Freight Yard Brewing Tap Room

Posted on September 4, 2020

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Sotherden Mill Aerial 9 1 20

HISTORY MYSTERY: Freight Yard Brewing Tap Room

This two-story building was built as a feed mill in 1921 and catered to the needs of area farmers until the mid 1980’s.  The railroad brought from the mill grain, feed, coal and 50 pound bags of pancake mix and mail from the railroad station to serve growing families in the Town of Clay and Onondaga County area.  The property was the original site of the Cigarville Railroad Station and there is a New York State Historic Marker at the south edge of the property on Rt. 31.

The original freight yard had two sidings; side tracks for the trains to stop off from the main line.  One siding was used for the mill and the train station and one siding for the milk house (abandoned), the W. A. Moulton store, and the Weller Sauerkraut and Canning factory (where CNY Wood Products is currently.)  Before the caning factory, J. W. Coughtry and Son Cigar Manufacturer was on the same property.  This was how the post office in the railroad station was named Cigarville.  Civic and financial problems caused the cigar business to abandon.  The Canning company took over until it burned down in the 1930’s.

The current owners of Freight Yard Brewing, Bryan and Lou Sotherden, proudly display the original blueprints and drawings of the different configurations of the Clay Freight Yard.  The old freight yard is now converted into the Farmers Market green space.  This is bordered by a hop yard; hops is a flower used as a main ingredient in beer.  The last of the side tracks were removed in the late 1970’s and the old mill building over the years hosted a small engine repair shop, a veterinary clinic, a consignment shop and then greatly underutilized.

Today, the building is being revitalized and reinvented as a New York State Farm Brewery with a strong continuing history of supporting New York State farms.  In the meantime, it houses a tap room serving craft beers from local state brewers.  This building is part of the historic Olde Clay Hamlet which now includes Immanuel Lutheran Church (the oldest church congregation in  Clay and the oldest Onondaga County Lutheran congregation), and the Clay Historic Park.  The park includes; the original Clay Cigaraville Railroad Station, the Weller barn from across the road, an exact replica of the circa 1790 log cabin from Henry Clay Blvd and a Community Welcome Center.  In the past, it was the center of the town with most of the town’s factories, businesses and retail stores.

The 1,717 sq. ft. tap room is built and remodeled with reclaimed materials.  The tables and chairs were all hand crafted from either spent craft beverage barrels or reclaimed hardwood barn pieces.  Original elements include the massive hot water radiators and the scales.  The exterior scale was used to weigh trucks filled with grain, feed or coal.  The interior mill scale was used for mixing feed specifically prepared for each customer.  The building is true to its original design but has been modernized for comfort.  Old sliding doors, hand carts and original nail bins from the old mill now contain Freight Yard Brewing Company store merchandise.  The unique bar stools were made from freight car springs.  The original loading docks are back in use and even an old rail from one of the sidings is being used as a bar foot rest.

*Much information from Steve Sotherden, Bryan and Lou Sotherden, and my personal observations.

 

Dorothy Heller, Historian

September 4th, 2020 

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