 cars between the RS3 and the caboose. After the “corkscrew” was shut down, #88 ran via B&M & NYC trackage rights via Troy and Rensselaer to Chatham. On the last two pages of the book “Trackside in the Albany, NY Gateway”, there are shots of a Rutland train moving thru Rensselaer around 1960. The Rutland milk train had a long circuitous route, as cars came from Burlington and points north near the Canadian border as well. In the early 1950’s as trucks took over the bulk of the milk traffic from the railroads, the NY State legislation banned Vermont milk from being processed in NY state just about ending the Rutland’s milk into NY state, I think the Rutland took their business to Boston. On the Harlem Division, the station at Patterson was demolished after an interesting incident took place. Early one morning in August 1952, one of the cars of the eastbound Rutland milk train derailed as the train was passing by the station, crashing into the southeast corner of the station, and bringing other cars behind it off the rails, tearing up track a creating a big mess.
The D&H milk trains originated in northern New York around Whitehall. At Rensselaer, D&H cars were tied on to the New York Central train for the trip down the Hudson Division as train #182.
The NYO&W ran, probably until the end, a “Milk Train” into and out of Weehawken, but this was, at least by the 1950s, as much a mail express and local/LCL freight as it was a milk run. Some O&W milk came in on containers mounted on flat cars, which were transferred to trucks and brought into New York City via the Weehawken ferries.
Boston and Maine
A B&M milk came down to Rensselaer through Troy from Mechanicville. Its cars too were added to the NY Central milk trains.
There were working milk plants served out of Utica on the RW&O, the West Shore, and the M&M (Adirondack Division) into the sixties. The Borden plant on the M&M and the Dairylea plant on the West Shore still had rail service until 1970+/-.
Milk Handling on the New Haven
About 3 milk cars were still on the roster as of 1946 (the last year the cars were shown or a tariff published for milk). Most were converted during 1943-44 to other uses. These cars were passenger-train equipped and could be used for express shipments etc. A famous train was the Milk Train, locally known as the “Big Milk”. This train ran from Pittsfield to Bridgeport, picking up and loading milk as far as Newtown, arriving in Bridgeport with from 25 to 30 carloads every day. From there, the train ran to New York. After the creameries at Hawleyville and Newtown closed, the milk train ran to New York via Danbury and South Norwalk.
The demise of frequent local service and the time sensitive nature of the milk business all contributed to the end of this type of traffic. The centralized bottling plants lent themselves to truck traffic due to the low volume shipments and the raw milk traffic lingered on for a short time.
Cannonsville, NY nce had a creamery. It was flooded out when the new resevoir filled
The Milk Man is Returning, Will the Milk Train Return Too?
King Brothers Dairy in upstate New York, and others too, have brought the “Milk Man” back. No he doesn’t have an old-fashioned wagon pulled by “Old Dobbin”. Nor does he even have a “DIVCO”. Instead he has a modern truck equipped with GPS. The Albany Times-Union had a great article on the return of the milk man.
Now that the Milk Man is returning, how about bringing back the Milk Train? No, I am not advocating bringing back the old Boston & Maine tracks to Schuylerville (where the dairy is located). I want to see these “long haul” milk trucks off the road for the sake of our ecology. No, I don’t have a perfect solution, but if you have any ideas, respond to our comments.
| There were two types of milk cans, New York style and New England style. New York style had folding handles, New England style did not.
There were many makers of cans, and each maker had their own ideas that they tried to sell for market advantage. As to why there was no standardization of cans, well the capacity was standardized in the marked number of quarts, but beyond that, one might as well ask why there is more than one type of automobile.
Small farms had two redundant sets (“today’s” (full) and “yesterday’s” (empty)). The cans were marked with a thick red glossy paint with the farm’s code number (assigned by the local creamery) and a can number (that was sequential within the set). Both lids and cans were labeled and numbered the same, to keep them together.
Cans were never outlawed per se, but due to rising handling costs one-by-one the local milk-plants started to refuse to take milk in cans, demanding the more labor-efficient bulk-tank truck systems instead.
When the last local buyer of milk in cans was gone, if a farmer could not afford the huge investment to switch to a bulk tank, he lost his milk-market and had to sell his cows and quit the business.
Bordens at Pine Plains
Nimke Vol 3, p 142
Remaining & Known Disposition of Bulk Milk Cars
| Borden’s Butterdish – Union, IL
GPEX Steel cars – Union, IL (2)
Erie steel car – Rochester, NY
B&M steel cars – Bellows Falls, VT (2);
Wooden can cars – O&W Childs, PA;
Trolley – P&W milk motor, Washington, PA
|Contributions from our Readers|
| The last Ontario & Western milk came, most likely, from Pleasant Mount (Dairyman’s League)on the Scranton Division, ca. 1952. The “Long Milk” operated from Oneida to Weehawken but was gone by the 1940s. Honneckers’ Dairy shipped on the O&W from Sherburne Four Corners, NY, in specialized containers on modified flat cars developed by the O&W and Motor Terminals, Inc., of Middletown, NY, to N. Bergen, NJ; — a distance of 278 [timetable] miles.
Contributed June, 2006 by Mal Houck
| And as for Boston & Maine milk service the last of the service ran from Eagle Bridge, NY to the Hood plant on Rutherford Ave., in Charlestown, MA ca. 1972.
Contributed June, 2006 by Mal Houck
West Side Freight: Milk Plants
| Sheffield Farms opened a plant adjoining its company’s headquarters at 524 W. 57th St. in 1938. Here is a quote from the article on the new plant in the June 22, 1938 The American Produce Review.
“The new plant, adjoining the company’s headquarters at 524 West 57th St., spans the tracks of the New York Central which run below street level from the 60th St. yards to 35th St. between Tenth and Eleventh Aves. The tracks wer laid in a cut a year ago, removing the railroad from Eleventh Ave.”
“Relocation of the railroad enabled the company to build on this site and obtain the long sought rail terminal within the plant. First, however, the dairy and the railroad made an unusual real estate deal by which the railroad maintains a right of way through the plant and the dairy owns the air rights above the tracks.”
“The new plant is the only milk plant in Manhattan and the second in New York City to have a railroad siding on plant property. The other plant, also built by Sheffield Farms, is in Jamaica. It was opened a year ago. The rail head in the plant saves the time and expense involved in hauling milk from railroad yards in tank trucks.”
On New York Central’s 30th Street Branch in New York City (the High Line), Borden’s had a facilities at the St. John’s Park (the terminal at the end of the branch). Here is what I know: Borden’s had a dedicated platform that handled Milk and other dairy products. This traffic came from 60th Street Yard. I believe that Borden’s had a dedicated “Milk Train” to St. John’s Park.
Creameries on the New Haven Railroad
There were creameries all over New Haven territory prior to the 1920’s and 1930’s shipping milk to the major urban areas of Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York city. The Berkshire line and the ex-CNE lines had a lot of this service. Amston and Westchester Connecticut shipped milk to New Haven using the well know “New Haven Dairy” cars in the late 1920’s. The railroad itself owned a large fleet (about 150) of 36ft insulated milk cars for hauling cans of milk (the mentioned New Haven Dairy cars were bulk milk tank cars owned or leased by the dairy, not the railroad). Most originating milk traffic was probably gone before WWII, going to truck haul instead of rail. The NH RR milk cars were used as express cars for some time, and the last left the roster in 1946.
Milk continued to be shipped by rail from points outside New Haven territory, being delivered at least to Hartford, Providence and Quincy, MA until quite late (1953 for the last named delivered to White Brother’s dairy). These shipments would have been bulk or bottled milk delivered in B&M, CV or dairy owned/leased cars.
In the hudson Valley there were dozens of creameries on NH lines just in Dutchess County. They seemed to pop up like mushrooms along the tracks.
For example in Hopewell Junction there was a Bordens creamery that opened in the spring of 1901 with 900 tons of ice on hand for processing the milk. At peak output that one creamery shipped as many a 6 cars of milk to New York City every day.
There were at least 3 other creameries within 5 miles of the one in Hopewell Junction.
Along the CNE in Hartford, just south/east of Albany Ave. there was a Sealtest dairy that was a consignee. I believe there was another dairy along the east side of the Hartford main line just south of the tunnels.
Perhaps the large dairy in Amston was the thing that kept the Air line in operation out east of Portland as long as it was (1965), since there wasn’t — and isn’t — much else out in those parts. The Air line local ran to Amston triweekly.
I have located three creameries in the Berkshire County/northern CT area, including the ones at West Stockbridge, Great Barrington, and Canaan, CT. The West Stockbridge creamery was operated under the Bordens’ name for a while. It operated in the 1920s, and was located where the trailer park is on Rt. 41. The Gre at Barrington Creamery was located at the Maple Street crossing, and was operated by Bordens and, later, the Dairymen’s League. Trucks took over afte 1935, or so. The Canaan creamery was north of today’s Housatonic RR headquarters, just south of town.
Cornwall Bridge (Borden) is still standing, about 75 yards south of the station on east side of tracks.
Kent had two, not sure who ran them. Both were about 50 yards south of station on east side of tracks.
One still stands, a 3-story, red, board and batten building which had, and may still have, a hand-operated elevator (just pull the rope) to move things between the floors.
The other burned in the late 60’s / early 70’s; the remaining wood has probably rotted away, but the concrete foundation has to still be there. You could still make out the name painted on the side in the ’70’s; fuzzy memories recall it said “Mt. Vernon Dairy, Mt. Vernon, NY”, but please don’t bet anything on it.
From what I have found about Berkshire “creameries”, they varied in function from just trans-loading cans from farmers’ wagons or trucks to actual processing plants where raw milk was processed into cream and sometimes pasteurized. Some creameries also repackaged milk into bottles for shipment.
In the case of Hopewell Junction in Dutchess County NY, the milk was gathered in 40 quart cans by the railroad and carried to the Bordens Creamery in Hopewell Junction. At Hopewell Junction it was bottled and put in wooden cases then hauled by railroad to be distributed in New York City.
As far as I know, the cars belonged to the railroads, not the milk companies. At first they were converted box cars. Early milk cars used winter ice from local ponds to keep the milk cool. They stored the ice in insulated buildings for use in the summer.
When the Bordens creamery in Hopewell Junction opened in the spring of 1901, they had over 900 tons of ice stored from a pond in Billings. The ice was hauled to Hopewell Junction by the ND&C RR which later became part of the CNE and the New Haven.
From Hopewell Junction the bottled milk was hauled to Dutchess Junction or Beacon and transferrd to the NYC RR Hudson Line to New York City. In the earlier years some of the milk was transferred to steamboats on the river to New York. There was a problem with the motion of the steamboats turning the milk into butter before it got to the city.
Some of the creameries in northern Dutchess County sent the milk by rail to Millerton and to the city via the NYC Harlem line.
In addition to hauling the milk, railroads also hauled the new glass bottles to the creameries. The wooden cases and many used bottles were also returned to the creameries for recycling. And don’t forget the coal to power the whole operation.
There was a creamery at Jewett City,CT that provided milk by rail to Elm Farm Milk Company, Bird Street, Boston, MA. This was a daily car picked up at 6:17am by northbound Train 704. The train arrived in Putnam,CT at 7:17am and was allowed 8 minutes to set out the car. In the meantime Train 112 had also arrived at Putnam from Willimantic with a car for Elm Farm in tow. Train 112 was given 15 minutes to pickup and add the Jewett City car to its consist. Tr 112 left Putnam at 7:35am and arrived Franklin,MA at 8:56am. At Franklin Tr 112 was converted to express service for its run to Boston, so the 2 milk cars were set off and waited for Tr 4128 which was a local that stopped at Readville. At Readville, the cars were transferred to an Extra that did the final delivery to Bird Street. In addition, there were 2 other milk cars that crossed the Norwich line at Plainfield, CT on their way from Willimantic to Providence on Train 4306. One car was for Providence Dairy and the other for Providence Milk Car Association. This above would have been in the late 1920’s. I’m not sure at this point how long these particular operations lasted as there were a great many consolidations in the milk business going forward and some of it is not easy to trace.
New Haven milk cars in the 20th century looks a lot like the rest of the rebuilt wood side 36ft boxcar fleet. At some point in the 1930’s the boxcar type doors (but not all the hardware) were removed, allowing you to see the reefer style doors originally coverd by the sliding doors.
All these 36 ft cars were gone by 1946; milk service after that time was in leased cars or cars from B&M, CV etc.
Thanks to Bernie Rudberg and others.
| The Ontario & Western got out of the milk business early, just like they got out of the railroad business early, but they were in it at one time.
The O&W Southern Division (below Sidney) provided a great deal of milk, cheese curd a fluid traffic, but many of the “processed” dairy products came from further north.
While not far enough to the North [to be “Northern Division”] Walton and Delhi also provided traffic in condensed and evaporated milk. Pennelville had a substantial condensery, on the O&W Main Line.
New York, Ontario & Western Railroad was a class 1 railroad and ran a Long Milk from Oswego, N.Y. to Weehauken, New Jersey for transfer to the New York City Market. This was a 326 mile trip for Milk Train 9 with pick ups along the branches of bulk and can cars which held case milk as well. They took from Bordens, Hohneker’s Dairymans league, Muller, Sheffield to name some.
Lehigh Valley Milk
| Most of Lehigh Valley’s important milk traffic originated on northern Pennsylvania and New York branch lines. A daily milk train down the Auburn Branch brought milk cars from as far as Fair Haven and collected additional cars as it stopped at points such as Moravia, Dryden, Newark Valley and Owego. A similar train brought milk cars down the Elmira & Cortland Branch from as far as Canastota. Another milk run, usually powered by a gas- electric, collected cars between Geneva and Sayre via the Ithaca Branch and also carried a car off the Naples Branch, which came in at Geneva.
Another gas-electric train, known as the “little milk” by trainmen, collected milk cars in the Sayre area. The run started in Sayre and went up the Auburn Branch a few miles to collect a car at Smithboro. Then it went back down the branch, passed through Sayre and headed east on the main line to pick up a car at the Ulster(Pa.) creamery. The train then continued east through Towanda to Wysox to make another pickup, then backtracked to Towanda where it reversed and headed down the State Line & Sullivan Branch. It turned on the wye at Bernice and then collected cars at Lopez and other creameries. After it arriving back at the main line at Towanda, it returned to Sayre.
All the milk cars were combined into a single train at Sayre called the “Big Milk”, officially designated train 36. This huge milk train often exceeded forty cars and ran through to the company’s milk terminal at Jersey City.
|According to John Nehrich in the first of the Lljestrand milk car volumes, Lehigh Valley still had 62 milk cars in 1943, in addition to any privately-owned or leased cars which may have been used, although I would have thought milk traffic was starting to thin by then. Several views in Caloroso’s Morning Sun title, Trackside at Sayre, show LV milkcars being consolidated from the New York State branches for delivery to New York City|
Milk trains into New York City in 1917 were almost a rush hour. Starting late in the evening, these trains passed Spuyten Duvil:
|By Charles W. Brainard (Written about 1940)
Through the courtesy of Richard Palmer, Historian, Central New York Chapter, NRHS, Syracuse, N.Y.
Mr. Brainard resided at 105 Riverside Drive, Utica, N.Y. He was born in Auburn, N.Y., June 19, 1891 and died at his home in Utica, Sept. 29, 1944. He lived in Utica for 22 years and was employed by the New York Central Railroad 32 years.
| On Dec. 31st, 1939 train 570 came into Utica with only four wooden milk cars and one (enclosed) tank car. It also had on the head end one coach and combination smoker and baggage cars. A crew coach was on the end, which returns on 519. This is the lightest I ever saw the milk train off the St. Lawrence Division. This includes what used to be train 20 also which picked up the milk between Watertown and Rome. This last named train used to average at least six cars at this time of the year and train 70 averaged 10 to 12 also.
Train 64 which never went below six cars on this same date had one (enclosed) tank car. This is the lightest I ever saw this train. It did have three cars of paper from Lyons Falls and a crew coach. It must be remembered that a tank car with two tanks in each and of 3,000 gallons and were equal to about two ordinary cars of milk when loaded in cars. The average milk car now used and loaded with cans one tier will hold about 385 cans. Some cars have racks which let down over the first tier and cans are loaded on each side or double-decked as it is called. About 200 more 40 quart cans can then be put into the car. So it is seen that a full tank car will hold at least 600 40-quart cans of milk.
It will be seen from the above that main train #184 would have only six cars of milk for New York. This train takes the contents of St. Lawrence division trains 570 and 64 combined. If this keeps up it will be the end of these trains as that much milk will not pay operation. This looks as though the transportation of milk by rail was fast ebbing away. These new modern trucks can leave a milk station at ten in the morning and deliver the milk in New York by eight or nine in the evening or to to five hours quicker than by rail.
Up until ten years or so ago there were four milk trains on the Mohawk division. These trains were known as 180, 184, 186 and the West Shore milk 1088. No. 180 started out of Syracuse and loaded milk at Canastota, Verona, etc.,, then picked up the cars of St. Lawrence Division #20; also a car loaded at Rome. This train then wet on through to Rensselaer yard where it was combined with other trains from the D.& H. Train 186 received the cars from the Black River milk #64 then picked up at Herkimer the cans from the Poland branch and generally a car loaded locally at Herkimer. This train then beat it for Rensselaer yard unless occasionally it had to pick up milk cars at Little Falls or Fort Plain. This was sometimes combined with 180 or a D.& H. train there. No. 184 received the cars from 570 or what is still known as the big milk. In the summer time this train was run out of Watertown in two sections. The combined total of these two trains ran as high as 45 to 50 cars. I have know the Black River #84 to have 35 cars at one time into Utica. No. 184 after leaving Utica as a rule ran solid right through to New York.
Train 570 up until five or six years ago started out of Ogdensburgh generally with one car. Then it would pick up a car at the Nestles condensed milk station and another at the lower station at Morristown. Boxes of cheese would be loaded at Brier Hill into one of these cars and sometimes a car would be picked up. Then another car at Hammond and milk loaded off the platform at the station at Oakvale. One and sometimes two cars would be loaded at Redwood, and very frequently cheesed would be loaded there. The brakemen on the train were the stevedores and did the loading. At Theresa milk was loaded or picked up. Then at Philadelphia the cars of milk from the Clayton branch were picked up.
These cars were loaded at Clayton, Lafargeville and Orleans Corners and in later years a station was built at Douglass Crossing about two miles west of Rivergate junction. Those cars together with the cars from the Phildelphia station were attached and taken. At Evans Mills (as in later years this train ran via Watertown and Richland) 30 or 40 boxes of cheese were loaded. Also some was loaded at Watertown Depot, then the train proceeded to Watertown junction where it was combined with Train 16 from Massena. Also, a Black River car from the station of the same name, together with any cars from the Cape Vincent branch or originating cars from Watertown (generally the Hygenic Dairy Co.) were added to the train.
The train then ran solid to Utica (sometimes without a stop on a Sunday when no passengers from Rome for connection with the Empire State Express. United States Mail was also handled from Rome only. Once in awhile this train was stopped at Adams or Pierrepont Manor to load cream or take a rush car that could not be get ready in time for #20.
Number 16 started out of Massena and picked up cars and loaded milk at Potsdam, Canton and DeKalb Junction. At DeKalb Junction, milk from the Ogdensburg and DeKalb branch was received. This came from Rensselaer Falls and Heuvelton. These were milk stations at Gouverneur, Keene’s and Richville. Cheese was loaded at Antwerp. From here the train went direct to Watertown doing no more work. It also handled passengers from Massena to Watertown.
Milk Stations Massena to Watertown
Train #20 started from Watertown and did all the milk work, Watertown to Rome. It also handled deadhead baggage cars and coaches, Watertown to Utica. It started its work at Rice’s crossing five miles from Watertown. It required a lot of time here years ago as the car to load into had to be ahead of the engine as the siding was so short, then it would have to be run around to get back in the train again. Milk was loaded or a car picked up at the condensary at Adams Center. There was also another station on the eastbound track. This was not used after the condensary was built. At Adams a car was generally picked up and in later years there was a station at the west end over the Henderson Road crossing in which case a car had to be put ahead of the engine as at Rice’s.
At Pierrepont Manor the train nosed in at the old milk station at the east end of he freighthouse track. In later years this was abandoned and used for a storehouse by the condensary. All picked up cars and loading was done there after it was built. There was also a station at Mannsville which set back quite a ways and the milk had to be rolled out along a long platform to he cars. This had been abandoned quite a number of years. At Lacona there was a station at the east end near the last crossing. Here a tank was picked up in later years and trailer trucks mounted on flat cars were also used.
These cars were operated upon a swivel and swung around at the platform in New York and then run off then connected to a truck cab and run off. At Richland the cars from Pulaski and the Oswego branch (Mexico, Lycoming, etc.) were picked up. About a mile or so south of Richland is Centerville where the milk cars were iced. There is an abandoned milk station here where the trains used to load about fifteen years or more ago.
The next stop was Altmar where loading into the cars was done. This station has long since been torn down. Then milk was loaded at Williamstown, Westdale and Camden. There are still milk stations at these places, also at Blossvale. The train then went to Rome where the cars were given to main line train 180. Since the main line was straightened these cars were give to train at Tower 34 about two miles east of Rome. This was the end of train 20’s run. The engine and train crew then picked the empty cars or these leaded with return empty cars nd distributed then back to the stations where loaded. After April they would stop at Centerville and put ice in the cars to cool the milk loaded the next day for less than carload shipments. In carload shipments the ice had to be furnished by the shipper.
Now let us return to the old Black River road or that part of it that extends from Carthage to utica. This section is and was the greatest milk producing country in New York State. Let’s take a look at the work done by train 64 running between the above places about the year 1916. At this time there was more loading in cars then there was shipping by the carload. A great many of the stations had not yet put in sidings and the motor truck was not yet so much in use that the milk could be hauled farther and larger milk stations operated. In later years every farmer had a truck and would club in which his neighbors and they would take turns hauling the milk of each other with theirs and save the same one drawing every day.
We have seen how train #19, the return train of #20 mentioned, would stop at Centerville and put ice in the cars of empty cans for less-than-carload shipments. This was a lot harder for the brakeman as the cans would have to be piled up in the cars to make room for the ice. On train 64 at Carthage this was different as the cars were empty at the time of starting out in the morning, as the cars would be unloaded coming up the night before on train 77 (the opposite train of No. 64).
Let’s see now how this ice is put in the cars. The train is made up in the yard and then proceeds over to the ice-houe where the cars are spotted with their doors opposite the doors in the ice house. These doors were so built and arranged that when the door of the rear milk car is place the opposite the last ice house door the other cars are spotted also. The doors being the distance of two milk cars apart.
Now the ice is dragged in by the brakeman who have long tongs furnished by the foreman of the ice house. The cakes are placed lengthwise between the car door and end of door on one side and usually between the door and end in the other end of the car on the opposite side. The milk messenger then chops them into four to six pieces and they are piled up so that half of the car floor on each side is clear to receive the milk. On arriving at a station the milk is loaded on one side opposite the ice and generally one brakeman is assigned to throw up the ice on the cans while the others are loading the one side. By the time this half is loaded the ice is all up on the cans and then the other half is filled and the ice is spread over. The water from the ice dripping down over the cans keeps the milk thoroughly cooled. As soon as the car is filled it is closed up and sealed thereby keeping out the hot air from outside. There are vents in each end to let out the water.
Most of this icing is done away with at the present time by the use of tank cars. These cars have two big tanks in each end with a capacity of about 3,000 gallons or the equal of 300 forty-quart cans. As a milk car holds about 385 cans, or about 200 more if double-decked it is readily seen that these cars hold considerably more. By double-decked it is meant where there are cars that have racks that drop down from the sides and lay on top of the cans. The loaded cans have to be lifted up on these and rolled back in position. In double decking the cans have to be back far enough from the middle of the car so they will not top over and spill, as there are no racks in the center the width of the doors. Milk car doors are heavy and well insulated as also are the tops and sides of the cars. There are heavy iron handles and levers which when securely in place make the doors practically air tight.
Now to return to train 64. In heavy times in the summer the train would go to Natural Bridge and Rogers Crossing before starting to Utica. The first place is 10 and the second, five miles above Carthage on the old Carthage and Adirondack branch. At the time spoken of before, about 150 cans of milk would be loaded at the first place above and about the same number at the second place. Later cheese in boxes was loaded at the second place.
The next loading would be at C.& C. Jct. where milk and cream was loaded and shipped by the Brown and Bailey firm at Copenhagen. This was received from the Carthage & Copenhagen Railroad. I have omitted to say that 200 to 300 cars of milk would be loaded at Carthage at the old station at Spring Street crossing.
In the earlier days milk was loaded off the milk station platform at Deer River. Later a siding was put in and shipments made in carload lots. Later yet it was fixed here so that only tank cars were loaded. When the C.& C. was abandoned a platform was built just west of the depot the other side of the crossing and the Copenhagen milk and cream was trucked here. When they had big shipments a car would be cut out on the back or team track and they would load same. The ice for this would be unloaded on the platform above and then when the loaded car was picked u the crew of 64 would spot it at this platform and drag the ice back off the platform into the car and lift the cakes up on the cans and the messenger would chop and spread it.
Milk would be loaded at the Borden plant station at Castorland off the main track, then the train would proceed to the other end of the passing siding and back in on the Smith Bros plant and load about 200 more cans. This last name firm also shipped carload lots or at least nearly so. In this case if the crew has to bring ice the would just drag the ice into the station and the milk-station people would ice the car the next day when loading so all the train-crew had to do was pick up the car and leave the ice. The next picking was generally two cars of milk from the Lowville & Beaver River. Up until a few yeas ago this milk was picked up by train No.66 which later operated as train 70 via Watertown. Then it was picked up by train No. 72 for a number of years until this train’s time was changed later when the L.& B.R.R.R. arranged to get it over for 64. Boxes of cheese were next loaded off the platform just east of the depot and over at the Sheffield plant over the river (across Mill Creek bridge) two cars were picked up and generally a surplus had to be loaded into cars in the train by the crew. This station now ships in tank cars as well as the ones on the Beaver River.
A car was nearly always picked up at Glenfield, (Martinsburgh abandoned), then the next place would be Oliver, earlier known as Burdick’s Crossing. About 200 would be loaded here. Later a siding was put in here. Fred Weibel was in charge of this station and a good fellow he was. At Lyons Falls was another Borden station. Loading would be done here or a car picked up. At Port Leyden was another heavy loading station – 300 cans loaded here in the flush of the season. This was later equipped to load into tank cars. This station is now closed and boarded up.
At Boonville at the old Empire station as many as 400 cans of milk have been loaded. This station was located just north of the depot a few feet beyond the passing track switch. This is now gone and a new station built up on the hill with a siding to it is in use. This station shipped in carloads and less than carloads. In 1916 there was a station beyond the depot off no. 4 track called the Alec. Campbell station. The train would back in there and load. This station was later demolished and a small one later erected which was a heavy shipper of cream. This is now closed. Milk was also shipped at times from the condensary at Smith just south of the Remsen road crossing. Alder Creek and East Steuben did not ship such large lots – generally 150 from the first and sometimes 200 from the last named place. The station at Alder Creek is not used for milk any more and was last used for making cement blocks. The one at East Steuben finally fell down and has disappeared.
In 1916 there was a station just over the crossing south of the depot off the passing track. About 250 cars would be loaded there. This station burned down and a newer one has been erected by the Dairymen’s League above the depot on the west side of the main track. But this station now has a private track to it and cars are frequently loaded. This station also manufactures skim milk which is shipped in bags and loaded into freight cars. Cream is sent by milk train also from here.
We pass Prospect by as I do not recall a milk station here on the U.& B. There was one on the Herkimer branch which took care of this locality. This is abandoned now also. At Barneveld there was a large station operated by the Dairymen’s league. This place quite frequently shipped in carload lots. At least 200 cars were shipped from here in the flush of the season during the months of June and July. This station is now abandoned and boarded up. This milk is handled from the Holland Patent station. In 1916 the Holland Patent station was just north of the depot adjacent to the main track on the west side. This station shipped heavy at this time – 300 cans in the flush season. This station was abandoned for the lower one below the depot over the Fox Road crossing on the east side of the main track. The new station generally ships in carload lots. The old station has been torn down.
There was a station at Stittville at this time shipping 200 or more cans in flush season. This milk goes to Holland Patent also. The Stittville station has disappeared also, as well as the one at Marcy which was going in 1916. The Marcy station was not a very heavy shipper being never much more than 150 cars in flush season.
Now it can be seen that the motor-truck has caused the smaller milk stations to be abandoned and larger ones operated. The milk can be hauled farther and quicker so the smaller ones were a heavy operating expense. Milk used to be shipped in the flush of the season from Borden stations on the U. & B. to Newport on the Herkimer branch. This is now all handled by truck or otherwise at the present time.
Just let’s make a summary of the abandoned stations from Carthage to Utica. We will not include where another station the place of the one abandoned. Carthage – 1; Casterland Hole – 1; Reeds – 1; Martinsburgh – 1; Port Leyden – 1; Boonville (middle station) – 1; Alder Creek and East Steuben – 2; Barneveld – 1; Stittville – 1; Marcy – 1 – a total of 11 stations gone entirely.