Was the Knox Mine disaster in Scranton/ WilksBarre the begining of the end for the Anthracite railroads LV,Lackawanna,Reading.O&W,Jersey Central ect.?

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Was the Knox Mine disaster in Scranton/ WilksBarre the begining of the end for the Anthracite railroads LV,Lackawanna,Reading.O&W,Jersey Central ect.?
Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 4:17 PM

Just read the artical is this months trains and was always told by Scraton locals that this killed mining in this region because most of the mines were inter-linked and got flooded out.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Thursday, June 14, 2018 5:46 PM

Not really.  What killed the anthracite 'roads was the evaporating demand for anthracite coal after WW2 as fuel oil became the preferred fuel for home heating and industrial use.  Loss of the anthracite traffic left those 'roads scrambling for new revenue sources and there just wasn't enough business to go around.

There still is a market for anthracite coal, the Reading and Northern hauls quite a bit of it, but it's only a fraction of what the market once was.

One 'road I know of that was badly hurt by a mine closing was the New York, Ontario & Western, but the mines they served closed in the 1920s, the mines  were played out by that time.  The "Old and Weary" managed to suvive for a few more decades by hauling bridge traffic, and WW2 caused them to pick up some business, but it was all over by 1957.

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Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Thursday, June 14, 2018 6:35 PM
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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Friday, June 15, 2018 10:05 AM

Firelock76

Not really.  What killed the anthracite 'roads was the evaporating demand for anthracite coal after WW2 as fuel oil became the preferred fuel for home heating and industrial use.  Loss of the anthracite traffic left those 'roads scrambling for new revenue sources and there just wasn't enough business to go around.

There still is a market for anthracite coal, the Reading and Northern hauls quite a bit of it, but it's only a fraction of what the market once was.

One 'road I know of that was badly hurt by a mine closing was the New York, Ontario & Western, but the mines they served closed in the 1920s, the mines  were played out by that time.  The "Old and Weary" managed to suvive for a few more decades by hauling bridge traffic, and WW2 caused them to pick up some business, but it was all over by 1957.

 

Fire lock hit it on the head, house holds and commercial accounts being transferred from coal to fuel oil all Thur out the north east, coal demand plumeted killed lots of the coal roads including the O&W and the east broad top.

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Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Friday, June 15, 2018 12:38 PM

A town that I did door to door sales in Cleveland had the first half of the burb N of the freeway built in the 1920s and most of them had Iron Coal door chutes and the S half of town houses built during the 1950s GI Vet Housing Bill did not have coal chutes but did have milk man doors

https://goo.gl/images/JUf4pf

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, June 16, 2018 12:54 AM

ROBERT WILLISON

Fire lock hit it on the head, house holds and commercial accounts being transferred from coal to fuel oil all Thur out the north east, coal demand plumeted killed lots of the coal roads including the O&W and the east broad top. 

And now fuel oil loosing to natural gas

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, June 16, 2018 6:46 AM

Fuel oil lost to natural gas decades ago in the Chicago area.  Coal is losing to natural gas for power plant generation for cost reasons.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, June 17, 2018 10:15 AM

CandOforprogress2

A town that I did door to door sales in Cleveland had the first half of the burb N of the freeway built in the 1920s and most of them had Iron Coal door chutes and the S half of town houses built during the 1950s GI Vet Housing Bill did not have coal chutes but did have milk man doors

https://goo.gl/images/JUf4pf

 

You can still see quite a few of those coal chute doors in the older neighborhoods here in Richmond, and on some of the 19th and early 20th Century commercial buildings that still survive.

Civil War buffs get a real kick out of the ones that have "Tredegar Iron Works" cast into them. 

Coal was still used in some parts of Richmond for home heating until fairly recently.  At my first job here 30 years ago I was looking out a front window and was amazed to see a coal truck rolling past.  I brought it to a co-worker's attention and he told me there were a number of older homes that still had coal furnaces, not many, but enough to still make coal delivery trucks a common sight.

I would imagine most, if not all, have been converted to something else by now.  I haven't seen a coal truck in years.

Oh, I forgot to mention I watched that four-minute video on the mine disaster, with the river pouring into the breach like water going down a bathtub drain.

What a horror.  What a way to die.  God rest those poor mens souls!

 

 

 

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Posted by SD70Dude on Sunday, June 17, 2018 12:06 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH

Fuel oil lost to natural gas decades ago in the Chicago area.  Coal is losing to natural gas for power plant generation for cost reasons.

The fracking boom has made natural gas dirt-cheap, at times out here the spot price has trended negative!  It's not just homeowners who love this, chemical companies and refineries out here use huge amounts of natural gas as feedstock, mainly for fertilizer & plastic production and as a hydrogen source for "cracking" the heavier hydrocarbons that make up a high percentage of oilsands bitumen.

But this change is fairly recent, gas prices crashed about 10 years ago and were sky-high before that point, things were bad enough that several large plants considered switching to coal and one (Inland Cement in west Edmonton) actually did.  They still burn coal today, and being upwind of the city this has made them very unpopular with the general public.

Some folks still have coal furnaces in shops or barns, but they are getting to be rare now.  Getting coal is made quite easy as Alberta law requires that all mines have to sell coal in "residential" quantities.  This may change with the impending phase-out of coal-fired electricity here, which will see all the large mines close.  The remaining small operations will be few and far between.

And of course above all else gas is just easier and cleaner to use.  No ash, oil tanks or trucking to deal with, to say nothing of power companies complaints over rail service...

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, June 17, 2018 12:47 PM

SD70Dude
 
CSSHEGEWISCH

Fuel oil lost to natural gas decades ago in the Chicago area.  Coal is losing to natural gas for power plant generation for cost reasons. 

The fracking boom has made natural gas dirt-cheap, at times out here the spot price has trended negative!  It's not just homeowners who love this, chemical companies and refineries out here use huge amounts of natural gas as feedstock, mainly for fertilizer & plastic production and as a hydrogen source for "cracking" the heavier hydrocarbons that make up a high percentage of oilsands bitumen.

But this change is fairly recent, gas prices crashed about 10 years ago and were sky-high before that point, things were bad enough that several large plants considered switching to coal and one (Inland Cement in west Edmonton) actually did.  They still burn coal today, and being upwind of the city this has made them very unpopular with the general public.

Some folks still have coal furnaces in shops or barns, but they are getting to be rare now.  Getting coal is made quite easy as Alberta law requires that all mines have to sell coal in "residential" quantities.  This may change with the impending phase-out of coal-fired electricity here, which will see all the large mines close.  The remaining small operations will be few and far between.

And of course above all else gas is just easier and cleaner to use.  No ash, oil tanks or trucking to deal with, to say nothing of power companies complaints over rail service...

When my father got transferred to Garrett, IN in 1959 he rented a house that had been constructed for the President of the Creek Chub Bait Company - a manufacturer of fishing luers - the house had been constructed in the early 20's.

With Garrett being a railroad town, the house had been constructed with at least one bedroom at ground floor level with a window accessable for the 'Outdoor Crew Caller' to be able to knock on to notify personnel that they had been called to duty.

The house had also been constructed with a coal fired furnace and in the basement, adjacent to the furnace was a 8x10 foot bunker with exterior coal door for the delivery of fuel.

As a condition to renting the house, my father required that the furnace be converted to Natural Gas.  The converted furnace was a gas hog.

The kitchen had a electric stove, that appeared to be in the place that the coal or wood fired stove previously occupied.  The house still had a inbuilt 'Ice Box' that had been designed to use Ice for cooling - no electricity required - we used it as cupboard storage and use a electric refrigerator instead.

         

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Posted by 54light15 on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 3:53 PM

You see coal hatches on older buildings here in Toronto, there was one that I looked in and the bin was full of pea-sized coal. I told the people there that live-steam modellers would take it away for nothing. I contacted the live steamers in Hamilton about it and that's what they did. In older apartments there are milkman doors in the hallways outside every apartment but those are all fastened shut. 

I well recall the coal trucks on Long Island when I was a kid. They were filled at a spur track on the LIRR. Our boiler was a converted coal burner and we would find bits of coal in the yard. My brother, who was 8 and surely was correct, said that a big lump of coal (about the size of a melon) would be worth fifty dollars! My 6 year old self was excited, I couldn't wait to find a lump of coal that big. Then the old man said that fifty dollars worth of coal would be about 2 tons. Ah jeez!

But, what would a homeowner back then have paid for coal? How much would be delivered at a time? Anybody? 

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 6:35 PM

54light15
But, what would a homeowner back then have paid for coal? How much would be delivered at a time? Anybody? 

Coal as a heating fuel

https://economics.yale.edu/sites/default/files/clay-130415.pdf

         

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Posted by greyhounds on Thursday, June 21, 2018 1:52 AM

This is nostalgic.

The house I grew up in had a coal room, right next to the furnace room.  My mother was a teacher and she paid a woman to take care of me in my pre school days while she taught.

So I clearly remember being picked up on her way home.  The first thing we did in winter was go down the basement to the furnace where she'd shovel in some coal. Then the house got warm.  The fire was banked at night and during the day.  Niether parent was going to use coal to keep the house warm when nobody was home.  Or when everybody was under some blankets.

I also remember the conversion to propane.  I know the house is still there and that coal room is also probably still there. 

Well before my birth the railroad (CP&St.L) would spot a gondola of coal on a siding in our small town.  People would just take their wagon or truck to the gon and shovel in some coal.  Then they'd go pay the agent.  Hey, we stayed warm in the winter.

 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, June 21, 2018 6:53 AM

greyhounds

This is nostalgic.

The house I grew up in had a coal room, right next to the furnace room.  My mother was a teacher and she paid a woman to take care of me in my pre school days while she taught.

So I clearly remember being picked up on her way home.  The first thing we did in winter was go down the basement to the furnace where she'd shovel in some coal. Then the house got warm.  The fire was banked at night and during the day.  Niether parent was going to use coal to keep the house warm when nobody was home.  Or when everybody was under some blankets.

I also remember the conversion to propane.  I know the house is still there and that coal room is also probably still there. 

Well before my birth the railroad (CP&St.L) would spot a gondola of coal on a siding in our small town.  People would just take their wagon or truck to the gon and shovel in some coal.  Then they'd go pay the agent.  Hey, we stayed warm in the winter.

 

 

I recall it well also, but in the Chicago suburbs.  My parents' house was built in 1924 and had a steel exterior door-equipped coal room next to the furnace, which had a a stoker (Iron Fireman) for easier regulation. Distribution of heat was gravity feed. Oil conversion came about 1950 with a change of ductwork to forced air. Natural gas just a few years later.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Thursday, June 21, 2018 7:37 AM

     My first 2 homes, built in 1890 & 1917, both had coal chute doors.

     Our company was founded in 1888 selling coal, grain & lumber. I was told that at one time our main lumber yard sold and delivered 44 different kinds of coal. The owners were pretty sharp businessmen and had the yard built where the Milwaukee Road line in town crossed the Illinois Central so they could get freight in from both. About 10 miles up the road they had a yard on the C&NW, and about 2 miles away in another small town, a yard on the Great Northern. Those cats were sharp!

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Posted by RDG467 on Thursday, June 21, 2018 8:58 AM

The main anthracite 'fields' in Pa are separated from each other. Northern, Middle (East and West) and Southern were the historic names of the fields.  The Northern field was under the Wyoming Valley and had the most deep mining.  The Lackawanna, LV, CNJ and the Erie (to a small extent) lost the most traffic from the Knox disaster.  The Reading's territory was the Middle and Southern fields. 

[Whoops, forgot to mention that the CNJ & LV both served mines in the middle fields, too.  Plus, the PRR hauled *some* anthracite out of the southern field, too.]

I think they had a *slight* increase in business after Knox, but it succumbed to the same trendline that other posters have mentioned.  Anthracite consumption for home heating was already declining after WW2. Some industrial uses helped keep the mines in business and hoppers rolling, but nothing like the pre-war 'glory days'.  

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Posted by chutton01 on Thursday, June 21, 2018 1:52 PM

54light15
I well recall the coal trucks on Long Island when I was a kid. They were filled at a spur track on the LIRR.


Heck, there were dozens of coal dealers on Long Island back in the day.
Note the Vulcan Fuel Co. in Floral Park - that coal silo still exists (well, it did last year), although besides vehicle storage and communication antenna mounting, I'm not sure what its used for...

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Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Thursday, June 21, 2018 2:40 PM

What is left of the NY&O that is still in operation? I saw some trackage around Middletown NY

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Posted by Firelock76 on Thursday, June 21, 2018 5:41 PM

To my knowledge nothing is left of the NYO&W aside from still-standing stations.  All the trackage was pulled up after abandonment and the selling-off of the O&W assets like locomotives and rolling stock.  Anything that couldn't be sold intact was sold for scrap.  The creditors had to have their money.

What you might have seen in Middletown was ex-Erie trackage or a local shortline (very short) called the Middletown and New Jersey Railroad.

It's been said the collapse of the NYO&W sent shock waves and shudders through the railroad industry, it was the first of the Class 1's (as they were reckoned at the time) to totally crash and burn like that, by that I mean not just bankruptcy but bankruptcy and abandonment as well.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, June 21, 2018 9:31 PM

Firelock76
To my knowledge nothing is left of the NYO&W.  All the trackage was pulled up after abandonment and the selling-off of the O&W assets like locomotives and rolling stock.

What you might have seen in Middletown was ex-Erie trackage or a local shortline (very short) called the Middletown and New Jersey Railroad.

It's been said the collapse of the NYO&W sent shock waves and shudders through the railroad industry, it was the first of the Class 1 (as they were reckoned at the time) to totally crash and burn like that, by that I mean not just bankruptcy but bankruptcy and abandonment as well.

B&O purchased some of the NYO&W's FT diesels.  They may have purchased other assets, but I am not aware of any.

         

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Posted by RDG467 on Friday, June 22, 2018 6:17 AM

BaltACD

 B&O purchased some of the NYO&W's FT diesels.  They may have purchased other assets, but I am not aware of any.

There are a handful {3, I think} of 44-tonners left from the Old & Weary.  One made it's way to Scranton last year for preservation.

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Posted by 54light15 on Friday, June 22, 2018 9:20 AM

I recall seeing Conrail on the O &W's old trackage in Middletown, N.Y. in the early 90s, alongside the O & W station which was still standing. The track was in poor condition with the rails moving up and down quite a bit as the train moved. 

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Posted by Firelock76 on Friday, June 22, 2018 9:51 PM

For the disposition ( or diaspora, if you will) of the NYO&W's diesel fleet, check this out...

https://www.thedieselshop.us/NYOW.HTML

For the survivors to the present, there's this...

https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?11,4331643

 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, June 23, 2018 6:50 AM

54light15

I recall seeing Conrail on the O &W's old trackage in Middletown, N.Y. in the early 90s, alongside the O & W station which was still standing. The track was in poor condition with the rails moving up and down quite a bit as the train moved. 

 
Like many abandonments, some industrial trackage was picked up for the handful customers still using the line when O&W quit.  In a similar vein, some ex-CA&E trackage in the near west suburbs was operated by IHB as an industrial lead into the 1980's.
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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, June 23, 2018 11:44 AM

How'd everyone like a visit to the "Old and Weary?"

First is a nice slide show of what was and what remains.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g171ayHRoNA

Next is some vintage film from the 1920's.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxP9VgHuN4c

Looks like the long-gone NYO&W still has a strong fan base.

And speaking of Middletown, here's a photo spread of the O&W's Middletown station taken a few years back.  A bit sad and depressing considering the condition of the building, but you can still see the high-quality work that went into building it.  The website says it all.

http://www.iridetheharlemline.com/2011/06/16/old-abandoned-middletowns-ow-station/

 

 

 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, June 23, 2018 12:11 PM

The AE&FR (CA&E) spur to Elgin State Hospital was used into the 70s.

 

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Posted by GeoffS on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 5:55 PM

Anthracite is still on the move here in Pennsylvania!

At about 3 pm today (6/27) a westbound NS train with 89 (I may

have missed one) Reading & Northern hoppers filled with anthracite

went by at Cove just north of Harrisburg. Great to see it!!

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Posted by Firelock76 on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 5:58 PM

The Reading and Northern, the new "Road of Anthracite."

Somewhere in the Great Beyond, Phoebe Snow is smiling.

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Posted by zugmann on Friday, June 29, 2018 9:11 PM

Firelock76
Somewhere in the Great Beyond, Phoebe Snow is smiling.

 

'Cause upon the RBM&N, the anthracite is riding?

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Friday, June 29, 2018 9:19 PM

Aw, you know what I mean!

"Her dress stays white and snowy bright, upon the Road of Anthracite!"

And the Reading and Northern does have steam excursions, although I'm sure #425 is burning, ahem, bituminous.  It doesn't have a Wooten firebox.

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