On the map of Cincinnati, OH from 1921 that I got from the Norfolk & Western Historical Society, I find myself starting to dig into research on specific industries and how their particular traffic might impact my choices in modeling and planning.
One of the first industries that caught my eye appears to have been located on, or reached by trackage on, the CCC&STL (Big 4, part of the New York Central Lines), and that is the Bowker Fertilizer Plant.
I hadn’t ever thought about a fertilizer plant being located in what I would consider to be an “urban” setting, but the traffic location in Cincinnati, with a potential shipping reach for supplies to make and material to sell, being able to traverse the CCC&STL, N&W, PRR, B&O and other railroads fairly quickly. Researching the Bowker company, I find it interesting that records of them as an independent company appear to end in the earlier part of the 1900’s in an embezzlement scandal that seems more 2018 than 1910. The fact that the plant still exists to be called out with track on a 1921 map is interesting to me.
Bowker was apparently fairly important in the late 1800’s in New England, and the Cincinnati plant was, from what I’ve been able to find so far, most likely their furthest reach to the West.
While researching the Bowker plant, I stumbled on and secured a copy of a photo from a different fertilizer company located in Columbus, OH. The Independent Fertilizer Packing Company appears in records from 1906 until at least 1919. The photo of the plant from 1906, supposedly along the CCC&STL (according to the source I got the photo from) shows many interesting details, including the building, the box cars ob piously behind the fence, the wooden fence, and the train over to the right.
I’m still working on selecting industries to model, but a fertilizer company would provide something interesting, especially in an urban setting. Without yet finding a photo of the Bowker plant, but having discussed operation of these kinds of industries recently with some friends, it appears that many of the buildings were similar in design from Ohio to North Carolina and on to other states. That makes me think that a ‘generic’ building, based on the IFPC plant, and labeled for Bowker, could be modeled and provide a sizable amount of traffic to model, along with a plant that would probably want sure-spots for cars to be spotted.
Along the way, I’m learning more and more about life in the 1920’s and the important industries of the time. Imagine my surprise when I discussed layout plans with another friend who models 60 or so years later in the 1900’s, to find that his prototype in the 1980’s also was still serving a fertilizer company.
I never thought I’d be modeling THAT. Now, knowing it’s a huge source of traffic, can I leave it, or the traffic to and from it, off?