Sugar Beets TT00007




09/29/01 9:55

Steve Barkley

I was raised in Billings until I left for college in 1966. Yes, the NP  hauled sugar beets, and lots of them in the Billings area. If I remember  correctly, many of the cars were Enterprise Gondolas with wooden extensions.  The NP also used hopper cars.   I seem to remember that the Burlington used many war emergency hopper cars.  Both NP and Burlington cars could easily be mixed in locals. During the  season, the NP ran locals to gather beet cars.  The beet factory in Billings used an 0-4-0 saddletank steamer. A friend of  mine and I rode with the engineer one very cold night. If I remember  correctly, the temperature was below zero. Beet cars were pushed into a  washer that washed the beets out of the car into a trough below the tracks  from where the beets went into the factory.  All the cars looked well weathered and used.  Someone on the list should have photos. I'm afraid that I do not.  Compiler  C Frissell

09/30/01 7:52

John E. Moore

The sugar beet harvest started with the first frost, usually in October.  Beets had to be harvested before the ground froze solid and they could not be  removed. The harvesting, once started went far into the night, with the  equipment being outfitted with lights. Back in the 50's the beets were haul  to sites through out the area in farm trucks with side tip beds, or if close  enough directly to the factory. A large self propelled unloader was at the  site adjacent to a rail spur, or siding, for the remote sites and at the  factory. The unloader had a long conveyor belt boom that piled the beets up  into piles about three to four stories tall, along the track. The farm trucks  would drive up onto a platform that was part of the unloader, which was also  a scale.   They were weighed and cables were attached to the truck bed, and it was  tilted to the side, into a low hopper. From there the hopper fed the conveyor  belt system. Each farmer was assigned a number by Holly Sugar which was  printed on a card taped in the truck window. This is how the various farmers  output was tallied for payment based on the ton.  The large piles of beets would be about one to two city blocks in length and  loading from those piles was accomplished by rubber tired loaders into the  railcars. This work often lasted way into December. The harvest itself was  over in a few short weeks. The farmers often ran sheep in the beets fields  after the harvest to graze on all the beet tops which had been cut by the  harvester and left laying in rows in the fields. The brought another batch of  traffic to the Yellowstone Livestock in Sidney in the form of two level Pig  Palace cars which also transported sheep to be purchased, first by the  farmer, and then later back to be resold to the meat packers. Evidently the  beet tops were quite fattening.  Sidney was located between the GN trackage coming from Fairview to the North,  and NP trackage out of Glendive. Both NP and GN stationed engines in Sidney  during the beet harvest. Since GN got out of steam before the NP I do not  remember any GN steam being there. NP in the mid-fifties had W-3 Mikes and  GP-7s and 9s stationed in Sidney. There may have even been some GP-18s later.  Nothing bigger though because the branch trackage was light in some areas.  There was no coaling facility at Sidney, but there was a standard wood water  tank, in NP buff and brown colors just south of the station, also in standard  NP colors, about one hundred yards or so. I believe the steamer when needing  coal either had to go the Glendive, fifty miles south, or it was replenished  by a small conveyor, from a pile on the ground.  The beets were shipped either in drop bottom gons. with wood side extensions,  or standard coal hoppers with a couple of boards extending the sides.  Standard practice was for a single geep or W class Mike to depart Sidney in  the early A.M. south. It would have a string of empties in tow and would head  to the various pick up points, along and off the Sidney branch main onto  other branches. At those points the loads were pulled and the empties  spotted. The same was true on the GN on the North end. The beet growing area  was confined to the Yellowstone River Valley area where irrigation water was  available from flow over dams on the Yellowstone. One was at Intake Montana,  about thirty miles south of Sidney. Beets required a lot of water while  growing. The return loads generally averaged forty to eighty cars per train.  It took two sometimes three geeps to equal the one Mike when the production  was at full peak with 100 car trains. Hooray For Steam!  The yard at Sidney was about five tracks wide by the station expanding to  seven tracks wide north of the station and past the Holly Sugar yard leads  Both the Holly tracks and the yard tracks would be full of loads and empties  at full production. Additional side trackage served grain elevators on the  East and west sides of the yard and the stockyards on the East side. Crews  were housed in their assigned caboose tacked on the engine at night. The  first RVs and campsites.  A wye track was south of the depot and on the East side of the yard tracks  now narrowing down before becoming a single track mainline. With the demise  of steam the Yellowstone Livestock now occupies the wye, using it to load and  unload. Remember I'm talking in the 1950s and 60s here now.   The Holly Sugar yard was about 8 to 10 tracks curving off to the East from  the railyard with one or two approach tracks to the yard. I seem to remember  two. Switching was done by a small either 0-4-0T or 0-6-0T steamer, which is  now on display in the Sidney Park on Main Street.  The little engine would latch onto two to three cars at a time, and in a  concert of sharp barking exhaust, steam, and slipping drivers, shove them up  an incline to the covered unloading facility. There the beets were unloaded  by large guided streams of water through the bottom of the gons or hoppers.  That is why only drop bottom gons were used. The water unloading started the  washing process and in the sub zero Montana winters (read 20 to 50 degrees  below zero) thawed frozen loads. Needless to say the area was full of steam,  slippery and treacherous if you didn't watch your footing. From the unloader  the beets traveled in concrete lined ditches several feet wide and 3 to 4  feet deep in flowing water. For 50 to 75 pound beets they floated well.  reaching to factory they were sliced and diced, and lime was added to  precipitate the dirt out. From there they went into the cookers to boil out  the sugar in a thick molasses, from which the white table sugar was  extracted. On the North side of the plant was the warehouse where shipping  was by 40 and 50 foot boxcars.   Loads in would be hopper cars of coke and limestone in about twenty car cuts  and the empties out. Boxcars of other supplies to keep the factory going, and  the occasional equipment flat or gon. By products of the factory were beet  pulp and the molasses after the sugar extraction, both used as cattle feed  additives. Again tank cars and trucks for molasses and the boxcar, later  covered hopper for the pulp. The dried beet pulp was a dark brown color and  resembled dried Lipton tea that you get in the bulk loose tea boxes at the  store. By about November there was a steady stream of cars loads coming out,  all brought to the pick up tracks by the little hard working steam kettle.  The factory could be seen for miles in the valley due to the large clouds of  steam constantly over the site and the air could be compared to Hershey, PA  with the sweet smell pervading. By February the plant was slowing down as the  last of the stock piles from the valley were being delivered. he plant itself  had at eat three large stock piles of beets that were three to four city  blocks long from the deliveries made direct to the plant by the beet farmers  close enough to do so. Front end loaders transferred beets from these piles  into a low concrete hopper at the elevated railcars unloading site where they  floated to the plant. A large man made lake known as Factory Lake sat to the  east of the plant. The large amounts of water needed were withdrawn from that  lake, and water was returned to the lake from the factory. The lake had some  of the largest Carp in it I can remember due to the discharge of plant and  other food tidbits from the beet washing. The marshes adjacent to the lake  also grew some of the largest Mesquitos I can remember due to the large  influx of warm water keeping the lake warm and unfrozen in all but the  coldest periods. You stood still too long by the lake and you would need a  blood transfusion.  With the fall livestock shipments, the sheep shipments in the early and late  winter, the grain harvest rush (you had two per year, one from the winter  wheat harvest, the other from the regular fall wheat harvest) the start of  the beet season, and the usual farm equipment, etc., shipments, you had one  busy little yard. Add to that the shipments of coal to the MDU power plant  south of town and it was busy. Now you know why my modeling era will always  be the fall season.  This heavy traffic kept the mainline from Glendive well maintained and  heavier than normal track for a branch, which is why this line is being  looked at as a coal traffic line between the former NP at Glendive through to  the former GN main.  M of W requirements in that era kept a crew permanently stationed in Sidney  with their speeder sheds and other out building located close to the water  tank to the south of the depot. Every so often a cut of camp cars and other  equipment would be parked in the yard.  Passenger service was a gas electric known as the Goose, because its rear  waddled back and forth as it went down the track. This made two trips daily  into Sidney. A way freight both GN and NP originated out of Sidney to go to  all the smaller branches off the line. Most of these towns only had one sign,  you have entered on one side and left on the other depending on which side  you stood on looking at the sign. Populations of these towns ranged from 40  to 300 at best. Sidney was about 10,000 and the Richland County seat. It  could best be described as a place that had two saloons or bars per block and  the sidewalks rolled up at night, except in front of the saloons. The same  description would fit the other towns with one or two grain elevators, a  small station, and a livestock ramp and pens, also usually a ramp and dock  for unloading flats. the towns would have one or two churches and a few  stores. The post office/gas station/grocery stores are found there typically.  if these little towns were in the irrigated valley area you would often find  the beet loading equipment there.  Holly Sugar only employed less than forty people year round, mainly in  shipping and mechanics to maintain and repair the plant, and in a several  story brick office bldg. in admin. jobs. The rest of the workers were  seasonal workers, often farm hands who came back year after year to work the  sugar season.  As a kid I used to ride my bike down to the railyard and to the Holly plant  and to the lake to fish. One of my fondest memories is of the little steamer  at the plant and a friendly NP Engineer who gave a kid a cab ride in that big  black monster forever hooking me on things NP, Trains, and the Fall Season.  Things were different back then and I could ride my bike all around the plant  and railyards. Later in High School when the little Norwegian Chemistry  Teacher took us on a tour of the plant, and its laboratory I was no stranger  to the operation and could have given the tour.  Compiler  C Frissell

09/30/01 9:40

Dan Stinson

Ayvini - Thanks for the most informative post! You've brought back a lot of memories. I know there were sugar plants in Sidney, Billings and Hardin. Where else were there plants? And were they all Holly Sugar? I have always thought of the Billings plant as being Great Western Sugar Company, but was that a later owner?  I've also heard stories that the tall concrete stack in Whitehall was to be for a sugar refinery, but the company found out there wasn't enough sugar beet production in the area because the growing season wasn't long enough, so they stopped construction before the building was built. Has anyone else ever heard this, and does anyone know the details?  Compiler  C Frissell

09/30/01 13:23

Don Hoffman

When I lived in Billings, 1965-1980, Great Western was the operator of the sugar plant. I believe they also built it. I remember the many gondolas and the small engine that worked them along with the many local producers who trucked there beets to the plant and loaded the processing waste on their truck to take home for feed. This "feed" was still wet and dripped on the streets of Billings and the hiways going back home. Some even had loaded this when the temperature was warm in Billings and then the load froze on the way home. What a mess. to follow. A lot of steam and it did smell, not sure if I would call it sweet. Drove by the plant on my way to work many times before I learned to avoid it as the steam sometimes left a sticky residue on the car. The one in Hardin, if my senior memory recalls, was operated by Holly. I understand that there is talk to re-open the Hardin plant.  I remember that just north of the Missouri river near Toston, Montana there was a large sugar beet dump and loading site and as I learned on my past trip to Montana there was one at then Young's Point which is now known as Park City just west of Billings. I would suspect that sugar beets may have been grown in the Gallatin Valley. And further east of Billings until the water supply became a problem for irrigation. Most of the area sugar beet farmers were of German/Russian decent as this was a crop grown in southern Russia from whence many came.  Looks like Mr. Phillips III could have a story for the Mainstreeter brewing about the NP and it influence and participation of the sugar production in Montana and the west.  Compiler  C Frissell

09/30/01 14:21

John E. Moore

In a message dated 9/30/2001 11:58:29 AM Eastern Daylight Time, dano@m...  writes:  > I've also heard stories that the tall concrete stack in Whitehall was to be > for a sugar refinery, but the company found out there wasn't enough sugar > beet production in the area because the growing season wasn't long enough  I believe the Billings operation was always Great Western. Irrigation was the  key to sugar beets and there isn't that much difference between where I grew  up and the southern end as far as temperature and length of season. I also  spent a few years in Whitehall and actually went to the old grade school  there. We then moved to Richland County on the eastern side of the state. I  still remember the old school with its neat silo type fire escape and slide  that circled around inside. I used to go up on what is called Pump Hill to  play. Full of cactus as I remember. I lived in a log house about one block  from the old school for a while then on the South side of the tracks about  two blocks away. Whitehall was where I saw my first Yellowstone in helper  service to shove over the divide to Butte. That was the old Butte with its  streets caving in from old mine shafts underneath. Actually Whitehall should  have been nearly ideal for beets due to the amount of moisture received there.  I was told about forty-seven years ago now that the tall stack was once part  of an old meat packing plant. Which would make sense since there were a  number of attempts to break the Kansas City and Chicago meat monopolies.  There used to be another near Medora, ND that I believe Teddy Roosevelt was  involved in.  Compiler  C Frissell

09/30/01 16:30

Don Hoffman

Great Western Sugar Factory  [Extracted from Original Title Abstracts and Billings Gazette 24 September, 1960]  Revised 24 October 2000c    In 1883, the town of Billings established an irrigation system and a created the ability to eliminate 'crop rotation' in the fields, and the sugar beet industry was created. On March 14, 1905, articles of incorporation were filed by I. D. O'Donnell, Col. H. W. Rowley, P. B. Moss, & M. A. Arnold of Billings, and F. M. Shaw, a non-resident and sugar specialist. The charter called for the creation of land plats for homes, methods for collection of money, and other business enterprises. Many home site restrictions were created. A construction contract for the factory was issued that month, and 5,500 acres of land were contracted to grow beets. The investors raised $750,000 for machinery to process the beets. Beets were originally topped in the field by hand, and the local school children vied for a job. Later the entire beet growing operation was mechanized. In 1932, the plant built a new chimney, a new generator, boiler, dryer and storage bins added the next year. Carbonation and filtering stations were added in 1934. In 1937 the boilers were replaced. Unit gas heaters and packaging equipment were added in 1949. The factory had only one job that was listed as 'dangerous', the shoveling of sugar in the storage bin tops. Sugar doesn't flow, and piles up in high mounds; it also will not support the weight of a person, and acts much like 'quick-sand'. The shoveler was suspended by a harness from the top of the bins, and he shoveled the sugar out flat, thus permitting more to be stored in the bins. To reach the top of the bins, one had to ride a vertical leather belt tram that was in continuous movement. The belt had small hardwood steps, about 4" x 16" attached to it every three feet. One grabbed the smooth surface of one step, and placed their feet on the second one, holding on real tightly as you ascended-or descended.  Beets from the waiting area were first transported up a ramp and into a hopper on the second floor where they were initially sliced for the first processing operation. The slicer was a reel-wheel with numerous cutting blades, approximately 10 feet in diameter, attached. Beets have a tendency to stick to the hopper sides, and had to be cleaned off the walls. This was performed by three or four persons who were given wooden sticks to push the beets from the sides before the cutting blades interfered with the pushing operation. Timing was tricky, and most of these people used their hands instead. Most had lost one or more fingers as a result. By definition, this was not considered to be a dangerous job. All mechanical operations were performed by a series of leather belts, from one central drive unit.  In 1906 the factory was nearly complete, and processed 55,000 tons of beets, making 161,000 bags of sugar. The initial production rate of 712 tons of beets processed per day had been increased to over five times that amount, making this factory the largest producer in the world for many years. From 1906 to 1960 the factory produced some 4 billion pounds of sugar. Edmund Schunter was founding manager, with Fritz Schunter as superintendent the first year. They were succeeded the next year by W. S. Garnsey, Jr., and E. F. (Doc) Ogburn. Great Western took over the factory on April 27, 1918.  In 1906 the factory bought $50,000 worth of cattle and sheep to fatten them on the silage waste pulp. Other local ranchers saw no value to use beet pulp for this purpose, or for that matter, even to raise beets. They quickly reversed their thinking after seeing the results. Within five years beets were being transported from northern Wyoming, and the land holdings had grown to 15, 694 acres.  Compiler  C Frissell

09/30/01 16:45

Jim Woodward

Yes, Whitehall did, and probably still does, have a tall, steel  reinforced concrete stack, originally built in conjuction with a plan to build a sugar refinery there. The street leading to that part of town is known as Sugar Beet Road. Although I don't think the sugar plant ever really got going, I believe the stack is still there.   By the early 1950s all that remained was the stack. Some farmers in  the Jefferson Valley between Whitehall and Twin Bridges still grew  sugar beets in the 50s, although not in huge quantities.  Occasionally in the 50s and 60s, (and maybe still today) some high  school students, or others with time on their hands, would pile old  tires in the base of the stack and burn them, resulting in smoke  emanations. To the best of my knowledge, that's the only type of  smoke that has ever come from the top of the stack.  The stack was stoutly constructed. It survived the Yellowstone-Hebgen earthquake in August 1959, when a lot of masonry  structures around town crumbled (or at least cracked). Someone once  told me it would take a lot of dynamite to take it down, so it will  probably remain for some time. Compiler  C Frissell

09/30/01 23:38

Dan Stinson

Don pondered, "I would suspect that sugar beets may have been grown in the Gallatin Valley."  I don't ever remember seeing or hearing of beets being grown in the Gallatin valley when I was growing up in Bozeman. But I do remember there were large fields of them for miles on both sides of Toston. They were watered by the Crow Creek Project which lifted water for irrigation out of the Missouri at Toston dam and allowed for irrigated crops on much of that ground. Yep, I sure remember seeing those beet trucks at harvest time when I'd go to Helena. They ran back and forth from the fields to the beet dump and scales all day and well into the night. I remember the beet dump being on the west (north?) end of the overpass at Toston, where the grain / seed bins are now.   Compiler  C Frissell

10/02/01 0:37

John Barrows

Re: Sugar Beets on the NP  Wow... excellent exchange and such good information! I remember as a boy my Dad and I would go to Sidney (1960ish) and watch the sugar beet factory crew switch cars with a small tank engine (0-4-0 Porter c. 1884, made for the Milwaukee originally. The engine is still in the Sidney park. It had been chopped down from a standard switch engine and made a tanker. The crew even let this 14 year old pitch a few scoops in the box... some fun for a young railfan.  Hamilton also has a stack, similar to Whitehall, with the same explanation... great plans gone bad. Missoula had a substantial plant, out by Reserve Street and part of it has been converted for other businesses. It was operating into the 1960s... and was the site of the last revenue steam on the NP... at least I think so, the 1361, and was featured in Trains magazinage about that time (1960).  When I worked on the NP in the mid 1960s as an agent-telegrapher, sugar beets were still big business in the Bitterroot, with solid beet trains not being uncommon.... many of them loading at the Victor station. Even after the Missoula mill closed, beets for a number of years were sent to Billings/Hardin... I remember doing a story on one of the last rail shipments for the Ravalli Republic newspaper sometime in mid 1970s I think.  If memory serves me right, one day, while I was working at Missoula Yard, we cleared up orders for a work extra, a beet train and a stock special... Grand Central Station!  Again, great exchange... it sure brings back a lot of memories and fills in some blank spots, too.   Compiler  C Frissell

10/02/01 19:15

Norm Metcalf

A Burlington Bulletin a while back covered CBQ/CS sugar beet operations, including material on sugar beets in Montana.  Compiler  C Frissell

10/12/01 17:31

Bill Seeberger

You need to call my father Nick Seeberger in Glendive MT he worked the beet job in Sidney many years and can answer all your questions his number is 406-365-3180  Compiler  C Frissell

10/12/01 23:07

Jim Fredrickson

U and I Sugar had a big plant at Scalley on the Washington Central Branch. Sugar beets were loaded at various central Washington locations and from about the end of July to November gons and hoppers were taken from company gravel service to fill the need for cars.  When the government discontinued subsidies the plant was closed.  Compiler  C Frissell

10/21/01 9:04

Verne Alexander

I just ran across a picture in the January 1947 Trains of sugar beets being loaded on Bass Siding on the Bitteroot branch that ran down to Darby. Trucks were dumping the beets into a hopper, from which they rode a conveyor into another hopper on a tower, and then over a second conveyor that dropped them into a gondola with wood side extensions. No date was given. The reproduction is of poor quality, so I can't read any of the letters or numbers on the gon. A string of gons down the track looks as though the cars had no end extensions, which makes no sense to me at all. Compiler  C Frissell

10/22/01 9:57

Jim Betz

I don't remember seeing the beet gons on the NP (if I did I was too young to pay attention - if I did see them it would have been around Moses Lake in the late 50's). But I have definitely seen them on the SP/UP here in  Cowafornicatia and they do have end boards. And the end boards are not "removable" as far as I can tell - so I don't think that what you are seeing is some kind of "put them back in place during the loading" thing (although it could be). I can tell you this - the beet loads are loaded to a level that would be called "level with the top of the boards". If you were loading the cars from the center only without moving them then the end boards would not be needed - but here in Cal Central the cars are moved by a cable puller during loading to get the maximum load possible.  An interesting side question is "were the beet gons used for other loads at other times of the year?" - I have seen long cuts of beet gons just  sitting on various sidings during the "off season" but that doesn't mean that they weren't used at all ..Compiler  C Frissell

11/03/01 18:45

Bob McCoy

For those who followed the recent postings on Montana sugar beet loading, the August photograph in the 2002 calendar might be of interest. The subject is No. 2 at the Ravalli depot. To the right and behind the depot is shown a portion of a sugar beet loader. From this, it would appear that Ravalli was a sugar beet shipping point in the late 1940s.  Compiler  C Frissell

11/27/01 15:14

Blair Kooistra

I have copies of several Walla Walla Union-Bulletin newspaper  clippings about sugar beet harvest in the Walla Walla Valley. It  seems that through the late 50s and into the 60s as many as 3000 cars  a "campaign" were shipped out by UP and WWV (NP) en route to U&I  Sugar's Moses Lake factory.  UP loaded their beets at Touchet; WWV at Zigman, between Stateline  and College Place, and on the branch at Baker-Langdon. WWV would ship  between 1400-1800 loads of beets a year--at the time, about 20-30% of  their total tonnage.  The articles state that UP cars would hold about 40 tons of sugar  beets; NP cars could hold 50 tons.  I assume UP just used standard GS gondolas with no side extensions.  NP also used GS gons, I'd imagine, but were they unaltered GS gons,  or were they outfitted with side racks? Could they have used any of  the converted woodchip cars, or were these in woodchip service only.  Online research states that both Toppenish and Moses Lake factories  closed down, along with almost all the other U&I factories, in 1978.  Did the NP (WWV) beet haul last that long?  Compiler  C Frissell

11/27/01 19:14

David Lehlbach

Blair, I have documentation of beet blocks moving EB on the ex-NP through MT headed to a processing facility in Laurel (GW) in 1974. I haven't found billing for the empty cars yet, but I am pretty sure these loads came from your neck of the woods. The loads moved in company ballast cars and old open hoppers. Again, this was BN era (1974 to be exact), so may not necessarily be applicable to your modeling period. Compiler  C Frissell

11/28/01 12:13

James C Dick

Blair Kooistra - wallcloud@m... wrote: from clippings from Walla-Walla Union-Bulletin, The articles state that UP cars would hold about  40 tons of sugar beets; NP cars could hold 50 tons. NP also used GS gons, I'd imagine, but were they  unaltered GS gons, or were they outfitted with  side racks?   Blair, (and others) here is some information that may provide answers to SOME of your questions.  (From Pres. Sub. Files ) Letter to C.E.Denny St.Paul,Minn. Sept 14,1946  Mr.C.E. Denny Your letter of the 13th // with Mr.Berglund about using Hart convertible cars in sugar beet loading: As has been our practice heretofore, we plan to  assign the several types of open top car equipment to best economic advantage considering the situation as a whole and our program was set up some time ago. We estimate racking about 535 50-ton drop door door type gons plus the Harts and other open type equipment which can be used to advantage in this  movement will take care of the present crop. We do not propose to assign all 70-ton Hart cars which can be taken out of ballast service for  handling sugar beets as part of them will make money handling Rosebud Coal. It costs about $3.50 to apply the racks to a  50-ton gondola and the racked car has a cubical  capacity level of 2735 as compared with 2505 for the Hart selective. If all the Hart cars are put into the sugar beet movement, we will have to use 50-ton drop bottom gondolas for handling rosebud coal for hauls up to one thousand miles. (unable to decipher signature)  Another letter of May 17th, 1954 lists that "during  the sugar beet season all types of open top equipment will be in service and active demand. Our 50-ton Hart cars formerly used for company service such as  emergency gravel, scrap, ties, and supply train  operations have practically disapeared and older  type must be used for this purpose."  The use of gondola cars in the coal-vs- ballast line usage -vs- sugar beet needs were noted as early as 1924. The summer season in these Northern states is a very finite time period so  ballast usage in track maintenance was a very high priority for these cars in the summer. Of course,  in the fall came orders for coal delivery and the  sugar beet harvest at the same time.  Compiler  C Frissell

11/30/01 22:25

Jon Bratt

I wish we could get Warren McGee on this list. I am modeling Laurel Mt yard and the main west to Mission wye, then up the Shields river branch to Wilsall. Also south from Laurel to Red Lodge and the connection to the Montana Wyoming & Southern at Belfry. So I rely on Mr. McGee a lot as he actually worked these lines. I spoke with him tonight and asked him about sugar beet traffic as all the talk on the list had me wondering if this took place near Laurel. I report that the Livingston to Laurel local would pick up loaded drop bottom gons at Columbus, Youngs Point and Park City on the eastbound trip and deliver them to the Laurel yard for delivery to the plant in Billings. Mr McGee reports this traffic was heaviest in Sept into Oct and Nov. I am near to laying out the towns of Greycliff and Big Timber on my layout and could really use track diagrams. Does anyone out there have them or know where I could find them. I would love to correspond with anyone with knowledge of or interest in this area. And you would be more than welcome at work sessions and eventually operating sessions on the layout. Please contact me off list.  Compiler  C Frissell

11/21/02 1:31

John Phillips

Within the past 12 months there was a very nice discussion on the  Northern Pacific and sugar beet traffic. Recently, I purchased a  1966 issue of _Pacific Northwest Quarterly_, which featured a brief  article on the Utah and Idaho Sugar Company's works in Washington.   I was very surprised to learn, and I hope Al Currier and Roger  Burrows are as well, that from the early 1930s through about 1941 U  and I operated a beet refining plant on the outskirts of Bellingham,  Washington. In addition to recruiting farmers in the Mount Vernon to  Bellingham corridor, U and I also brought in beets from the Yakima  Valley.  At various times prior to World War One U and I operated plants in  North Yakima, Sunnyside, and (twice) Toppenish. I presume, though I  yet to see any proof, that U and I must have moved beets from the  dry side to the Bellingham facility (as stated in the article) via  the NP.  Does anyone have any information on pre-World War Two beet traffic  on the NP? I would suppose this traffic was hauled in gons, with or  without side extensions. Comments solicited.  Compiler  C Frissell

11/21/02 11:03

Al Currier

I appreciate your note on the Bellingham sugar beet facility, John. I have  written a detailed historical article on the refinery, published in the  Bellingham Business Journal. The refinery was served by the Great Northern  and I believe photos show the beets arriving in GN gondolas. I'll double  check my sources, as it has been about 3 years since I wrote the article. My  first impression is to to doubt that the beets arrived in Bellingham on the  NP.   I can't remember if Bellingham was an official interchange point for NP/GN.  Even if it was, the interchange would have been awkward due to track  arrangements. However, I have verbal accounts of NP in later years carrying  traffic in and out of Bellingham from industries located on both Milwaukee  and GN.   I will be glad to post further info after I've checked, and I'd be glad to  provide any information I can on the Bellingham U&I facility. Interested  persons can either post on the list or contact me off list. The smokestack  still stands as a landmark, as done one small building of the complex. The  BNSF currently serves industries located where the refinery used to stand.  Compiler  C Frissell

11/21/02 13:24

Marc Entze

I do not know if the early beet traffic in the Walla Walla Valley  was directly related with U&I or not, but certainly it was in later  years. I have uncovered research that shows the Walla Walla Valley  Ry handled sugar beet loads as early as the late 1920s, presumably  from the stateline area of Washington and Oregon. At this date, it  was but a few carloads, and amounted to perhaps 100 cars per year by  the early 1930s. The apple industry went great-guns in the teens  and twenties, but saturated the market and taxed the transportation  of both the WWV and Union Pacific, thus in part initiating the  alternate crops of which sugar beets were one. Several orchards  were cut down to grow crops for canning (asparagus, peas) as well as  sugar beets.   As for the type of cars in use initially, one early source mentioned  something to the effect of "special company cars with drop  bottoms." So gondolas of some variety. I do not have my research  material here in Cheney....   The beet industry in the Walla Walla Valley exploded in the late  1930s and during WWII. Acreage doubled for consecutive years. By  the mid-50s this amounted to as many as 1500 cars per year on the  WWV-NP and several hundred more on the UP (UP's traffic was  originated along the Wallula branch, principally in the Lowden and  Touchet areas). By far the majority of the beets were grown in the  Stateline area and moved out via the WWV-NP. Compiler  C Frissell

11/21/02 17:55

Roger Beckett

I was in Walla Walla/College Place in the late 50's and beets on the WWV were still a big deal. Two trains a day all in NP drop bottom gons as I recall. UP was still loading in the Louden area. Compiler  C Frissell

11/22/02 18:56

Michael Seitz

Numerous photos show GS (no extensions) gons used to ship beets from the Bitterroot Valley to the American Crystal Sugar refinery in Missoula. Another photo (I can't quote the source--Frey and Schrenk's book series? but I believe it was a derailment at Warm Springs in the '50's) indicates the train ran into the siding and struck a string of hopper cars loaded with sugar beets. Perhaps hopper cars were preferred on longer line hauls or for faster transit speeds.  Compiler  C Frissell