Tag Archives: transportation

A Remarkable Museum

Before moving out into the “village,” we spent a fair amount of time wandering amid the wonders of the sprawling, indoor museum. One can watch the progression of technology over more than 100 years, in fields as disparate as art, transportation, farming, and food preparation. It’s truly a remarkable collection. There are wagons and coaches, more than 350 antique cars, more than a dozen airplanes, and 100 antique tractors, plus toys, sculpture, and machines for every possible task. Fabulous.

One fact I found fascinating was the extent of operations for moving freight. Before Henry and Clem Studebaker made cars, they made huge Freight Wagons, and these wagons moved a tremendous amount of goods (from trade goods to simply people moving households) along the Oregon Trail. The operation of one freight company alone — Bussell, Major, and Waddell — required 6,000 wagons and 75,000 oxen to move freight over the trail. Remarkable. And not the sort of thing one ever sees in schoolbooks.

There was a sign that explained that the buckboard wagon paralleled today’s station wagon or mini van. It could accommodate a family, but the seats could be removed to make room for grain bags or other supplies.

Having already done enough research on popcorn to know that C.C. Cretors would be a major part of my chapter on popcorn, I was delighted to see one of the early Cretors popcorn machines/wagons, with the little Tosty Rosty Man looking a bit the worse for wear, but still at his station, ready to turn the crank if the steam got turned on again.

Early Cretors Popcorn wagon

Early Cretors Popcorn wagon

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Filed under Corn, Culture, Farming, Food, History, Midwest, Midwest Maize, Travel

The View from the Bluffs

From the high bluffs that overlook the Republican River, we had a view of a broad stretch of land that was not merely picturesque but that also summed up both history and present reality for the Great Plains, and indeed for much of the rural Midwest: farms, grain elevators, trains, and water for transportation and irrigation.

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The sky was hazy with heat and dust. The wind was hot, insistent, and more than a little haunting. The sound of it coming across the prairie evoked for me tales of pioneers, early settlers, and drovers moving across the land.

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Filed under Agriculture, Culture, Farming, History, Midwest, Midwest Maize, Travel

Midwest Classic

As I traveled around the Midwest, I quickly learned that a certain sign that a town’s economy is agriculture based (and most small towns in the Midwest fall into this category) was the presence of two things, always in close proximity to each other—train tracks and grain elevators. In these photos, taken in East Lincoln, Illinois (right next to Atlanta, Illinois), the grain elevators are right at the edge of the small “downtown” area. (In fact, one can almost judge the size of the town by the number and height of the grain elevators. This is a very small town.)

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The train tracks are immediately behind them. Storage and transportation are the immutable twins of trade. Note that there is also a road, for trucks bringing corn in, with the train for transporting it out just behind it. The pipes stretching out from the towers can dump grain into a train car with astonishing speed.

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Filed under Agriculture, Corn, Farming, Food, Midwest, Midwest Maize, Travel