--- In STMFC@..., "np328" <jcdworkingonthenp@...> wrote:
I agree, Jim. Just pointing out that hauling coal to the steel mill in Duluth wasn't the traffic that brought these cars that far west.
However, I wonder about coal, or coke, to smaller operations. I'm getting out of my area of expertise here, but it seems to me that many of the smaller steel and malleable iron foundries of the period used cupola furnaces, where the melt came in contact with the fuel. Wouldn't that require certain grades of "metallurgical" coal? Perhaps Tony could shed some light on this. Were there "merchant" coke plants that made coke for sale to industries too small to own their own coke plant? I know Solvey (sp?) had a big plant in Milwaukee, but have no idea where the output was shipped. I also realize that at one time every little city in the mid-west had coal gasification plants, where coke was a byproduct, but I have no idea if this coke was considered suitable for all classes of foundry work.
The Great Lakes were essentially an extension of the Appalachian coal fields, because the same transportation network that brought coal and iron ore together in western Pennsylvania could be used to bring eastern coal to the head of the lakes, where it was reloaded into local road cars. However, at some point the cost of haulage via a lake port had to equal a direct rail route, and both would be competitive with local coals, due to different characteristics, such as better heat output, less ash, etc. The problem is, I've never seen a good discussion of exactly where that point might have been, and so it's hard to say for sure how far eastern hoppers were likely to roam.