When the Carnation Dairy receiving station opened in Spruce Pine on September 4, 1941, the Asheville Citizen reported that a large crowd was in attendance to hear speeches by state and corporate officials. An open house was held prior to the speechmaking, and “iced chocolate drinks made from Carnation milk “were served.
Prior to the station’s establishment, local farmers sold their milk to Biltmore Dairies of Asheville on a limited basis. Speechmakers at the opening of the receiving station in Spruce Pine claimed it was the “biggest event in Mitchell County in probably 100 years” and emphasized that local income from the dairy industry would not diminish as had minerals and timber; instead, farmers’ income would increase as the demand for condensed milk grew. They also spoke of the natural enrichment of the soil that accompanied dairy farms.
Mitchell County dairy farmers produced Grade C milk, from which evaporated milk was produced. Only a few farmers could afford the upgrades in buildings and equipment required for Grade A, or fluid, milk for drinking. Raw milk delivered to the Spruce Pine station was taken to the Carnation Condensery in Statesville, NC, established in 1936; daily output from the Spruce Pine Carnation station was about 60,000 pounds of milk, which made 150 cases of evaporated milk.
For a time, dairy farming provided more income for local farmers than any other agricultural work; it yielded an annual revenue of about half a million dollars for the more than 600 Mitchell County farmers who brought their raw milk to the station.
One of the speakers at the opening was S.T. Henry, owner of a dairy farm on the site of today’s golf course. He said that the dairy business would radically change, passing out of the hands of farmwives, “who had heretofore sold small amounts of butter and milk for pin money. Selling milk to such markets as are now opening here… will be a man’s business.” Sexism aside, collaboration among the Carnation Company, State agricultural offices, and local farmers also led to opportunities for local boys and girls to participate in 4H and other agricultural programs (Tri-County News 2-21-1950). The young people were often spotlighted in news reports over the next few years as breeders of the dairy cattle exhibited at the Annual Tri-County Cattle Show held at the old Mayland Fairgrounds.
This researcher was unable to find when the receiving station shut down, but it was still in operation in 1953 according to a February 23rd article in the Asheville Citizen-Times. Does anyone know when the station closed?