Re: Covered hopper traffic patterns was Travels Of B&O N-34 Covered Hoppers

Richard Townsend

Here are a couple of possibilities from the southern Illinois area the B&O served. The info is from the Illinois State Geological Survey.

Tripoli is a highly porous rock that consists of tiny particles of quartz. Deposits in Illinois are found in the extreme southern portion of the state. Tripoli is used in the ceramic industry, in polishing optical lenses, as paint filler, and as a fine abrasive.
Fluorite, lead, and zinc production were historically important in Illinois. Fluorite, the official state mineral, metallic lead, and zinc ores are no longer mined in the state.
Beginning in the 1840s, mines were opened in the southeastern tip of the state in Hardin and Pope Counties to initially obtain galena (lead ore) and later fluorite. Illinois fluorite comprised more than 90 percent of the total U.S. production in the early 1980s, but competition from lower priced imports resulted in the last mine closing in 1996.

Richard Townsend
Lincoln City, OR

-----Original Message-----
From: Aley, Jeff A <Jeff.A.Aley@...>
To: main <>
Sent: Thu, May 31, 2018 8:59 am
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Covered hopper traffic patterns was Travels Of B&O N-34 Covered Hoppers

Somewhere around here, I’ve got some data showing the average (mean) distance travelled by various commodities.  Perhaps it’s in the STMFC archives, which are now searchable.  Anyway, as Jim says, cement doesn’t travel very far.  Its availability, high density, and low value make it uneconomical and unnecessary to ship long distances.
Other commodities, however, such as trona and soda ash, did not have many sources, and therefore did travel long distances in early covered hoppers.  However, it does seem that the cars were in “almost captive” service as stated by Jim.  The LO’s serving the soda ash and trona industries on the UP in Wyoming & Idaho were (according to Freight Conductor’s books) entirely home-road and leased cars.  No B&O N-34’s were confiscated for this traffic (in the data that I have).
P.S. I can dig out the primary source data if anyone is REALLY interested.
From: [] On Behalf Of Jim Betz
Sent: Thursday, May 31, 2018 7:50 AM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Covered hopper traffic patterns was Travels Of B&O N-34 Covered Hoppers
  To add to what Bruce is saying - cement service is rarely 'long distance'.  Any
routing longer than 100 to 200 miles would pass several closer plants/users.
Cement is relatively heavy stuff.  Most cement shipping is predictable by
project and/or season.  Covered hoppers in cement service were usually
in that same service - only - for long periods of time.  Think "Interstate
construction in an area", "the building of a dam", etc.
  So, although cement hoppers were not typically stenciled for 'captive
service' - they were, for all intents and purposes used that way - with
periodic reassignments as necessary.
  I have not researched other uses of early covered hoppers but I
suspect that similar things could be said of those services as well.
For example - if you are shipping sand for ceramic use ... the supply
point(s) and the plant(s) using it are going to be the same.  And the
user is going to find the closest source for the product they need.
  Bottom line - it's a slippery slope to think of covered hoppers as
"general service cars".  And it's even slipperier for the early hoppers.
                                           - Jim B.

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