Re: B&LE triple offset hoppers

Cyril Durrenberger

The first part of the post about the change to tripple hopper was not by me, but by the person who wrote the original post.

It is true that long ago there was coal that moved from the east to Duluth and Superior, but not today. It moves the other way.

Some of the coal that was shipped to Duluth was moved to the iron range to power the mines and was used for locomotive fuel and residential space heating. There was a steel mill in Duluth that used coal. DM&N has some hoppers that were used to move the coal from the docks to the mill and other locations. The D&IR also had some drop door gondolas that likely were used to haul coal, but in later years they were used mainly to haul pulpwood. From about 1888 to the 1960 or so the D&IR had a large coal dock at Two Harbors to receive coal by boat. All of that coal was used on the iron range.

The D&IR and DM&N used ore cars (sometimes ones retired from hauling iron ore) to ship coal for their locomotives. There are several photos of this use in Frank King's books. Also the Duluth and Northern Minnesota, a large logging railroad, had their own dock at Knife River where coal was unloaded and moved in old wood ore cars.

Many of the winter all rail trains in the recent times have used standard hoppers to haul taconite pelets.

Cyril Durrenberger

Dennis Storzek <destorzek@...> wrote:
--- In STMFC@..., Tony Thompson <thompsonmarytony@...> wrote:

In some cases the mining companies would send the ore to a washing
plant to remove sand and other impurities from the iron ore and in
some cases it went to a sintering plant prior to being taken to the
docks. But natural ore, as it was called, was not normally
chemically treated prior to shipment from the docks. In the late
1960's the taconite process replaced the natural iron ore when the
stocks of natural ore were exhausted (or in some cases in shaft
it became to expensive to remove).
Everything Cyril says is correct...
That part is correct, but his first paragraph isn't, the switch to
Taconite didn't lead to a switch from triples to shorter cars, and
taconite is actually less dense than the natural ores, which is why
roads like the DM&IR were adding "Taconite extensions" to their cars.

The roads in the upper lakes region always used short cars. The
original wooden cars were only 24' or 26' long; this lead to the
pockets on the massive ore docks being this width, and this lead to
the hatches on the later steel lake freighters being in the same
modules. At this point, it was a little late to buck the trend.
Anyway, the ore roads had no need for larger cars for other
commodities; the iron ore was their reason for being… there was no
other traffic.

The lower lakes was a different story. Every road that hauled ore
south from the lake ports tried to haul as much coal back north to the
ports as they could; the goal being a perfect score of 100%
utilization of the car fleet. To do this, they had to size their cars
for coal, not ore. It's only after the collapse of the market for
eastern coal that they started buying short ore gons.

Where did all that coal go? Back to the upper lakes as backhauls on
the lake freighters; the boat owners liked the idea of 100%
utilization, too. Every ore loading point I can think of also had a C.
Riess & Co. coal dock, and most the coal in the upper lakes region
came by boat, not rail. Seeing an N&W coal hopper on the DM&IR back in
the day was probably as rare as seeing one on Sherman Hill :-) Once at
the upper lakes, however, this coal didn't go back to the iron ranges,
but elsewhere, so there was no chance of backhauls in the same car
fleet, and the ore cars were always a dedicated fleet that spent its
life running empty half the time.


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