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January 2008 - Page 8


By Bill Neale
Usually, the structures that are used to load coal into hoppers are not mines at all, but simply storage bins-the coal is carried by conveyor, truck or horse and cart from the actual mine shaft a few dozen feet or a few dozen miles away. These techniques will help you produce more credible models of mine tipples. There's an index of previous articles on modeling the mines as an industry on our website at www . railmodeljournal . com /

n the early part of the 20th century, many coal mines were small entrepreneurial operations that employed a couple dozen people, and produced small numbers of carloads. The tipples were usually small structures with only one or two loading tracks and were often located close to mainline tracks

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The most frequently modeled coal tipples are the massive 3-4-track structures that Walthers used as the prototype for their modern mine. These were very common in the heart of the Eastern coalfields. They produced whole trainloads of loaded coal, all clean and sorted by coal grade. They are often reached by a long rail spur that brought the rillLroad close to the mine head. In most situations, the tipples had holding tracks to either side of the loading area for loads and empties. When modeled correctly, they require substantial

space. Looking at pictures of these large operations, it seems that no two tipples were the same. While these large mines are interesting, my focus is on the smaller less-often-modeled trackside tipples. Sometimes smaller mines were tucked in between these l arge operations, where a small landowner retained mineral rights and ran a small mining operation. Sometimes these small mines were on the edge of larger coalfields and survived as independent operations because the larger

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