Re-use of ore cars in mine locations

The Discussion Board: Upper Peninsula Railroads: Re-use of ore cars in mine locations
By Jacob Hugart ( on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 1:27 pm:

I'm working on a model railroad and am thinking of free-lancing based on the geography of the Keweenaw peninsula. I have a question on operation, though. I've walked around the Quincy mine location, bought a copy of _Old Reliable_, and read the Kalmbach books on prototype operation. It looks like these mines consumed coal and produced poor rock, copper-bearing rock destined for stamp mills, and mass copper. Question: Would you use the same car for delivering coal as taking away copper-bearing rock or poor rock? Or was copper-bearing rock and poor rock used only in those low, open hopper types?

By Paul Meier ( on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 12:10 am:

Jacob, Ouincy had a large coal dock at the mill in Mason. The natural flow was "rock down coal up" useing the same cars. Their rock cars had a capacity of about 15-17 tons of rock. The same cars loaded with coal would carry much less weight due to the differences in density. Since it was a short haul and the rockcars had to go back up the hill anyway, there was no incentive to buy or build coal hoppers. C&H was much the same, although in the later years they did rebuild some of their woodsided rockcars with extentions and clearly lettered them "stoker coal". C&H by that time had an abundance of rockcars and could afford to specialize some of them. The routine traffic flow would be to haul loaded rockcars to the mill, unload them at the mill, and take whatever empty rockcars were needed down to the coaldock where they would be loaded. Trains returning to the mine could be all empties, all coal, or a mix. Once at the mine the empties could be spotted at the rockhouses, the coal at the boilerhouses. Once the coal was unloaded, the empty cars would be moved to the rockhouses. While the Mineral Range was hauling alot of rock during its standard gauge era, they would use DSS&A orecars to haul copper rock during the winter. Parent DSS&A would have hundreds just sitting around while the iron mines stockpiled until the shipping season opened. The Copper mines shipped rock to the mills year round. Copper Range was a bit different since its mills were on Lake Superior and its coal dock was in Houghton. This didn't give them a natural flow like the rest and they built a huge storage facility at Mill-mine junction. The Baltic Mine also had a very large coal shed at the mine. Kevin can provide the details on those operations.

By Paul Meier ( on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 6:32 pm:

Rockcars, Part 2: In regards to poor rock, the mining companies were very reluctant to even hoist it, let alone haul it anywhere. In most cases they had to hoist poor rock and so you see the huge piles of it near the shafts. They did use some of it for construction, ballast, and fill. Quincy had side dump cars to haul poor rock fill. The fills you see on Quincy Hill were hauled there by the Q&TL to fill in trestles over the ravines. Many of the stone buildings at the surface plants were built of poor rock and in later years poor rock was crushed for use as aggragate in concrete. C&H also had side dump cars to haul poor rock for ballast and fill. Finally, due to the very steep dip of the Baltic Lode, Copper Range actually hauled stampsand back to mine from the mill. It was dumped back into the mine where it was used to provide a working floor in the stopes. There is a capped dump shaft right next to the #4 shafthouse in Painesdale.

By Kevin E. Musser ( on Saturday, March 08, 2003 - 2:12 pm:

Paul covered most of the use, and transportation, of coal on the Copper Range and I would second the notion that no mine hauled poor rock as they would surely go out of business, except for the hauling of stamp sands back to Champion #4 by Copper Range as the upper levels of Champion were so rich. The Copper Range did have a massive coal storage facility at Mill Mine Junction which served the mines and the stamp mills on the Lake shore and used Rock cars, some modified with extended sides to haul coal to these locations. After 1931 when the Victoria Dam opened (controlled for the most part by Copper Range) the use of coal at Freda was discontinued as Copper Range used electricity instead of steam (coal) to power the stamps at the mill. So use of coal was now limited to the mines to power hoist engines and other surface operations at the mine.

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