Operations #2: Belton Ice Company

Discussion in 'Operations' started by Karl, Jul 15, 2010.

  1. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Frisco.org Supporter

    This example is hardly a major operation, but it does pose one that could be modified to fit in a variety of model operations. Eli Wilhite established the Belton Ice Company during 1924. He located his business on the KCCS at Chestnut Street. During the early years, ice was shipped by rail to his plant from Olathe, KS. Ice was sold to distributors in Raymore, Peculiar, Freeman, and Grandview. Eventually, Wilhite installed the necessary equipment, which allowed him to produce enough ice to meet area’s needs; rail-delivered ice operations ceased. The installation of ice-producing equipment may have occurred when the KCCS was severed between Stanley and Belton.

    Wilhite exhibited some out-of-the-box thinking to help his cash flow during the slower winter months. The ice storage rooms were used to store apples, which were delivered from Washington-state and Colorado. These were sold to independent, area grocers.

    Perhaps, the KCCS employed a handful of wood reefers, which bounced between Olathe and Belton on daily basis. Given the nature of the cargo, the cars would not need icing facilities… more cars and greater frequency during the summer, and of course fewer cars and fewer trips during the winter.

    Likewise, we can assume that the apples arrived in wood reefers.

    In my view, this is an unique operation worthy of being replicated in miniature.
  2. FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018)

    FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018) Passed Away April 12, 2018 Frisco.org Supporter

    Thanks Karl!

    This is exactly the kind of example that I envisioned.

    More please!
  3. The KCC&S was formally acquired by the Frisco, after a long period of "unofficial" control, in Dec. 1924, and formally merged in Dec. 1925. The 1925 Official Railway Equipment Register has no entry for the KCC&S, and lists the ragged remnants of the KCC&S's roster -- seven cabooses and 40 "special service" ballast cars -- under the name of the SL&SF. The track between Belton and Olathe was severed in 1928, so the Olathe-Belton ice shipments would have been a fairly short-lived operation. Still, potentially an interesting one for period modelers.

    If we assume the entire move was on KCC&S/Frisco rails, then it's likely that any Olathe-Belton ice traffic moved in homeroad cars, which almost certainly meant SLSF even before the formal merger. The KCC&S hadn't owned any freight equipment but gondolas and flatcars for years. It is also possible that AT&SF cars might have been used if the ice plant in Olathe was on the AT&SF and switched by the latter road, or that the Belton Ice Co. could have leased rolling stock from a private car-leasing company like Merchants Dispatch. The Belton Ice Co. does not appear to have owned any private cars in its own name, according to the listings in the 1925, 1930 and 1935 Official Railway Equipment Registers.

    The 1925 ORER indicates that the Frisco at that time owned 98 ice cars which were presumably used for ice and/or beer traffic throughout the system (see below).

    Master Car Builders Association designation: RB
    Class.: StL&SF, Ice
    Numbers: 3429; 3501-3649
    Inside Length: 34
    Inside Width: 8-6
    Inside Height: 7
    Outside Length: 34-7.5
    Outside Width at Eaves or Platform: 10
    Outside Height from Rail to Eaves: 11-5
    Outside Height from Rail to Top of Platform or Running Board : 12-5
    Outside Height from Rail to Overall: 13-11
    Doors: Side : Width : 5-6
    Doors: Side : Height : 6-8
    Capacity: Cubic Feet Level Full : 2023
    Capacity: Pounds or Gallons : 60000 lb
    No.: 1 [Car 3429] + 97 [3501-3649] [Two separate reporting lines in original].

    This data taken from ORERs digitized on CD by Al Westerfield.

    The 1913 report of the proceedings of the MCB defines type RB as a "Beer and Ice Refrigerator. A car with body and doors equipped with insulation, having no ice tanks or ventilating devices."

    Karl, is there any indication how the Belton Ice Co. moved its product from Belton to its retail distributors in Raymore, Peculiar, Freeman, and Grandview? At the time, these locations were served by rail, but with improved roads and trucks available, road transport may have been the preferred option for local delivery even where rail was an option. If the outbound ice did move by rail, I suggest it would have followed the following routings, based on the 1926 Official Guide.

    Belton to Raymore: SLSF Osceola subdivision (ex-KCC&S or "Leaky Roof" track, aband. 1934).
    Belton to Peculiar : SLSF Clinton subdivision ("High Line")
    Belton to Grandview: SLSF Clinton subdivision.
    Belton to Freeman : SLSF Clinton subdivision to Harrisonville, thence interchanged to the MKT's Holden division's daily mixed train between Sedalia and Paola, KS. (This line aband. 1958.) The ex-KCC&S Osceola sub also went through Harrisonville, but SLSF policy seems to have been to prefer routing via the Clinton subdivision whenever possible.

    As I understand the car service rules of the time, shippers on SLSF rails in Belton would typically have been supplied with SLSF cars unless they supplied their own, or unless the Belton stationmaster happened to have a suitable foreign-road empty on hand that he could load up and send toward its owner's rails via one of these destinations.

    The apples, of course, could have arrived in cars belonging to any road serving the area where they were grown, or to a private leasing company.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 15, 2010
  4. The 1928 ICC judgement permitting abandonment of service between Olathe and Belton, posted at Mike Good's Railroads of Henry County website, makes for interesting reading as background to this discussion, although it does not specifically mention ice shipments.

  5. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Frisco.org Supporter

    Thanks for the data on the ice cars. That fills the information with regard to what cars may have been used in this service. Indeed, the Olathe-Belton service was short-lived, but I believe that apple distribution lasted longer, and it was routed via the Highline

    The Belton Ice Company was not a large operation, and it's depicted in the attached public domain image, which was taken during 1924. The former KCCS track can be seen in the foreground. The article doesn't mention how the ice was shipped outbound from Belton, but I suspect that it went by truck since the quantities wouldn't justify rail shipment.

    Attached Files:

  6. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Karl and Brad -
    EXCELLENT information. I am already eager to incorporate this into operations on my Northern Div., where I've imagineered the KCCS to stay in operation between Olathe (to be modeled) and Belton (not to be modeled).

    Karl, do you have any information on where the ice originated in Olathe during this time?

    Best Regards,
  7. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Frisco.org Supporter

  8. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Karl, looks like a pretty accurate WAG. Another map to add to my Northern Division layout binder.

    Do you (or any other KC area folk: Mark D., R-Mac.?) know the approximate location of City Ice & Cold Storage? This seems like a great candidate to add to our 1:87 representation of Olathe.

    Best Regards,
  9. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Frisco.org Supporter


    I would place City Ice & Cold Storage in the neighborhood of Loula & Blake.

Share This Page