• Potatoes

  • Discussion of present-day CM&Q operations, as well as discussion of predecessors Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) and Bangor & Aroostook Railroad (BAR).
Discussion of present-day CM&Q operations, as well as discussion of predecessors Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) and Bangor & Aroostook Railroad (BAR).

Moderator: MEC407

  by pjb
 
:-) The Bangor and Aroostook had a large export trade in whole
potatoes through the 1970s and later, run through a potato pier
equipped with powered belts that loaded spuds into break bulk
cargo vessels bound for Germany. The trade declined secondly
to both European continental produced spuds from points east
of Germany becoming available in acceptable and regular
quantities. More importantly the loss of all high value traffic
on the seas to containerization, and the assumption of all
large bulk trades by O-B-O types of vessels finished the roles
of the vessels involved .

Dry cargo conventionally sized (-10,000DWT) simply had
become redundant as maids of all work.
Some big ones were converted to other
configurations, and some others remained in
subsidized essential domestic trades for various countries.
However, the mass of these ships were simply cut up by
breakers.

I would take issue with the rhetoric concerning the growth
of Idaho's spud traffic (also California, Washington, and
Texas that are also major producers).
It was not part of some government
plot, but rather more directly related to the more extensive
base of the participants. That is, they had larger farmsteads
and could make better use of machinery and chemicals.
It was also true of the early wheat growers that dominated,
California, Washington, and parts of Oregon and Idaho.
Unlike the masses of midwestern grain growers that could
not afford the early combines, these large producers could
and ran them with twenty-four hitches , and later towed them
with Holt crawlers. They got out of this business (mostly, but
there are still some Pacific coast state wheat growers), and
moved into extensive fruit, and vegatable growing for: canning;
and distribution as fresh produce by refrigerator car to
eastern markets. Being aware of other opportunities,
Sacramento basin growers took up massive rice production.
In Idaho and Washington hops appeared. Citrus and other
tree fruit orchardists capitalized upon the local climatological
advantages that railroad refrigerator cars , and the Panama
Canal, presented to make their products price competitive
with eastern growers.
This strays from the B&A , but so did the comments viz. a viz.
Idaho. They were offered for explanatory value as are mine.
One area that Aroostook County spuds excelled in was freedom
from pests. The combination of prolonged deep frost and
pesticides meant that for the longest period under consideration
here, seed potatoes from Maine were premium material in the
southern United States (the appearance of a fir tree sourced
pest of potatoes in the eighties changed this to some extent).

The goal of potato growers is to make a living, not provide
revenue to railroads. Railroads, or any other part of the
distribution system are costs. The appearance of potato
dehydration plants in the 1950s was a major factor in keeping
growers going. Regardless of whether we eat them (and
most anyone buying at fast food restaurants does) or not,
large numbers do use them. Today, if you have the time
and money one can buy through the web or in large towns
with boutique groceries, virtually any kind of potatoes.
Some are "heirloom" varieties, to use the afficionadoes
lingo, that I don't think many people alive today had ever
eaten ante the rise of "Trader Joe" or "Whole Foods" and
the like.
Good-Luck, PJB

  by SLR 393
 
dhaugh wrote:What about (from the list of north-south shippers topic)?

Maine Potato Growers in Squa Pan
McCain Foods in Easton
Cavendish in Caribou
If its the same Cavendish at Leeds Jct and Rumford Jct, its an agricultural fertilizer company owned by the Irvings.

  by oibu
 
say what one will but I don't think any potato I've every that said "Idaho" could compare in taste and texture to a good quality Maine potato. They may look nicer, be more uniform in shape, etc.... but when you cut em up, mash em, or whatever, they just plain taste better. Better flavor, better texture, sweeter skins.

Partly this is related to the genetics of the variety of potatoes, but I've had many differnt types of potatoes and regardless of type, and regardless of whether bought at the grocery store or fesh off the farm, the Maine potatoes to me are almost universally better eating.

Of course I may be psychologically biased... :P

  by Dick H
 
Back in the 70s, before the Air Force closed most of its bases in northern Maine, it was revealed that the potatoes served to the military personnel there came from Idaho. I suppose it was some sort of bid deal or the clout of some Idaho politician, but it would seem the cost of transporting the potatoes from Idaho to Maine would have offset any low bid, etc. Your tax dollars at work then and now with the Air Force requesting two of those giant transport planes and the Senators and Congressmen insisting that they need ten. Oh, well.

Dick H