Back When: Remembering the original Carbondale stockyards

By Glen D. Norton

When I was a young boy livestock was driven to the stockyards to be shipped by rail, and the route chosen for farmers from south of Carbondale, was right past our house. For that reason my Grandfather kept his residential property fenced so that strays that the cowboys could not control would not get into his yard and trample Grandmother’s flowers or tear up the chicken yard fence. My parents lived in the house immediately north of the Norton home, and we were not fenced, but since our house was located on the steep declining road, the drovers seldom had one of their charges escape into our yard on the way to the stockyards.

The stockyards were located about 1/5th of a mile or about 1,000 feet north of the intersection of First and Main streets or in other words, north of the old elevator. Small lots of hogs may have been taken to the stockyards by team and wagon, bur cattle were driven, and it was common practice to drive hogs as well early in this time period. There may have been a few 1 1/2-ton trucks with stock racks, but I only remember one and that was owned by Andy Finlay (no relation to the other Finlays).

Andy ran the elevator at Carbondale and be lived one and one-half mile south of our home so he traveled the road past our house to and from his work. Lawrence Urich recalls that Ruth Hug’s father, Lem Livingston, hauled hogs to Morrells in Topeka for Lawrence’s father, Henry Urich, so we know from that, that there was beginning to be some livestock hauling by truck in the middle 30s. But the railroad stockyards were kept in operating condition, kept painted white, and were often used until war time. The stockyards were still intact when I went to the army. Lawrence thinks that “Shavey” Waetzig may have done some stock hauling during this time period. By 1940 nearly all livestock was hauled by truck.

To drive lo the stockyards or the ball diamond, the road north from the intersection of Main Street and First Street passed right by and just east of the grain elevator’s cob pile. In those days corn was brought to the elevator and sold on the cob, and shelling was part of the elevator’s job before the corn could he shipped by rail. Near the top of the elevator’s main building on the east side there was a wooden chute that poured out the cobs during the shelling operation. The pile often grew to 20 or 30 feet high. The cobs were free and many were taken home to start tires, particularly in the kitchen range. There were other uses for the cobs around the home as well, and some users took home a supply of both red and white cobs.

This article reprinted with permission from Growing of a Family and a Country by Glen D. Norton, who passed away in 2010.

Article thanks to the Osage County Historical Society. For more information, contact the historical society at 785-828-3477, 631 Topeka Ave., Lyndon, visit, or email [email protected].

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