Re: Wood coal hoppers

John Stutz


Actually the common colliery arrangement is fairly straightforward.  Raw coal coming out of the mine is not suitable for sale.  It needs to be weighed to credit the miner(s), picked clean of iron, rock and boney coal, screened into commercial size ranges, and any under size waste discarded, before being shipped.  That's what the coal tipple does, for any company shipping to commercial markets.  So normally operation of the mine rail system and the shipping railroad are quite separate. 

With regard to common coal mining practice, the EBT is a very deceptive prototype.  That railroad was only nominally independent.   For its last half century of operation, it was actually the transportation arm of the coal company.  The EBT existed to gather raw coal from the several small mines operating at any one time, and carry it to the central cleaning and screening plant at Mt Union.  The Mt Union plant substituted for the much more common mine head tipples, and actual shipping of commercial coal was via the PRR.  That was an elegant solution to the problem of working several intrinsically small mines, but it was not a common practice.

Regarding multiple NG coal car types, Lavalle's timeline shows that the Dunmore line was opened in April 1885 and the Great Falls line in December 1890.  The latter occasion surely required an expansion of the coal car fleet, and the time elapsed between openings would have uncovered any problems with the original cars.  If those cars were purchased on the Great Falls & Canada account, they might not have come from the original source.  So some differences should be expected.  In addition, there are the complications of an international trade, which may have restricted car movements.

John Stutz

On November 10, 2021 5:54 PM Nigel Phillips <nigelp18000@...> wrote:

I have just been browsing through the Galt Museum Archives of coal car photographs. I have identified at least 3 different types of narrow gauge cars in the period 1880-1910. Those used on the Great Falls & Canada (to Great Falls, MT) appear to be different to those used on the North Western/Alberta Coal & Navigation (to Dunmore Junction AB, for the CPR). And then there are the smaller ones used on the incline from the drift mines to the 3-foot gauge ones. I'll post them when I get permission from the museum. In the meantime some more perspective measurements.

Complicated system - mine cars (looks like a 2 foot gauge) to 3 foot narrow gauge cars to standard gauge cars (at Great Falls and Dunmore Junction).

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