Type of products iced at the Sanford Fl. Rands Yard icing facility?

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In order to better run My layout of the Sanford Fl. area in the late 1950 to early 1960 time frame,I'm asking for info on what type of perishables were processed and iced at the icing facility at Rands Yard Icing Facility at Sanford Fl.?

Thanks in advance John Hill

-- John W. Hill (john352@comcast.net), November 17, 2003


Hi! Bob and Mark In response to your respective questions:

Bob: The Rands Yard Office was in a small wooden building in white paint that was located on the south side of the yard at the east throat of the yard's car switching and storage tracks. You would have seen this building from the left side of the train if you were traveling northbound on the AutoTrain past Rands Yard.

Mark: Quite a few watermelons and cantaloupes were shipped out of Rands Yard in Sanford. Most of the melons and 'lopes were grown west of Sanford in the Mt. Plymouth and Sorrento areas of Lake County. For years, the standard shipping practice was to load the harvested melons and 'lopes into ventilated boxcars that were built for melson service. These cars had slatted sides that allowed for good cross- ventilation. A bed of hay or straw of about two feet in thickness was placed on the floor of each car to serve as a cushion, and the melons were stacked on top of each other on the straw to about 2/3 the interior height of the car. Strings of these cars would be set out on sidings for loading. The local freight between Leesburg and Sanford would pick up the loaded cars and set out some empty cars for loading. The loaded cars were brought to Rands Yard for transport to various destinations in the north and midwest. These cars did not receive any ice, but relied on the cooling effect of wind blowing through the cars as they sped along the tracks. By the mid- to late 1960's, truck trailers began to rapidly replace the ventilated boxcars as the method of shipment. The loaded trailers were brought to piggyback ramps and loaded onto the flatbed intermodal railroad cars for their trips northward. By the late 1970's, the ventilated melon cars seemed to be a thing of the past!

Sanford was once named Mellonville after Fort Mellon, an Army fort built during the Second Seminole War in the 1830's as the initial forf of a chain of forts to protect the Army's supply lines from the quartermaster's docks at Lake Monroe into the interior of central and southern Florida in the U.S. Government's effort to subdue the Seminole Indians and remove them to lands in Oklahoma. As I recall, the name "Mellon" was in honor of one of the military officers who was involved in the initial construction of the fort. Of course, this name was applied before any white settlers, or melon seeds, were in the area. Happy Thanksgiving and Best Wishes! Aaron Dowling

-- Aaron Dowling (adowling@MERandB.com), November 24, 2003.

While on the subject of Rands, I could have sworn I saw a wooden depot lettered "RANDS" while northbound on the original Auto-Train in 1974. It was located on the west side of the ex-ACL Tampa-Jax mainline. Can anyone confirm my sighting; if so, when did it come down? Happy Thanksgiving to all!

-- Bob Venditti (bobvend@bellsouth.net), November 23, 2003.

Since Sanford was once named Mellonville, I have to wonder if many mellons were shipped from here too.

Mark Kuehler

-- Mark Kuehler (qler@cfl.rr.com), November 22, 2003.

John, the # one perishable product that was iced at the facility, by a wide margin, was CELERY! Other perishables iced at the Sanford facility consisted of a wide variety of fresh produce, including cabbage, bell peppers, squash, citrus fruits, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, corn, beans, cucumbers, eggplant, watercress, etc.

Perishables were not processed at the icing facility in Sanford. Instead, the locally-grown perishables were processed and packed at packinghouses located throughout the surrounding area, and transported to the icing facility by rail (or by truck for transloading into freight cars at the icing facility) and iced on an individual basis, or re-iced by the trainload, at the icing facility.

The Sanford icing facility was located at a strategic point on the ACL, and also serviced loaded reefer cars from most of the central and southern Florida areas that were served by the ACL RR. Thus, reefer cars that were loaded with perishables from as far south as Immokalee would be be iced (or re-iced) at the Sanford facility. A similar facility was located on the SAL RR at Wildwood, FL for the same purpose.

-- Aaron Dowling (adowling@MERandB.com), November 19, 2003.

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