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I was recently contacted by the officials and owners of the Robert B. Hill Salt Company. They had found my MRH Blog about the building of their car. This is the story that ensued and the gifting of the model to the company and it's amazing owners and staff.
On October 28th, I received a Facebook Messenger note on my Splitrock Mining Company page. It was from Mr. Aaron Weber of the Robert B. Hill salt company. He was researching the internet to see what was posted about the company. This is where my blog on MRH from January 2015 showed up.
He asked if we could chat about the model. I assured him I still had the model and would be more than happy to show it to him and the owners of the company.
I then realized that this would make the perfect retirement home for the car. I picked up a clear display case and put in some track and ballast. I then retrieved the car from its temporary home on my friends layout, carefully wrapped it up for delivery.
I also received a nice message from Ms. Katie Hill, the granddaughter of Robert B. Hill. She related how nice it was to find that someone modeled one of their cars and that their whole family was rail fans. She and her family appreciated the effort I took in creating the model.
Soon a meeting was set up for a Friday morning. My wife and I went to their St. Louis Park, MN facility and were greeted by a friendly staff. Mr. Weber could not attend but Mr. Jeff Hill, the owner was very happy to give a full tour and explain the operations and history of moving salt from a covered hopper into storage, trucks and bags. They handle many different types of salt and still do some bagging in paper. Thats quite an operation with a very large sewing machine to seal the top of those heavy bags. They also build water softeners for any and all sizes of new construction, specializing in large commercial softners.
The outside of the Robert B. Hill salt company in St. Louis Park, MN.
A nice touch as you enter the offices.
Just some of the various products that they can deliver.
Paper bags are still created in the facility. Extra points if someone can point out the error in their artwork. ( Its OK, Jeff showed me and noted they don't want to change it. )
The auger in the roof of the salt storage portion. They can move the salt to various bagging or bulk service areas via conveyors and augers.
The end of the salt storage room. If any of you scratch builders want to recreate this, Jeff showed me that the walls have 2x12 inch studs...on 6 inch centers. It's a sturdy room for all that weight.
They were loading one of their commercial trucks for bulk deliver to many large buildings in the Twin Cites area. The back of the truck is three large hoppers.
Here is a car on their spur. It has been moved by winches to get each compartment over the grate area.
Here is the end of the line. The box contains the cables and winch for moving the car. The parking lot next door where the errant boxcar was pushed belongs to the City of St Louis Park. So yes, it was the Police station too.
Detail of conveyor system used in emptying the cars.
CP Rail crew using two loads to grab the empty. There is a small run around track about 1000 yards back. They will use this to spot one load, then leave the other load for offspot. You can see the wear and tear that covered hoppers receive in salt service.
The train moving thru the backyards of the industrial park. To the right is actually Minnehaha Creek. It is a beautiful area. The cars squeal so much as they use the airbrakes to get an exact spot, it is tough to talk on their phones or have discussions while the train is working.
During the tour, the Canadian Paciifc was kind enough to show up and pull one car and spot another. Jeff and I talked to the crew and watched a little bit of switching. Their spur is on the tail end of an industrial siding. Jeff also told me a humorous story about the former Milwaukee Road boxcar on their property. He says they were using it for storing bagged salt and such, outside their loading dock. The Twin Cities and Western crew was shoving cars down the spur and the conductor knew the spur could hold 13 cars. He didn’t account for the extra boxcar placed at Hill Salt. Jeff said he arrived in the morning and the boxcar was pushed into the neighboring parking lot. I guess it was time to move it away from the track and switch to hoppers.
After our tour, we adjourned into a conference room where I presented the car to him and his family. He was very happy about the detail on the car and that I even added some weathering. I told him I didn’t want to add any graffiti, as the car had been tagged in its final years.
Presenting the car to Jeff Hill. You can see the NMRA award plaque I received as the car won First Place at the Thousand Lakes Regional Convention. I also gifted the plaque to Jeff and his family.
Jeff admiring the detail and me explaining how I knew the color of the hatches. I was glad they didn't get mad at me.
Jeff enjoying his new trophy case item.
Jeff and I have a chat about the cars and how I became interested in it.
Video by my lovely wife Diana,
This article first appeared on model-railroad-hobbyist.com
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