Mining traffic on LA&SL

Don Strack

I've been doing some newspaper research about the Pioche mining district in southern Nevada, which was connected to the rest of the world by LA&SL's 32-mile Pioche Branch from Caliente. From Caliente, LA&SL moved the mined ore north about 340 miles to the smelters near Salt Lake City, all of which were served directly by LA&SL. I am looking to see if the steel cars of the narrow gauge Eureka Hill Ry. were sold to the Pioche Pacific. But that's another story.

At its height in the mid 1920s, the entire Pioche district shipped about 1,800 to 2,000 tons per week, all over the LA&SL Pioche Branch. If my calculations are right, at about 40 tons per car, this makes about 45-50 cars per week, or about 9 cars per work day. Here is a specific week in April 1923: During the third week of April 1923, the Pioche district shipped 1,940 tons: Virginia Louise, 560 tons; Prince company, Bullionville tailings, 630 tons; Prince company, Dry Valley tailings, 355 tons; Bristol Silver Mines (Synder interests), 245 tons; Combined Metals mine (Synder interests), 150 tons. (Salt Lake Telegram, April 21, 1923)

This ore was mostly copper and iron, with nice percentages of silver and gold to make the trip worthwhile. The iron ore was needed by the big Salt Lake smelters as what was known as flux ore, to balance out the high sulphide copper ore being processed from the Bingham mines.

My point with this message is to ask if my 40-ton estimate is correct, and maybe what type of car. I do have a list of LA&SL gondolas from 1925, numbered in the 200000 series, with a stated capacity of 50 tons, but I don't think they actually were loaded to their limit due to bad track on the spurs at the mines.

Don Strack

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