Friday, March 28, 2014

Turner UniDrive Company

Industry Review continues with a look at spot #342, the Turner UniDrive Company.

The building's physical location corresponds with the one identified on the 1972 track diagram as spot #342, but the industry list shows that spot as "Open".  I presume that's the Frisco's way of saying we don't provide service there any more.

According to the company's history, they've been in this location since 1940.  The business line is industrial gearboxes and transmissions.  In the early years, it is quite conceivable that they received raw stock for machining by rail.  Trucking probably later took over this raw materials delivery, but it's also plausible that rail was still viable for some specialized inbound component or outbound finished assemblies.

The overview shot of the Terrace St. side of the building above reveals where the three rail served dock spots were located and these close-up shots show the detail of the brick work:


The building is built into the hillside and a basement level is accessible from around the south end of the structure:



One certainly gets a feel for the grades involved on this spur -- The main Fairgrounds branch track is just out of view to the left of the photo above and sits about three feet lower at this point.  The upper level track following Terrace St. was immediately to the right of this building and ten feet higher.  These two tracks joined together about four-hundred feet south of where this photo was taken.

I'll close with a few detail shots showing the special brickwork on this structure and the fact that at the southern tip, it isn't very wide.


One final shot showing the relative location of this property to its neighbors.  The docks in the foreground are the remains of an oil dealer that used to have tanks at the upper left (along Terrace St.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Motor Parts Distributors

Industry Review continues with a look at spot #336, Motor Parts Distributors.  A relatively new business in my intended era, having been registered in October 1961.  Prior to that Columbia Bedding was located here according to the most current Sanborn Maps as 3321 Roanoke Rd.  When Motor Parts Distributed was incorporated, the address was listed as 3331 Roanoke Rd., and as of the current day, the property is listed as being at 3300 Terrace St.  Motor Parts Distributors was out of business by August 1994.

We'll start with an overview of the cluster of buildings along the tracks here.  Motor Parts Distributors was the curving building at the far end.

Zooming in on that final building reveals some ornate concrete details along the top and clearly displays the curved nature of the structure.

I captured some closeup shots of the painted signage on the building.


After studying the track diagram, the Sanborn Map and the GIS data, and the following modern aerial photo, the property also consists of two structures on the upper level closer to Terrace St.

The northernmost (upper) building visible from above is a brick affair built into a just above the hillside.


The Quonset hut structure between the two is apparently connected to the second floor of the lower building and was likely used for some amount of shipping or receiving.  Note the "MPD" lettering that's still on the building to the right of the door.

The Frisco industry diagram shows active rail spots at both the lower doors on the main brick structure as well as the upper dock on the Quonset hut structure (separately listed as spot #336-1).

Unfortunately, since this company was dissolved prior to the dawn of the internet, there's very little information available online.  I was able to track a couple of links to the business owner (RICHARD F. MILLARD, JR) and saw that they were specifically hiring a woman (!) in 1974 for general office work, but that's about the extent of it.

Perhaps further research can be conducted at the local library.  Until then, I'll have to go with conjecture and assume that various carloads of auto parts were received at this location for local distribution.  Considering that having "distributor" in it's name and based on the relatively small size of the facility it is quite unlikely to have been involved in the production of automotive components, though there are major plants in the metro area for both Ford (Claycomo) and GM (Fairfax).

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Paper Supply Company

Industry Review continues with a look at spot #306, the Paper Supply Company.  The main building was a four story brick affair, plus there was an single story warehouse extension of the building to the south.

According to a 1961 article in the Kansas City Star, the Paper Supply Company moved into this location in October of that year.  Immediately prior to that the Thompson-Hayward Chemical Company was located here since 1917 or so.  It is not surprising that THCC moved out of this location and dissolved their operation here since they just suffered an industrial accident in April of 1959.



Paper Supply operated as a mill agent and distributor of printing, industrial, and specialty papers.  According to this source, there are documents on file for the 1980 purchase of Standard Paper and another transaction involving CDA Papers in 1986, so it's reasonable to assume that the company remained strong.  It shouldn't require any stretch of reality to spot several boxcars of paper on their spur during my intended modeling period.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Pacific Mutual Door Company

Industry Review continues with a look at spot #326, the Pacific Mutual Door Company.  According to the abbreviated history their website, this location was established in 1952 when the company rebuilt their local operations following the floods of 1951.

Aerial views in 1959 and 1969 show what appears to be a single boxcar spotted at the facility.  Commodities would likely be inbound lumber for the millwork department or plate glass for inclusion in windows.   Perhaps in later years, some windows or doors were received directly as they expanded into a role of local distributor for national brands.

Historic Aerials has a long gap in coverage, and by 2006, the tracks are gone.  I particularly like this view along with the street view one that shows the spur elevated above the climbing right-of-way.

This elevation change means that this will be a signature scene.

There were four direct rail doors and the rear portion of the building was set back slightly to accomodate an outdoor dock.