Chelsea Milling Company Home of Jiffy Mix

Looking for a prototype industry straddling a main line, try Chelsea Milling Company. Located in Chelsea Michigan, the company produces Jiffy brand mixes since the 1930s. Jiffy was created as the first prepared baking mix in the United States.

Chelsea Milling Company
Chelsea Milling Company

The company has been family owned and operated since it was founded. The company is now managed by Howdy Holmes, a former Indianapolis 500 and CART driver. The company employs about 300 workers and produces 1.6 million boxes of its products each day. The Jiffy corn muffin mix has a 90% market share and is the company’s biggest seller.

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Most of the company’s products are handled, processed and produced in-house, which includes grain storage, the grinding of grains into flour, product mixing and box manufacturing. A significant amount of product ingredients are sourced from Michigan-raised crops, including “most of the wheat and some of the sugar. Some sugar and shortening is imported from Illinois and Indiana. The company offers free tours of its operations to the public. Over the last few years, Chelsea Milling has been expanding into the food service and institutional industries. They have also been upgrading equipment and processes to become more efficient. To learn more about the history of the Chelsea Milling Company, and the “JIFFY” Mix brand, there is a Virtual Tour video.

Overview of plant (click to enlarge)

The Chelsea Milling Company straddles the old Conrail (ex: Conrail/New York Central/Michigan Central) main line between Detroit and Jackson. The line today is owned by Norfolk Southern and sees several Amtrak trains every day with service between Detroit and Chicago. Although the Chelsea Passenger station is standing and is in good shape, no passenger trains stop in Chelsea. Additional info on the operation along the line is available at http://knorek.com/RR/SAA/MichiganLine/MichiganLineIndex.htm

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Chelsea was once home to the Glazier Stove Works who built a very large clock adjacent to the milling works and across the street from the passenger station. This clock tower is a major feature of Chelsea.

Clock Tower (hides a water tank which is no longer used) built by Glazier Stove Company
Clock Tower (hides a water tank which is no longer used) built by Glazier Stove Company

If someone wanted to model the entire Chelsea milling works to scale, it is approximately 1,800 feet (20 feet in HO) wide along the main line. This includes the passing siding, all spurs and the switching lead. The depth of the scene could be done in 360 prototype feet (less than 2 feet) if the main plant is done as a background building with the grain elevators on the front of the layout.

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The entire scene of Chelsea would make an excellent subject for a Free-mo module. The scene will fit within the 2 foot width and could include the station and the clock tower. The milling company would be a great addition to operations. The facility information according to Norfolk Southern is:

Facility Information:
Types: Wheat Flour Mills
Switch Road: NS
Switch Status: CL
Storage Capacity: 1500000
Track Capacity: 15
Loading/Unloading Capacity: 3

Most grain is gathered within a 150 mile radius of Chelsea and is delivered by truck. Even so there is almost always a few grain cars on hand and the plant can also receive other bulk products (such as sugar and Shortening) by rail when required. With selective compression the Chelsea Milling Company can serve a small layout, free-mo module or even be a small Layout itself.

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