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  • TOC Graphite mines and railroads

    I'm hoping perhaps the collected TOC railroading knowledge here might be able to help me out with a bit of an oddball topic.

    Graphite mining was a bit of a concern in parts of eastern North America around the TOC. Lots of startups in eastern Ontario (the area I'm modelling) and Quebec, upstate NY, and NJ were some of the boom areas. It lasted until the '20s, when rich deposits were found in Madagascar, and could be shipped around the world cheaper than the lower-grade ores from North American mines could be processed with the technology of the time.

    I've seen lots of photos and accounts of the mines (open pit and shaft) and the milling/refining process, but apart from some pictures from Sri Lanka, I can't see how the finished product would have been shipped.

    In pictures from Sri Lanka, it appears the ground product is shipped in barrels - would it have been the same here? Or would it be bagged? Or something else entirely?

    TIA.

  • #2
    Marcus,

    You got my curiosity piqued on that question. I did a search on "how is graphite shipped" and came up with what you mentioned, kegs and bags. Here's the link: https://cargohandbook.com/Graphite Scroll down to where it says "Shipment & Storage.

    That was all I found.

    Bernd
    New York, Vermont & Northern Rwy. - Route of the Black Diamonds

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    • #3
      A low grade ore might be shipped in hoppers or gondolas from the mine to a mill. If the mill shipped in kegs or barrels, staves, hoops and headings would arrive by boxcar.
      James

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      • #4
        But I think graphite comes out of the ground pretty much 'good to go'. Sacks or barrels makes sense to me.

        So that's boxcars in and boxcars out. But 'barrels in' would be a good excuse to run a large barrel car like those Knabb cars that Ye Olde Huff and Puff offered.

        dave
        Modeling 1890s (because the voices in my head told me to)

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        • #5
          quote:


          Originally posted by deemery


          But I think graphite comes out of the ground pretty much 'good to go'.


          In North America, most of the graphite is in various ores, with varying grades of quality.


          The two reasons the graphite industry went bust in the '20s was that the lodes in Madagascar were almost as you describe, and the technology for refining the lower-grade NA ores didn't really emerge until the '40s.

          Some of the larger mills would receive ore from smaller mines (often just small open-pits) and process it. Some smaller mills would crush the ore but not be able to process the graphite, and so again would be shipped (likely in open cars). But the finished product produced by a full mill is ultimately a fine powder, which wouldn't lend itself to shipping in open cars.

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          • #6
            Thanks Bernd, I hadn't seen that particular site, but others with similar information.

            It's interesting to me that the photographs from the era focus on the mining itself and the structures associated with it, but you don't typically see anything showing the end result. Maybe too boring or too active for the cameras of the day?

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            • #7
              quote:


              Originally posted by MarcusF


              quote:


              Originally posted by deemery


              But I think graphite comes out of the ground pretty much 'good to go'.


              In North America, most of the graphite is in various ores, with varying grades of quality.

              What are the "host" rocks?

              Bob
              It's only make-believe

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              • #8
                Graphite is found in metamorphic rocks such as marble, schist and gneiss, or in hydrothermal veins.

                Mike
                _________________________________________________

                Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. James Baldwin

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                • #9
                  Marcus,

                  There is a short mention of graphite mining and shipping (with one photo) in New York in the Summer 1990 Society for Industrial Archaeology newsletter on page 10:

                  https://www.sia-web.org/wordpress/wp...no2sum1990.pdf

                  Regards,

                  Wallace

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                  • #10
                    Thanks Wallace! I'd seen a history on Hague, but it didn't shipping to the refinery at Ticonderoga.

                    quote:


                    Originally posted by Empire of the Air


                    Marcus,

                    There is a short mention of graphite mining and shipping (with one photo) in New York in the Summer 1990 Society for Industrial Archaeology newsletter on page 10:

                    https://www.sia-web.org/wordpress/wp...no2sum1990.pdf

                    Regards,

                    Wallace


                    Comment


                    • #11
                      quote:


                      What are the "host" rocks?


                      As Micheal mentioned, it's typically metamorphic rocks (I'm learning this as I go along, I'm no geologist or rockhound!), but for the area I'm modelling, the provincial government has a database of mineral finds, and the rock they're in. For example:

                      http://www.geologyontario.mndm.gov.o...01SE00135.html

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                      • #12
                        Mike and Marcus, thank you.

                        Bob
                        It's only make-believe

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                        • #13
                          Marcus,

                          Seems like you have some good information. I found this and thought it might be helpful, although it is from 1946.

                          Scott



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                          • #14
                            quote:


                            Originally posted by CNE1899


                            Marcus,

                            Seems like you have some good information. I found this and thought it might be helpful, although it is from 1946.

                            Scott


                            That's awesome Scott! Thanks!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Marcus,

                              I found this on Google Books.

                              Here are a few more links, some regarding Canada production.

                              https://books.google.com/books?id=eq...6AEwAXoECAcQAQ

                              https://books.google.com/books?id=3q...6AEwAnoECAgQAQ

                              https://books.google.com/books?id=h8...6AEwBnoECAYQAQ

                              https://books.google.com/books?id=p6...6AEwCHoECAAQAQ

                              Scott

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