Author Topic: Rhode Island and South Eastern Massachusetts coal  (Read 3902 times)

Stephen Piwowarski

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Rhode Island and South Eastern Massachusetts coal
« on: November 04, 2014, 12:32:16 AM »
I just discovered that coal was mined in Rhode Island and South eastern Massachusetts at the turn of the century!
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UZMKaUBFR_0/Ti8hP3Gp9QI/AAAAAAAAAZk/v-gVtHnYRoU/s1600/PortsmouthRICoalMine1911.jpg

With that in mind, do we know with any certainty where the original railroad may have acquired their coal from?

Steve

Richard Cavalloro

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Re: Rhode Island and South Eastern Massachusetts coal
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2014, 12:44:49 AM »
Theres a huge shopping center where coal and Graphite was mined in Cranston RI.   Every so often a hold appears in a parking lot where a shaft has collapsed.

Bill Sample

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Re: Rhode Island and South Eastern Massachusetts coal
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2014, 01:23:01 AM »
I remember a Cranstonian saying that the coal mined in Rhode Island was generally used for stationary boilers - he didn't remember any going for "portable" (locomotive) use.  Beside the Cranston mine there was also one out in Aquidneck Island in Portsmouth. 
 

John Stone

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Re: Rhode Island and South Eastern Massachusetts coal
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2014, 01:43:06 AM »
Didn't the W.W.&F. have an arrangement for transferring coal from ships at the far south end of the line?

Andre Anderson

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Re: Rhode Island and South Eastern Massachusetts coal
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2014, 01:59:44 PM »
There are coal mines in just about every state, the problem is that most of it is of such pore quality that it is not worth digging out of the ground. Here in Oregon there were several coal mines down by Coos Bay Oregon, they even had a narrow gauge railway to get it to the port in Coos Bay, but figured out that they would make more money hauling wood than selling coal because of the poor quality. Black Diamond Washington got its name from coal and at the bottom of Lake Washington there is a complete narrow gauge train, it got there when the barge that it was on sank.

Andre

Rick Sisson

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Re: Rhode Island and South Eastern Massachusetts coal
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2014, 05:39:27 PM »
There were two shafts dug on the west side of Portsmouth on Aquidneck Island (RI).
Some of the coal was shipped on the Old Colony line but much of it was used locally.
The coal was of terrible quality - you didn't get much heat from it.

Stephen Piwowarski

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Re: Rhode Island and South Eastern Massachusetts coal
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2014, 07:16:00 PM »
I guess at some point the New Haven actually tried burning Rhode Island coal in their locomotives at the behest of a board member who also owned an interest in the mine. Needless to say, it didn't last for very long. Read more here: [url]http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/findaids/Chase/uconn_asc_2003-0037_009.pdf/[url]

Steve
« Last Edit: November 04, 2014, 10:54:08 PM by Stephen Piwowarski »

Philip Marshall

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Re: Rhode Island and South Eastern Massachusetts coal
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2014, 10:38:40 PM »
According to a US Geological Survey publication titled "The Bedrock Geology of Rhode Island", the coal in Rhode Island is highly metamorphosed "meta-anthracite" or graphite with very limited fuel value because of its high ash content and low volatile combustible content. Nonetheless, the Cranston mine is supposed to have been in operation until as recently as 1959, though mostly as a source of industrial graphite.

Wasn't graphite used as a lubricant for cylinders and crossheads? Maybe it's possible the WW&F used some after all. :)

Stephen Piwowarski

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Re: Rhode Island and South Eastern Massachusetts coal
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2014, 11:00:03 PM »
I have heard that the meta-anthracite was used in various processes requiring graphite. I was not musing that coal from Rhode Island ever made its way to the WW&F. I am pretty sure that it would be as likely to burn in a 2 foot locomotives small firebox as wet water. However, I do wonder where the WW&F was acquiring its coal from.

Steve
« Last Edit: November 05, 2014, 12:01:34 AM by Stephen Piwowarski »

John Stone

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Re: Rhode Island and South Eastern Massachusetts coal
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2014, 12:52:25 AM »
I would guess the most economical source for coal would have been that which was unloaded dockside from colliers. Many of the eastern coal roads had marine fleets to haul coal to the New England ports from the North Jersey coal docks, Port Richmond in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Norfolk. I think the idea was getting the revenue for the maximum amount of the haul, rather than share with other rail carriers. NMRA Bulletin did a neat series of articles on some of these operations quite a few years ago. Some of the crafts commonly used were "Schooner Barges" towed by steam tugs. These ungainly craft had masts to carry sails and tillers to be operated by an onboard crewman.
They would be strung out on long tow lines behind the tug, 3 or 4 in a tow. Back in these "good old days", if the weather turned sour and the tug got into trouble, the lines would be cut to save the tug and crew. Those poor fellows on the awkward, heavily loaded barges would be left to fend for themselves. Didn't normally work out to good!

OK, now that I've wandered all over the east coast, at great loss of life (and probably readers interest), I think the W.W.&F. probably bought their coal from ships. They had the facility and I'm sure the price was right.

One question: Would a ship (or barge) normally unload it's entire cargo at a port like Wiscasset, or would it parcel it out at various destinations?

Philip Marshall

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Re: Rhode Island and South Eastern Massachusetts coal
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2014, 05:41:03 AM »
I would also expect the WW&F had its coal delivered by ship, but from the Railroad Commissioners' Reports it doesn't appear the company was saving any money by doing so. In fact, they were often paying more for coal than the other Two-Footers. In 1906 for example (to choose a year at random), the WW&F reported paying an average of $4.95 per ton of coal, whereas the Sandy River RR was paying $4.04 per ton on average, the KC was paying $4.22, and even the Monson reported paying just $3.90. (The Monson was burning both wood and coal in 1906 so it's possible they were able to economize by switching back and forth between fuels as the price of coal fluctuated, but still.) The only road paying more than the WW&F was the P&R at $5.00 even, but the P&R was dependent on the Sandy River to deliver their coal to Phillips, which must account for the extra expense. These numbers make little sense to me. Was someone ripping off the WW&F?
« Last Edit: November 05, 2014, 06:01:13 AM by Philip Marshall »