To Chicago on a Stock Train, 1900

If you’re planning a trip to Chicago, the Standard man has some impressions to share of the big city.  Sounds like quite a trip. From the September 7, 1900 Skidmore Standard, pages 1 and 4:

To Chicago On A Stock Train.
Standard Reporter Visits the Big City.

It is hard to find a contented man. One might go a day’s journey and not discover a man who is thoroughly, completely and entirely satisfied with his lot in this world, and who would not voluntarily give up his vocation to step into some other fellow’s shoes. The farmer desires to be a merchant; the merchant wants to be a doctor; the dispenser of pills and powders would be a farmer, and the editor would like to be a bigger editor or else president of the United States of America. Thus the world wags on.

It is fun to be a stockman sometimes; but after a brief experience with the prod-pole we feel that our natural inclinations are not in that line.

Last Saturday afternoon, Mr. T. B. Slaughter, who has made a decided success of shipping cattle and hogs during the past fifteen years, gave us a riding interest in two loads of cattle consigned to Chicago. So, for fifty hours – forty hours going and ten returning – we passed as a stock shipper. Mr. H. W. Montgomery, cashier of the Farmers Bank, was in the deal too. He and Mr. Slaughter took special care of us; pointed out the novel things and wonders of the great city and saw that we did not go into places where we ought not to go. That accounts for our safe return home, right side up and on schedule time.

To one who has never had the experience, a trip to Chicago on a stock train affords much interest.

We started from Skidmore a little past four o’clock Saturday afternoon. At Burlington Junction our train, which was a long one, got tangled up on the side-track with the south-bound freight, and we did not pull out of there until half-past nine. More stock was loaded at Shambaugh, Iowa, which caused a long stop. There were so many long waits during the night that Sunday morning found us only to Villisca, Iowa. The shippers declared that it was the slowest run they had ever made. Most of them were out of humor and felt like swearing. We made good time to Galesburg, Illinois, arriving there at half past three Sunday afternoon. At Galesburg, our cattle were unloaded and fed hay.

The stock yards at that place are immense. There were more than a hundred cars of cattle fed there Sunday in addition to several cars of sheep and horses. The stock was again loaded in the evening. Our train left the yards about half-past 10 o’clock. and by a fortunate move on our part in finding the waycar before it was coupled onto the train, we were wholly unconscious of all surroundings until we reached Aurora at 5:15 the following morning.

From this busy little city on until we reached the out-lying suburban towns, we rode on the “observation tower” and filled our lungs with good, fresh air, the temperature of which reminded us of the approach of frost and the density of which reminded us that we were still on a freight drawn by a big mogul, which belched forth clouds of sulphurous, grimy smoke filled to its utmost capacity with stinging little cinders which never wavered in their persistent efforts to enter our eyes and nostrils. Our hands, faces, and linen “usually so faultless” in their appearance, were a sight to behold. We had had some magician’s baleful influence directed toward us for we had been transformed from decided blonds to equally as decided brunettes – hair excepted, the whites of our eyes being the only white visible to a casual observer.

The first move we made after arriving in the “windy city” was to remove all surface dirt we possibly could with soap and water, and then breakfast. The inner man being satisfied our next move was to the stock yards.

Anyone visiting Chicago for the first time should go through the stock pens. They cover 640 acres of land, have good floors and many of them are covered. More cattle can be seen there than on a ranch in Texas. A few pens usually contain the long-horned, wild-eyed, rough animals that once cropped the grass on the range, but most of the pens are filled with nice, fat stock. Everything goes with a rush and a jam. The buyers and salesmen may be seen riding through the pens on horses, haggling for bargains. We did not go through all the pens; it would have taken too long, and there were other things which we were anxious to see.

Monday was Labor Day. The Union men in Chicago observed the day and made a big showing. The parade started in the forenoon and was four hours in passing. Their demonstrations were made in Electric Park and Wm. Jennings Bryan and Teddy Roosevelt spoke during the afternoon.

Michigan avenue is a favorite drive with the people of Chicago. The wealthy ones are there with their elegant turn-outs of every variety. An automobile may be seen passing noiselessly along occasionally. We saw one lady riding a horse without a side-saddle. She wore divided skirts and sat her mount very gracefully – seemed to be enjoying herself.

While we were yet in bed Tuesday morning, two men quarreled in the alley at the rear of the hotel where we were staying and one shot at the other three times. He was intoxicated and the policemen captured him easily. The affair gave us something to talk about while we were at breakfast.

A lover of nature can find entrancing entertainment in Lincoln park just so long as he has time to stay there. It is a beautiful place. There is quite a collection of animals and birds. The flowers and aquatic plants are magnificent.

Chicago is a dirty place. The streets there are not so clean as some of Skidmore’s streets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *