Back when I was a kid (era addressed in this group) you could purchase bagged coal from Consumers Coal and Ice, in New Castle, IN. This was available 24/7 thanks to a vending machine built into the front of the business. You could get bagged ice that way also. Bring lots of quarters; no bill changers.
Consumers was served by the NYC line running between Indianapolis and Springfield, OH. Coal bags were paper, but I'm not sure where the bags were filled. Your post has given me an idea as to how that came about.
I wonder if some of the "lake coal" was used to make charcoal. Lots of that moved (and probably still does) from MN in paper bags for consumer use in small patio grills.
From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io [main@RealSTMFC.groups.io] on behalf of Alex Huff [dsrc512@...]
Sent: Monday, September 14, 2020 11:41 AM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Photo: Loading Coal Into Boxcars? (1914)
In 1985 I was asked by a hardware store owner whether it was still possible to receive bagged coal in boxcars. The market was home heating. I didn't know and made calls to find out. The answer was, "Not any more." I did learn that back in the era covered by this list, it was common. I talked to a company in Duluth which had bought coal by the ore boat load and had a bagging line. "We finally scrapped that machinery a couple of years ago." Boxcar grain from the prairies was trans-shipped into boats at Duluth. Some of the boxcars returned to the prairies loaded with bagged coal bought by grain elevators who also sold coal. I don't know what the percentage of loads both ways was.
Alex Huff, retired South Dakota railroader & S scale modeler