Sand Loading Site

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The Wisconsin and Southern Railroad has been constructing a sand loading facility that will be used by the Pattison Sand Company. The two silos in the upper left portion of the photo can hold 250 tons of sand each. The new equipment being installed will be inside a building when the project is complete. (Photo by Ted Pennekamp)


WSOR building a sand loading facility for Pattison

By Ted Pennekamp


There has been a lot of activity and several new structures installed in recent weeks at the Pattison Sand Company loading site along the Highway 18 Bypass in Prairie du Chien.

Tim Karp, the director of business development for the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad, said the railroad is constructing a sand loading facility to be used by the Pattison Sand Company of Clayton, Iowa. 

“We are constructing a lead track and a six-track ladder track,” said Karp, who noted that the lead track will run through the facility so railroad cars can be loaded with sand, while the ladder track will be able to hold up to 128 railroad cars full of sand. 

“We will be able to assemble a 100-car-unit train without having to pull cars onto St. Feriole Island anymore,” said Karp, noting that the new facility will help alleviate congestion and train activity on St. Feriole Island, which in turn will make things better for people enjoying the island, while also helping other companies who use the railway there. “It will also make sand loading much faster, more efficient and less costly,” said Karp. “We’re making operations more efficient in order to provide better service to our customers.”

In addition to the new tracks, Karp said the new facility will also include two silos for the storage and loading of sand, a bag house that controls air quality and a conveyor system. There will also be a building around all of this new equipment. 

Karp could not provide an exact figure but said the facility will cost the railroad millions of dollars to construct. He said the project should be completed sometime in June.

“Pattison Sand is really excited that the railroad is doing this,” said Chance Harvey, an engineer for Pattison. Harvey said the two silos each hold 250 tons of sand and will make loading railroad cars much faster. Harvey said, in theory, Pattison will be able to load a railroad car in 10 minutes instead of the hour it takes now. By being able to load much faster, Pattison will be able to offer much more competitive prices to its customers.

Also, Harvey said the bag house goes above and beyond what the Environmental Protection Agency and the Wisconsin DNR require regarding the control of air quality for the new facility. He said just under 10,000 cubic feet per minute (CFM) is required, but the bag house will operate at a capacity of 15,000 CFM.

In addition, the building that will house all of the equipment will greatly reduce dust, noise and light coming from the site. “We’re trying to be good neighbors,” Harvey said. 

There are several contractors working on the project, including River Town Ironworks of Prairie du Chien and C.J. Moyna and Sons of Elkader. River Town Ironworks constructed all of the equipment off-site and is assembling it on-site. C.J. Moyna conducted all of the excavation and grading work. 

"They have really given us a lot of work since 2006," said River Town Ironworks owner Jim Armstrong about the Pattison Sand Company.

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