George Heerdt standing in front of one of his trucks. Contributed photo
My dad, George Heerdt, grew up on a farm three miles southwest of Hector. In the 1940s, he worked on the family farm and also drove truck for Clarence Horkey. George purchased his first trucks in 1952. He bought a 1951 International L-170 series tractor with a 30-foot Fruehauf livestock trailer and also bought a 1948 GMC straight truck with a 16-foot stock rack.
A typical day for George was to spend most of the day driving around the countryside with the straight truck or pickup, getting a few head of livestock from different farms and bringing them back to the Hector stockyards to consolidate into a semi load. The livestock was usually loaded onto a semi around 6 p.m. and then he headed to South St. Paul stockyards or to the Wilson packing plant in Albert Lea.
George unloads cattle at the Hector stockyards. Contributed photo
The hogs were loaded into semis that were double-decked. The big sows were loaded on the lower deck in the front. The center-dividing gate had to be closed when half of the hogs were in the trailer, and George had to crawl on his hands and knees below the deck to close the gate. When his sons were old enough they would crawl below the deck to close the gate.
On hot summer days George would often water the hogs down with a water hose after loading to prevent them from overheating on the long trip.
The fall was a busy time year for George as he would go out West to get feeder cattle for area farmers at sale barns in North Dakota and South Dakota.
It was also a time when feeder cattle would arrive at the Hector stockyards via the Milwaukee Railroad. The stock cars would be unloaded, and the pens were full of cattle. George would deliver the cattle to the local farmers. It should be noted that the Hector stockyards were the last eastern one located on the Milwaukee Railroad.
Some of George Heerdt’s trucks used for transporting livestock from Hector to South St. Paul stockyards. Contributed photo
Geoge Heerdt operated his trucking business for about 20 years. George’s wife, Marilyn, often drove with her husband in the early years. Marilyn claims they were the first husband-and-wife team in Minnesota. All of George’s children helped out in his trucking business. Marilyn would often make hot egg sandwiches for the kids to eat as they headed down the road to South St. Paul. There would often be two or three kids riding along with George in the truck.
The Hector stockyards were located on Ash Avenue and 3rd Street East. They were torn down in the early ‘70s. The cement slab of the stockyards is all that remains.