Re: hopper loads


In my youth during the depth of the Great Depression people would walk along the tracks carrying burlap bags.Their mission was to pick up coal along the tracks that had spilled from locomotives and cars.Bituminous (Soft) coal was burned in locomotives and in many homes as the prime source of heat.Often seen dowagers would boldly venture near the coal chutes where the picking was more rewarding.Railroad men would turn a blind eye toward the less fortunate.Railroads made little effort to salvage spilled coal.Soft coal had a special aroma.Anthracite (Hard) coal was more expensive and was the coal of choice for home heating as it burned cleaner and had a higher BTU.Some companies dyed their coal as an advertizing gimmick i.e. Blue Coal.There were several grades of coal and often came in several sizes.If I recall correctly stoker coal was smaller.Hope this adds some fuel to the fire.<G> Armand Premo

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dennis Storzek" <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, August 15, 2007 11:40 AM
Subject: [STMFC] Re: hopper loads

--- In, "ed_mines" <ed_mines@...> wrote:

I recall there's a third type of coal - lignite. I saw this up close
when I lived in Germany. It almost looked like like Celotex ceiling
tiles. Was this a common hopper load in the US anywhere in the '40s?
There was a certain amount of lignite mined in North Dakota, but it
wasn't shipped very far; after all, the only reason for trying to burn
the "brown dirt" was that it was cheap, and shipping charges negated
that advantage. The Northern Pacific burned lignite in their
locomotives, at least for a while, and had to use larger than normal
fireboxes to get adequate BTUs. The Soo Line bought it for heating
coal, which led to all sorts of stories from old time agents about
flitching "locomotive coal" (bituminous) to get the stoves hotter
during the coldest weather.

Lignite doesn't weather well; it dissolves in the rain and returns to
the from whence it came. Therefore what little lignite that shipped by
rail went in boxcars. I've seen a picture of the Washburn Mine loading
tipple during the WWI era, and they were loading boxcars exclusively.

How about coke? What does that look like? How common was it as a load
in the '40s? Were special coke cars always used?
Coke is flat black to dark gray in color. It is considerably lighter
in weight than coal, so a typical coal hopper couldn't haul a full
load. The eastern roads had special hoppers with "coke racks"
extending their sides for added cubic capacity. Old boxcars and
stockcars with their roofs removed were also common. Roads that had
little coke traffic just used boxcars or stockcars.

I'm sorry to hear that Tim Gilbert passed away. I always enjoyed his
contributions. He'll be missed.
I'll miss Tim's contributions also.


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