Re: 1950 Tonnage - Coal from PA

Thomas Baker

Southern Iowa was laced with coal mines. Even today--or the last time I drove through the area--I was very surprised to discover that many of the coal ceposits were strip mined, and the scarred land remains. At one time, however, Iowa had a number of underground coal mines, some of which were quite close to Des Moines. I spent several summers from 1988 through the summer of 1996, not every summer but most of them going out to the former Chicago Great Western terriotory interviewing former employees.

One of them who began work with the company in 1917 at the age of 17 became a passenger brakeman and later conductor, then later a freight conductor, told me that one of the jobs he really "hated" was that of brakeman on the Saturday night miners special out of Des Moines. I believe one of the underground mines seved by the CGw was near Berwick, an area today that is probably part of Des Moines. I guess on Saturday night the miners had spent some of their money on booze and were pretty well tanked up with ill-mannered behavior to confirm the point.

It is hard to believe that a railroad like the CGW actually at one time served underground coal mines in Iowa. In an old employee magazine, I saw a photo of a CGW ribbed twin hopper underneath a coal tipple, a small one nothing like what one might have found on the L&N, N&W, or the C&O, but a place where hoppers could be loaded nonetheless. Any type of CGW twin hopper was gone by the late Twenties or early Thirties. By that time, CGW hoppers would have been used to convey coal for the coaling towers on the CGW, and the underground mines had long since closed near the CGW.

Interesting piece of history anyway.



From: STMFC@... on behalf of Denny Anspach
Sent: Thu 8/18/2005 3:35 PM
To: STMFC@...
Subject: [STMFC] Re: 1950 Tonnage - Coal from PA

At 12:50 PM 8/18/05, Tim O'C wrote:

> Why was so little anthracite used in the midwest, compared
to NY/NJ/PA?
It is easy to forget that Illinois was a large coal producer (is it
still?), and at one time there were a fairly large number of
producing coal mines in Iowa (a mine on Iowa family land lasted into
about 1960). One would presume that the cost of the local product
would probably shut out another shipped from 1000 miles away. I do
know that in our Iowa and Chicago family homes, coal disappeared like
snow in the mid-day sun as a heating fuel about 1940-41, to be
replaced in each instance by oil- which at that point must have
become economically competitive.

Is/was anthracite ever shipped to the Midwest? I presume that it
must have been on special occasions. Wasn't there a thread on this
list several years ago about photos that showed D&H hoppers (or
similar) full of anthracite in Waukegan or another of the Lake
Michigan cities, the fuel required to fire a power plant that was
under some sort of smoke abatement ordnance?

For a number of years until at least 2000, we also would buy small
amounts of bulk anthracite coal in rural northwest Iowa to burn in
my brother's steam launch (when more photogenic smoke was desired
than could be ordinarily produced by the usual white oak firewood).
Although we drew from a big pile, I never knew whether it was
delivered by truck or hopper (the yard had an active adjacent siding-
now gone, along with the railroad)

For the seven years that I lived in the New England far north, I
heated the house primarily with anthracite coal, trucked up from PA.
Every year, I would burn seven tons, all hand fired (by me) once a
day in the morning. It is actually pretty wonderful stuff. Clean, a
LOT of heat, relatively little ash, but hard as heck to get going
from a cold start.


Yahoo! Groups Links

Join to automatically receive all group messages.