Re: Photo: Standard Coal Company Box Car Unloader (1914)

Todd Sullivan


Most certainly coal would freeze in the winter if the loaded open-topped coal cars were snowed on or were subjected to other winter precipitation that froze in the loads.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, I visited the Reading's two largest anthracite breakers, one at Locust Summit, PA and the other at St. Nicholas.  Both  were shut down in the late 1950s or early 1960s, but both were mostly complete when I visited them.  The  St. Nicholas breaker had a complex set of tracks that allowed unprocessed anthracite from mines to be hauled up a creek valley above the breaker and thawing sheds.  In the winter, frozen coal loads could be dropped down from the uppermost yard to the thawing sheds.  The thawing sheds had 6 tracks and probably could hold six to eight 33ft twin hoppers per track.  They were enclosed by doors on each end and steam heated.  After thawing, each car was dropped down to the scale track and weighed (minus the weight of most of the snow and ice), and then dropped down further to the dumping spot.  The anthracite was taken by conveyor to the top of the breaker, which was six stories tall, and then processed through slate-picking to remove slate and rocks, then crushing and washing, and finally graded for size and reloaded into hoppers that had come through the whole process above the breaker.  After loading, the cars were weighed again, then classified into outbound trains.  For years, I thought and planned to build a smallish layout based on the St Nicholas breaker operation, but I never got to the point of building anything.

Todd Sullivan

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