Re: we all know hoppers dont travel right?


Back when coal was a primary fuel for heating and manufacturing, the type of coal was very important for the end consumer.

Anthracite was the coal of choice for home heating. Also small bakeries that had coal; fired hearth ovens. Schools also used anthracite for their steam  heat boilers as did apartment houses.  Oil as a fuel was also used but for WW II many home owners and apartment houses had to refit their oil burning furnaces for coal.  Not a big deal since they were basically coal furnaces rigged to burn more convenient to use oil in the 1920s. 

Bituminous was generally used in larger industrial plants and for generating electricity. Also for most coal burning locomotives and steam powered marine craft that used coal for fuel.

Often an industrial user would have a specific mix of hard and soft coal for their needs.

Where these types of coal came from would basically determine whose hopper cars were employed for delivery. Also 50 to 55 ton cars might be more common that 70 ton cars for the 1950s, especially at small, local coal dealers.

High quality anthracite was basically mined in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Coal mined in western PA, West Virginia and Kentucky was was primarily bituminous. Coal mined in southern Illinois and the central states was usually of a quality between both types. Much of it was used for power generation. Western coal out of Wyoming, Montana, etc. was basically lignite, of lower heating quality

PRR handled anthracite from NE Pennsylvania as well as bituminous from western PA and West Virginia. Much of this traveled to Philadelphia and New York for those metro areas, as well as into New England. Other anthracite haulers were Eire, Jersey Central, Lehigh Valley, Delaware & Hudson, Lehigh & New England and the Lackawanna.

B&O, C&O, N&W and VGN mainly handled soft coal out of West Virginia and Kentucky. NYC too, served bituminous coal mines deep in West Virginia, hauling it into upper New York and New England.

C&O,  N&W and VGN were large shippers of coal for export out of Newport News VA.  A good deal of B&O's West Virginia coal came to Baltimore and New York for local use and export, as well as up to Canada via Rochester NY.

Monon, C&EI, Wabash and IC basically handled coal from southern Illinois,
CB&Q, and MP carried coal from deposits in the central states.

So on NYC rails in western MI, one would likely see NYC and P&LE hoppers, maybe also C&O, at some coal delivery points. Possibly Erie or even D&H for hard coal delivery.

PRR as well for anthracite but perhaps also the Reading (?), as the NYC owned half of the Reading Company along with the B&O, which basically did not handle anthracite.

Bituminous coal often went to large coal dealers and factories. Anthracite to large and especially small coal dealers, who most often provided coal for heating homes small businesses.

What hoppers you might see on a railroad will depend on the source of the coal and the customer's needs. Also how the coal was sold to local dealers through brokers. That sometimes produces an interesting mix of different railroad's hoppers at a coal dealership.

Ed Bommer


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