N&W in 1908 -- Ivor farm

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Tue Oct 14 22:10:37 EDT 2008

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
September 25, 1908

Something about Railway Farm in Southampton County, Virginia

The industrial Department of the Norfolk & Western Railroad [sic], which is looked after by Mr. F. H. LaDaume [blurred; best interpretation shown], has just had printed an interesting booklet on the N. & W. railway farm in Southampton county, Va., midway between Petersburg and Norfolk. The booklet is just from the press, and in addition to much reading matter, it contains many pictures. Its contents are in part as follows:
The passengers on the Norfolk & Western Railway's trains running between Petersburg and Norfolk, through the Tidewater section of Virginia, have been interested for a year or more in the development of a now modern farm property lying adjacent to a small station, Ivor, Virginia, midway between the aforesaid cities, in Southampton county. It is in the heart of the largest peanut producing section of Virginia and the United States.
About two years past, a tract of land near this point, originally purchased by the Railroad Company back in the early 50's [blurred, best interpretation shown] for the firewood growing thereon to be used as fuel in its engines, was turned over to this department with authority to clear same up and establish a modern Railway Demonstration Farm. This land is by no means the best that could be found.
In the month of April, 1906, or just about two years ago, a large force of men was put to work clearing up one hundred acres of this land. Shortly afterwards the construction of a large, fourteen-room dwelling was commenced, and other forces were put to work simultaneously building fences, grading roads, laying tile drainage pipes, digging ditch drains, leveling off the surface, and in general putting the land, as fast as cleared, into condition for future cultivation. The house was scarcely under way before the foundations were laid for a large modern horse and cattle barn, and a well outfit was put to work with instructions to go down until they struck a good stream of artesian water, which was reached at a depth of two hundred and twenty-nine feet. A little later, poultry houses, piggeries, a combination ice-house and dairy, a carriage house, a one-hundred-ton silo, and a separate house for the farm hands were constructed. A complete pneumatic water system was installed and the finishing touches were added in a coat of paint that brought out the attractive feature of every building. Today, within a period of only two years from the time the first ax was struck in the process of clearing, there has been developed a property that will compare favorably with the handsomest farm found in Illinois, Iowa, or any of the other Central States.
A little over a year ago, a considerable orchard, consisting of twenty-five or thirty varieties of deciduous fruits adapted to this locality, was planted. It comprises an area of eight or ten acres, and is in a thrifty, healthy condition today.
In the spring of 1907, one year ago, two acres and a half of strawberries were planted, comprising about ten different varieties. This season over two thousand quarts of berries have been marketed from this patch, which brought a total gross return of nearly $200.
Some live stock has been put on recently, comprising a small drove of thoroughbred Hampshire hogs, a flock of thoroughbred White Plymouth Rock chickens and a flock of White Pekin ducks. There are also a couple of Durham cows to furnish milk for the manager and his family, and two good teams of farm horses in addition to a carriage horse for light driving.
The main object has been to first put the farm in a state of high productivity, and for this reason we have delayed putting on any large amount of live stock until the products had been raised with which to feed them. This season our hopes are being more than realized. Fifty tons of excellent timothy and oat hay have already been put into the barn with twenty-five or thirty more to be harvested later. Some twenty-five or thirty acres of corn insure a yield next month of at least one thousand bushels, besides furnishing more than enough silage to fill the hundred-ton silo.
Numerous other crops, including Kaffir corn [Dictionary: A tropical African variety of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) grown in dry regions and in the Great Plains for grain and forage.] , broom corn, Alsike clover [Dictionary: A perennial European clover (Trifolium hybridum) with whitish or pink flowers, naturalized over much of North America and grown as a pasture and hay plant.], red clover and other grasses, cow peas, sugar beets, rye, oats, mangel wurzels [Dictionary: A variety of the common beet having a large yellowish root, used chiefly as cattle feed.], potatoes and turnips are all contributing their quota to a harvest which will take care of a number of cattle, hogs and sheep that will be put on this fall.
The farm manager, Mr. S. M. Geyer, has had a wide experience in the west and is a practical farmer and creamery man. He has great faith in this section, and has taken up the work with unusual energy, ability and perseverance, which are very largely, if not almost entirely responsible for the excellent results obtained.
[I find it interesting that the Norfolk & Petersburg Railroad originally bought this land in order to have a supply of wood fuel.]

Gordon Hamilton
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