Greenwood Line Part 2
by Keith Meacham
From 1925 or so on, the Greenwood Line lived off the land---literally. Farming replaced Logging, and the products for and of farming became the inbound traffic. Cheese, Canned Goods, & Butter became the outbound instead of Finished wood products such as Staves; Fuel Oil, Gas, Feed, Lumber & the like became the inbound. Passenger service managed to hold on into about 1945 or so, when the Soo unceremoniously pulled off the Combine from the ends of Greenwood Line trains.
Into 1936 or thereabouts, the Trains "Homed" at Greenwood, operating to Marshfield, then down to Nekoosa and back everyday. After 1945, the Greenwood Line became a three-day-per-week operation serviced out of Stevens Point, and operated by a Local that Turned on the Greenwood Line Three days (Mon, Wed & Fri) and out to Athens 3 days (Tue, Thur & Sat.)
Around the late 1920's, early 1930's, the Soo Line had acquired the "Terminal" trackage of the Fairchild & North-Eastern Railway in Greenwood, the only other small piece of the F&N-E saved by any Railroad (Soo also kept & Operated a very Small Stretch of ex-F&N-E at Owen, the Northern terminus of the F&N-E; the last time I was in Owen the old F&N-E Depot still stood....that's about 3 years ago), when that Company finally folded. In Greenwood, this was where all the Business was; Stewart's Redville Dairy (Originally Greenwood Foods, a Canning Operation) was located on that section, Cooperative Services & their Fertz Plant (The Feedmill Portion of Cooperative Services had been The Warehouse portion of New Richmond Roller Mills, located on the F&N-E House Track, the Main Building of the N'Rich Roller Mills became the Main Building of Greenwood Milk Pool Coop), Clark Electric's Pole Yard, E.J. Crane & Sons Feed Mill, the Greenwood Milk Pool Coop, The Mid State Cheese Corp.(Where Stewart's got their start before acquiring the Greenwood Foods Buildings) and Three Fuel Oil Dealers, a Pure Dealer, a Standard Dealer and an Independent. The Greenwood Mobil Oil Dealer was located on the Soo Line House Track, off to the West of the Depot. Technically, prior to the Soo acquiring the remnant of the F&N-E, there was very little in the way of Business located directly on the Soo in Greenwood.
Forever, the Soo Line Agents (Including Dad) at Greenwood referred to the track that was obviously the F&N-E "House Track" that ran behind the F&N-E's Greenwood Depot as the, "F&NE Main" on yard checks & Switch Lists. The Soo had pulled up the Main itself shortly after acquiring the F&N-E trackage in Greenwood; in my day, only a short stub of it remained to service the Standard Oil Bulk Plant & Compound House on the East Side of State Highway 73 where the F&N-E had crossed the Highway on it's way northward to Owen. E.J. Crane, Cooperative Services' Feed Mill & Fertz Plant and Clark Electric's Pole Yard were situated on the F&N-E House Track. Stewarts, the Greenwood UBC and the Greenwood Milk Pool had their own spurs. Mid State Cheese Co. and the Independent Oil Dealer were located in front of Greenwood Milk Pool.
The Greenwood Line was somewhat of an embarrassment to the Soo Line, a thorn left over from a period of expansion that the Railroad didn't want anymore after the line unceremoniously stopped at Greenwood, and a reminder of a "Skeleton" in their Closet from the cozy WC-NP relationship in the early 1890's. Consequently, the Greenwood Line did not receive the greatest treatment---the "Ballast" under the track was Cinders. Good Ballast if kept tamped, rotten as Hell if ignored. In 1959, the Soo Line removed the Section Crew stationed at Loyal on the Greenwood Line and appended this section to the Marshfield Gang.
I will keep this in perspective: Many a short Spur such as the Greenwood Line didn't receive the greatest treatment by the Soo. The Bessemer Line is one that immediately comes to mind, esp. after the Iron Ore had played out. But the Nekoosa Line and the Stevens Point-Whiting segment of the Portage Line were kept in Far better condition than the Greenwood Line was. Both of the aforementioned Branches had business, though, that the Soo Line found much more to their liking in the Profits Department: Paper Mills.
In 1966, Soo Line, whether the Company was that Dumb or Tight-fisted (or Both), dumped "Ballast" on the Greenwood Line in the form of Fine Sand with very few pieces of actual rock, stone or pea in it, "Cull" bought Cheaply from the F.F. Mengel Ready Mix Concrete Company's Open Pit operation at Custer, Wis. With the Combination of a lack of Maintenance to a Cinder Ballasted Railroad, adding this Sand to the top and mixing it together by tamping it in would come back to haunt the Soo Line by early 1971.
Interestingly, this "Cull" was used by the Soo on Passing Sidings, Industrial Spurs and Yard Tracks in many, many places on the Railroad. It took on varying forms. Sometimes it had many pieces of Rock in it, sometimes, like that used on the Greenwood Line, almost nothing that resembled rock, stone, or otherwise, and was mostly Sand.
Although the Soo Line added this "Tid-bit" of ballasting to the Track on the Greenwood Line, the Soo never bothered to get in to Tie Replacement. That, too, came back to haunt the Greenwood Line.
Everything held up fairly well Business-wise into the mid-1960's. Consequent with the loss of the Petroleum Business around 1967, the Soo Line applied to Abandon the Greenwood Line, along with the Athens Line, in early 1970.
Interestingly, in all my research of the Greenwood Line over the years, what would appear to be a somewhat shady deal took place around the 1969-1970 time period, much to the Detriment of Traffic on the G-Line, which I came across accidentally while going through back Volumes of the Loyal-Greenwood area Newspaper, the Tribune-Record-Gleaner. I will mention no names, but the whole affair is questionable when you consider a Player in it was a Soo Line Employee, in a Position to "Know" of new business coming the Soo's way, and where it was looking at locating, AND that this person was also Mayor of Spencer at the same time.
During this time period, Wick Building Systems was looking at locating a Mobile Home Manufacturing Facility in Loyal....which would have been on the Greenwood Line. I cannot truthfully "Connect The Dots" specifically tying this individual to the reason Wick chose instead to locate their production facility in Spencer versus Loyal, I also cannot say it was the persuasion of this person to locate the Wick Facility in Spencer due this person's knowledge of things pending of the Future of the Greenwood Line at that time, but I have suspicions, having come to know the person involved, somewhat well, and a few suppositions by other folks. But all I have is suspicion, supposition and rumor, nothing more. But it does seem rather shady any way you look at it, esp. when this same person used to chide my Father that He (Dad), "shouldn't try so hard 'Out There'. The (Greenwood) Line is coming off pretty soon anyways." Let me just say such things are not out of the Realm of Possibilities and leave it at that.
Makes you wonder sometimes, considering Wick looked at Loyal First, even though the Soo Line had established the want to get off the Greenwood Line. From all accounts, Wick was quite interested in locating in Loyal no matter what the Soo Line did, or so I have been told.
What later became Artcraft Homes also looked at locating in Greenwood. They, too, located at Spencer. Make of either case what you will.
The Soo Cited Declining Business levels, which was partly true, and partly their own doing. In 1970, about a Year before Dad would Bid on & receive the Traveling Agent's Job which included the Greenwood Line, Soo Line counted these Customers: At Spokeville: Spokeville Elevator Company, inbound carloads of Beet Pulp & Barn Lime to the tune of 15 cars per year; At Loyal: Loyal Canning Company, which, considering everything inbound and loads outbound, did about 300 cars per year with the Soo; O.W. Trindal's, a large Feed Mill operation, which did about 300 cars per year business with the Soo in 1970; the Loyal United Building Centers, a remnant of the once-expansive O&N Lumber Co., which in 1970 did about 50 cars business with inbound Lumber being the largest commodity handled, followed by Bagged Cement & Mortar; Borden's, of "Elsie The Cow" national fame, which sent out about 60 cars per year of Barrel Cheese to places such as New Jersey and California from their Cold Storage Facility in Loyal, the ex-Lakeshire Cheese Company Cheese Factory; Northside Elevator Company, a Wayne Feeds dealer and operator of a Fertilizer Plant which did around 34 cars per year business with the Soo; Wolf Sawmill, who loaded out Cut Ties for Koppers Tie Creosoting Plant in Ambridge, Wis., about 25 carloads per year; Wilfahrt Sawmill, which loaded out Pulpwood the tune of 50 cars in 1970; and Weuthrich's Creamery, better known in these parts of the Country as Grassland Butter, from, actually, over near Greenwood, which loaded Refrigerator cars of Butter bound for New York on the House Track at Loyal. In 1970 Grassland loaded out 60 cars. In Greenwood: Black River Camper, recipient of 20 cars of Lumber in 1970; Cooperative Services, a Midland Cooperative operation, which between the Fertilizer, Feed Mill & Ag Lime operations got in 250 cars in 1970; E.J. Crane & Sons, another Feed Mill, that got in 30 cars of assorted feeds in 1970; Clark Electric Coop, between inbound new household Appliances and Power Poles, did 24 cars of Business with the Soo in 1970; The Greenwood UBC Lumber Yard, which did 30 cars of Business with the
Soo in 1970; Stewarts Redville Dairy, which shipped out Cheese to the amount of 20 cars in 1970, and got in around 10 cars of Pellet Salt for Cheese Making; and another Sawmill that loaded out Pulpwood from Greenwood, about 25 carloads in 1970. Add it all up; 1,278 cars moved over the Greenwood Line. The Soo Line claimed it wasn't "Enough" to pay the Bills, and wanted out.
In fact, once the Soo applied to abandon the Greenwood Line, Business DID begin to drop. Black River Camper never did any Business with the Soo Line ever again. (I should intone here about Black River Camper: This Company was in and out of the Red throughout it's existence, going Bankrupt in 1972 to emerge as Greenwood Camper, only to Struggle Along to 1975 to go under again, eventually emerging as Greenwood Homes, and, still later, Stratwood Homes--a Division of Stratford Homes-- before this firm finally succumbed in approximately 1980, but never a Rail Customer so long as Dad was Traveling Agent out on the Greenwood Line.) Soo Line turned away the Pulpwood Business after 1970 (only to have it reappear again in 1974), and Spokeville Elevator began having troubles and their carloads inbound dropped to about 10 cars total each of the next two years. In mid-1972 the Spokeville Elevator was purchased by O.W. Trindal, and most of what had gone to Spokeville was handled instead through Loyal. Grassland slacked off shipping rail a bit; from 60 cars in 1970, outbound from Grassland dropped to 52 cars, or one car per week in 1971(Where the Traffic from Grassland stayed until they gave up shipping Butter by rail). E.J. Crane dropped to a mere 3 cars per year after 1970, more, though, of a Consequence of this firm slowly going out of Business than anything the Soo Line actually did. 127 cars fewer moved over the Greenwood Line in 1971, making 1,151 cars that year.
.....to be Continued......Keith
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