Re: Shipping Coal - How Far?

Dave Nelson

Utah coal was shipped all over the Pacific coast for many decades in the steam and early diesel eras. Most of the coal mines were in Carbon County.

Specific shipments I know of included:

(1) to the Kaiser Fontana steel mill in Southern California -- this would have been from Carbon Co Ut to Provo by the DRGW and then handed over to the UP for the run to California.
(2) to Ely NV... DRGW to WP at Roper Yard Ut to Nevada Northern in Utah.
(3) to Washington state... DRGW to WP at Roper Yard Ut to GN at Beiber CA. What I don't recall offhand is whether it went to Spokane, Seattle, or both.
(4) to port of Oakland CA... DRGW to WP at Roper Yard Ut to Oakland. This was late 50's, early 60's and the coal was exported overseas.
(5) to Kaiser cement in Santa Clara county, CA. Not sure of the entire routing but it started on the DRGW and ended on the SP. The open question is whether the WP participated or not. There may have been similar shipments to other cement producing sites on the Pacific coast (coal ash is why ordinary cement is gray).
(6) Last, but not least... in 1943 there was the last shipment of coke from Alabama to a Sugar mill near Fremont CA. (President's papers, CSRM). Just a handful of cars but it seems to have been an annual event. Seeing as the processing of sugar pulp requires a pure carbon filtration there would be similar shipments to ever mill just before the beet campaign begins, including those on the west coast. The question tho is whether the coke was originally coal or petroleum -- the later was commonly found as a byproduct at west coast oil refineries. Was it good enough for sugar processing? I don't know.

Dave Nelson

p.s. AFAIK the shipments to Washington state handled the largest tonnage.

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Sunday, February 26, 2017 4:39 PM
Subject: [STMFC] Shipping Coal - How Far?


How far would coal be shipped in hoppers? Especially as it relates to the West Coast. I'm talking about regular everyday coal for steam - such as to a railroad or to a cement plant (or any other large industry such as a steel mill or power plant).
And what was truly in control of the sourcing of coal?
Of course it was price per ton - but, for instance, how much closer would the coal mine have to be before the shipping costs based upon ton miles started to be more important than how many RRs were involved in the shipment or other factors?

For instance - where would coal for such purposes have been shipped from - going to locations in Central or Northern California?
I know there was coal in Utah that was being shipped to Southern California. Other sources/locations?

Extra credit - what 'influence' did the railroad that the industry was on have on the source of the coal in received? For instance if you have a cement plant in Northern California being served by the ATSF ...
where did the coal it received -probably- come from?

Steam/transition era answers only - please. I'm not asking "what is happening today?" or "what happened in the 70's or 80's?".
- Jim B.

Posted by: jimbetz <>


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