Re: Freight Car Distribution on smaller RRs - Calif. Zinc Ore

Tim O'Connor


Very interesting! So now the question is did those
gondolas travel the ATSF-WP-GN inside gateway route
to Great Falls, or SP-UP-MILW? :-)

Tim O'Connor

At 2/5/2009 06:32 PM Thursday, you wrote:
Tim / Jack,

Based on info in "Mineral Commodities of California" the zinc ore may
well have come from the Blue Moon mine in Mariposa County...

In 1942 the federal government began a program to increase production
"strategic minerals" within the US. Money was made available to
develop mine deposits, and by 1943, six additional zinc producers were
in operation in California. There were only four in 1942. By 1945
there were twelve mines operating in eight counties. Among these was
the Blue Moon in Mariposa County, close to Merced Falls. The
production, however, was "far in excess of development" and the Blue
Moon was one of two mines that would shut down by the end of 1945.

Historically in California, zinc output "boomed" during both WWI and
WWII. In the 1920's when prices were low, a smelter within the state
closed. As of the late 1940's it is noted in the text that zinc ore
still must be sent out of state for smelting, to Great Falls, Montana.
It was, however, refined in-state so as to be profitably shipped.
The book does not mention an in-state smelter starting up again during

In the back of the book is a list of smelters which reported
purchasing California metals in 1948. The three listed as purchasing
zinc were: Anaconda Copper Mining Co., Great Falls, Mont.;
International Smelting & Ref. Co., Tooele, Utah; U. S. Smelting,
Refining & Mining Co., Midvale, Utah.

So, in 1944-45, it appears those C&O, D&RGW, Erie, IC, PMcK&Y, and SP
gons were heading out of state to a smelter. And, Jack's switch lists
catch them close to the end of the mine's operation.

John Hile
Blacksburg, VA

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