The Dray Line

Here is a little bit of Rutland history for your enjoyment until we get another installment of the Rooster Crows.


In the grey dawn, Oscar Hoflen climbed to the spring seat atop his dray wagon and ordered his team of large draft horses to “Giddap”. The two Percherons, Pride and Bess, easily pulled the heavily loaded wagon away from the freight house door on the north side of the Rutland Depot. Oscar swung his team and wagon south on Main Street to begin delivering the freight which had arrived during the night to the businesses in town. Most mornings several loads awaited the dray man when he slid open the freight house door. When the freight had been delivered there would be coal to haul. It was hard work, but good horses and a strong back would see the job through. 1924 was the height of the railroad age, but it still took men and horses to move the goods to and from the rails.

The dray line was a business separate from the railroad. The dray line operator, called the drayman, contracted with local businesses to haul their freight to and from the depot for a fee. Otto Anderson, who had come to Rutland from Norway in 1901, operated the dray line during the early years of the century. Later, Irving Preble and his brother owned the business. Oscar Hoflen recalls that his brother, George, purchased the dray business in Rutland from Lars Holen shortly after World War I. George operated a line for a while and hired Oscar to assist him. In 1924 George purchased the Rutland Meat Market and sold the dray line to Oscar. For $1,800.00 Oscar purchased three wagons, three teams, three teams sets of harness and one Model “T” truck.

In those days the freight trains came through Rutland at night. The Westbound freight arrived about 10PM and the eastbound freight arrived about 2AM. Goods destined for Rutland would be transferred from the boxcars to freight wagons and pulled into the freight house where they would await the drayman. The drayman would begin delivering by 5 or 6 AM so the freight could be at the business places by opening time. Everything from whiskey to watermelons and panties to pianos came in on the train so there was a lot of freight to move. The businesses paid the drayman every week based on the weight of the freight which he had hauled for them.

Another job of the drayman was to deliver coal. Most homes were heated by coal then. Coal was handled by both the lumberyard and the elevator. The elevator sold most. The delivery charge for coal was $1.00 per ton.

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