Carnation Milk at Maysville

Tobacco has long been “king” in Mason County, but gradually, over the lat two decades, his loyal subjects have been paying increasing homage to their new queen – the dairy cow.

 Perhaps the big white carnation milk plant in Maysville is now taken for granted by many local citizens as just a familiar landmark, but, to those who were concerned many years ago with the dangers of the county’s one-crop economy, it means far more.

 When thought is given to the fact that a total of $7,000,000 was paid out by this carnation plant in 1949 through milk and labor payrolls in Mason and surrounding counties, the true worth of the operation to this Ohio River town is understandable.

 In 1928 when tobacco crops were lean and added income was needed, the Carnation Company was surveying various possible new locations as sources of milk supply to meet the expanding world-wide market demand for Carnation Milk.

 Maysville’s public spirited citizens, realizing that the area had great possibilities for dairying, determined to wage a strong campaign to secure this new industry for their town and farm area.  Detailed surveys had to be made to prove to Carnation that not only was Maysville a good location for the plant, but the surrounding fertile farms were ideal for economical grass-land dairying and were operated by progressive farmers who could successfully handle cows as a side line.

 When the survey was complete, the results were so promising that Carnation wasted no time in setting up operations in Maysville.

 Since the plant first opened in 1928, the personnel has increased five-fold, with a present peak employment of more than 350 men and women of Maysville alone.  Many of these locally trained employees are now “experts” with records of 20 or more years’ service. 

 Adding to the volume of local milk produced at Maysville, branch plants were gradually established in outlying locations.  Milk received and partially processed at branch operations is transported to Maysville in insulated steel tanks for canning.  Among cities in which Carnation branch stations are maintained are: Hillsboro, Ohio, Mt. Sterling, Campbellsville, Glasgow, and Danville.

 The Maysville condensery is today a model of sanitation and mechanical efficiency where an average of 20 tons of fresh milk per hour speed through the glistening stainless steel equipment, en route to the finished cans of concentrated, sterilized Carnation Milk, which fill many freight cars each day on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad.

 Connected with the condensery is one of Carnations eight can factories, where tinplate is fabricated into the millions of cans required to carry Carnation Milk from Mason County farms safely on its journey to the consumer.

 One of the persons responsible for the growth of Carnation’s Maysville evaporated milk plant during the early years, according to a recent tribute which appeared in The Maysville Daily Independent, was Floyd Wiedrich.  He was in the farm service branch of the business and had the important job of developing milk supplies.  This was accomplished by working with farmers in the area, assisting them in learning how to handle cows and to produce good milk.  Through the use of progressive practices, such as improved breeding, efficient grain feeding, improved pastures, and good sanitation, farmers found milk production to be profitable and a source of income every day of the year.  Today, the same as in the past, Carnation fieldmen work tirelessly with dairy farmers in the Maysville area, helping them in every way possible to maintain and improve their herds, diary facilities, and efficiency of production.

 The local superintendent is J. Nelson Hardy, and the district superintendent of this and other southern plants is Frank Little, who has long made his home in Maysville.

 Because of the sound dairying program offered by Carnation and the cooperation of the people of Maysville and neighboring counties, the Maysville plant has become a prime factor in the economic development of the area.  This fine community spirit has helped dairying to increase the over-all prosperity of Mason County, which now ranks fifth in income among Kentucky’s 120 counties.


From the December, 1950 issue of Kentucky Business.