View single post by jtrain
 Posted: Thu Aug 20th, 2015 01:34 am
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Joined: Sun May 27th, 2012
Location: Missoula, Montana USA
Posts: 1000
Thanks for the info and kind words Kitbash and Lee B!

I thought I'd make another couple of additions this evening.  Probably the best thing I can describe this topic as would be a Journal or log, so I think I'll go with that.  Anyways, the next place I want to focus on is Butte, MT.  For anyone who has not seen Butte before, think of it as a cross between Hibbing MN, Cripple Creek CO, Lead CO, and Deadwood SD.  A lot of old buildings built before the great depression and many mine shafts litter the mountainside.  All the copper mines form a large arch along the north edge of town from west to east with the easternmost mines being completely destoryed by a large, inactive, pit mine.  On the west edge though, many mines still stand and many artifiacts can be found around town.  At the extreme western edge of town is the World Museum of Mining that has completely restored dozens of the town's original buildings as well as the Orphan Girl Mine, one of the largest original copper mines still intact.  The mine features a number of narrow gauge tracks, all about 20" gauge, a 3ft gauge rebuilt track to represent the transfer process and some short lengths of standard gauge.  I'll let the pictures take it from here:

Narrow gauge tracks can be seen in the lower right with 3ft gauge coming in from the foreground.  Visitors can travel up the stairway in the central portion of the picture to the mine head.  3 elevators big enough for one mine cart would carry 1-3 tons of ore to the top where the cars would be dumped, the ore sorted, and dropped into storage bins similar to the one shown on the left side of the picture.  4 large ore bins, which would have held various grade ore, would unload into waiting narrow gauge cars below.

Here we see an air compressed locomotive, this is perhaps the most common type built for mine usage.  In fact, this locomotive was likely used in Lead, South Dakota on the Homestake Mine.  Aside from about a dozen of these in South Dakota, one in Hibbing
Minnesota and one in Colorado Springs, Colorado, this is the latest one I've come across. Surprisingly, despite so many being preserved, only the one in Colorado Springs is still filled with air and demonstrated.  I guess we can't trust a 100+ year old air compressor.

These locomotives brought and end to compressed air, just as compressed air brought an end to donkeys inside the mines. Operating off of an electrical battery, these locomotives were cheaper, ran further than compressed air, and could haul at least the same tonnage.  the museum has several of these scattered about in various states of disrepair, this happens to be the most complete.  This would be a fine looking model for anyone interested.

This is a molten medal (slag) dump car used in the area of Butte in the large smelters.  This example is standard gauge and, based on the arch bar trucks, is quite old.

Probably my favorite example in the museum is this tiny 0-4-0.

Finally, every year Butte hosts a large music festival which is dedicated to the town's history, culture, and the folk music genre associated with mining, logging, and back country life.  What sets this festival apart from all others is one thing, the main stage is an old mine!  While others rust away, this one will be preserved for as long as Butte has a need for an outdoor stage.


James W.

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