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Modeling 'The Gilpin Tram' - pt.II
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 Posted: Fri Sep 29th, 2017 07:22 am
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Keith Pashina
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The Polar Star Mill and Ore Chutes




This is a Ronzio photo from the Gilpin Railroad Era. Of interest here is the 2' gauge Gilpin Tram spur to the ore chutes, and the trestle for unloading ore into the Polar Star Mill. At the ore chutes, there are 4, 3' gauge C&S gondolas waiting to be loaded with ore from the ore chutes. One Gilpin Tram ore car sits on the ore chute dump track above. There are 8 loaded Gilpin Tram ore cars to the left of the C&S gondolas. They are sitting on a 2' gauge track that seems to be use for ore car storage while waiting to be unloaded. Immediately above the Polar Star Mill is the Eagle Mill. The Eagle Mill was served only by the C&S, and never by the Gilpin Tram

There was a lot of interesting switching activity around the ore chutes and transfer track. This information is from C&S records in the Colorado Railroad Museum archives. Some moves that were documented in 1907:
  • Transfer of C&S cars 4858, 4106, and 4037 from the Hidden Treasure Mill to the C&S Transfer
  • Switching C&S cars 7625 and 4065 from the Polar Star Mill to the C&S Transfer
  • Other car switching was of C&S gondolas 4226, 4245, 4895 and 4140 in October 1907, from the Hidden Treasure Mill to the C&S ore chutes. 
  • These switching moves refer to switching of 3’ gauge gondolas by the Gilpin Tram, on the dual gauge track.

The Polar Star Mill was literally right next to the ore transfer chutes.  The transfer chutes were built to easily dump ore that was going to a Black Hawk area mill into C&S gondolas for shipment elsewhere. I speculate the ore chutes were located here because of a convenient space for a 2’ gauge spur and because the track was up on a trestle already, to reach the Polar Star Mill.  Photographs from the era show that the ore chutes were built from timber, and later mostly filled in with dirt and rock.  The chutes were just that – a metal trough where Gilpin Tram ore cars dumped directly into a waiting C&S gondola below – there was no storage bin.  A pair of ore chutes was constructed, spaced for two Gilpin Tram ore cars.  The entire ore chutes spur was only long enough for two ore cars.  Again, simple, compact, and an ideal scene to model.






This enlargement of a photo is from the Denver Public Library, Western History Collection. A &S passenger train to Central City is passing the Polar Star Mill. A loaded C&S gondola may have been loaded from the ore chutes, and dropped by gravity to in front of the Polar Star Mill. There are 2 loaded Gilpin Tram ore cars sitting on the ore chutes track, waiting to be dumped into C&S gondolas. The trestlework at right supports the Gilpin's 2' gauge unloading spur. The doors are shut on the structure where the cars were unloaded. This structure is actually a warming shed, heated by steam pipes in winter for thawing frozen ore in the Gilpin cars

Polar Star Mill

The Polar Star Mill is a distinctive structure, still standing today. The Polar Star Mill actually is the 2nd structure on this site, and replaced an earlier wooden mill.  The existing mill is a simple structure, with stonewalls and a post and beam-supported sloping roof.  Unlike what we think as a “typical” mill, the Polar Star Mill was built on a relatively level site and does not have the typical cascading construction of the a building constructed on the side of a hillside. This different look appealed to me.  The mill walls are about 2’ thick rough stonewalls, mortared together with local stone on the nearby mountainsides. The Polar Star Mill was built before construction of the Gilpin Tram, so when the tramway was built, the spur to the mill was built on a wooden trestle above the driveway for horse-drawn wagons to also deliver ore to the mill.  That same trestle also had a warming shed for thawing out frozen ore cars in the winter, before dumping into the mill.



This view is from the Ronzio collection, and published in the Gilpin Railroad Era. A UPD&G boxcar is parked on the dual gauge track in front of the Polar Star Mill. Two or more loaded 3' gauge gondolas can be seen behind it. This is also a nice view of the south end of the Gilpin Tram unloading trestle



Remember this photo previously posted here? This is looking south along Clear Creek, towards Black Hawk and shows the transfer, ore chutes, Polar Star Mill and other buildings





This is a similar view to the previous photo, showing Black Hawk about 10 years ago. There has been even more casino development and construction since then. A lot has changed in the past 100 years. However, the Polar Star Mill still stands - it can be seen with the light-colored roof, immediately above the green-roofed municipal building in right foreground









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 Posted: Fri Sep 29th, 2017 07:36 am
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Keith Pashina
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Here is the Polar Star Mill about 15 years ago. It is privately owned by the Blake family, and has been in that family for many decades. This is a wonderful example of stone wall construction. The present roof is a new membrane, and not the original roof material (I don't know what the original roof covering was)

Polar Star Mill

How big was this mill? Well, the 1902 Mining Reporter Magazine reported the mil was operating 40 "slow-drop" stamps, and had a capacity of 40 tons per day. That equates to about 4 to 5 Gilpin Tram ore cars, but this mill also received ore from wagon teams, so this makes the mill a very-modelable size.





This view is looking east at the west wall of the Polar Star Mill. The bathtub-shaped stone enclosure in the foreground was the end of the water flume, which diverted water for Clear Creek during high creek flows, and was used to power an interior water wheel that powered the stamps and machinery





This is the business side of the Polar Star Mill - the Gilpin Tram ore trestle would have been on the left side of this photo, above the "road". The small doors on this wall are for unloading ore into the mill. The Polar Star Mill predates the construction of the Gilpin Tram. The ore trestle for the 2' gauge spur was a late addition, and an unusual ore chute arrangement was used to unload ore cars - I will explain in more detail, later






This is the northwest end of the Polar Star Mill, about 15 years. I had special permission from Norm Blake, then his son Kent, to be on the their property to photograph the mill. This little wood addition was possibly a stable for mules/horses




This view shows the stacked stone construction, mortared together. This photo was taken about 15 years ago, before a recent repair/restoration of the mill building. The eroded mortar joints have since been repointed. Note the heavy wooden window sill, and lintel at the top of the window. The stone walls are about 2' thick, so the lintels and sills are built of heavy wooden boards laid side-by side

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 Posted: Fri Sep 29th, 2017 07:43 am
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Keith Pashina
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More Polar Star Mill info...






This view shows the inside of the Polar Star, after restoration. The mortared stone walls are clearly visible. The current owner uses part of the mill as a workshop




During a owner-given building tour, I took this photo of the inside of the cupola structure that projects above the roof. Originally, this cupola covered the top of the wooden water wheel that powered the mill machinery during high water flow along Clear Creek. Today, all of the original mill machinery is gone from the building




About 20 years ago, the Blake family had several parts of mill machinery laying on the ground next to the Polar Star Mill. Norm Blake told me in about 1992 that this cam and bull wheel were from a slow-drop stamp originally from the Randolph Mill (which is further south along Clear Creek and the subject of a future post)





This little shed was modified by the Blake family and used as a donkey barn when I first saw it in 1990. Norm Blake told me at one time, this little structure was the mill office for the Randolph Mill



This photo is looking east, over the Polar Star Mill building. Black Hawk residences, most which date back 100 years or more, are on the opposite side of Clear Creek. The home at far left was the Blake home, and apparently has been in their family since the late 1800s

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 Posted: Fri Sep 29th, 2017 07:48 am
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Keith Pashina
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If you drive into Black Hawk, you see this mill building just north of the Polar Star Mill. This mill post-dates the Gilpin Tram period, and is a relatively modern addition. I think it was built in the 1930s or 1950s. An interesting structure, but too modern if you model the Gilpin Tram



I'll post this map again, so you can reorient yourself to where we are in Black Hawk. We have looked over a lot of activity in a compact area - something that draws me to this as a scene that would be fun to model



This is a Ronzio view from Gilpin Railroad Era. We are looking north at the Polar Star Mill at center, and the Eagle Mill is on the right hand edge of the photo, just above the white-painted railroad crossing sign

The next mill along the tracks was the interesting Eagle Mill, across the track from the Polar Star Mill, and served by the C&S. That will be the subject of the next posts.
Keith






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 Posted: Fri Sep 29th, 2017 09:13 am
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W C Greene
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Keith, this is fascinating information and we all appreciate it. Thank you so much for keeping this thread going and the "now & then" photos bring the GT to life. We who model mining and narrow gauge railways owe you our gratitude.
Keep the faith!

Woodie



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 Posted: Fri Sep 29th, 2017 06:51 pm
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Herb Kephart
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I agree with Woodrow, Keith.
It is almost incomprehensible (50¢) what you have done compiling information.
I, for one, thank you.

If you don't care to publish--and I hope that you do publish--how about selling a disk with all the info on it? A lot less cost to you, and you might end up with more $$ than publishing.

Herb



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 Posted: Sun Oct 1st, 2017 08:34 am
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Keith Pashina
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Herb and Woodie,
Thank you for the nice comments. It is a lot of fun researching, posting and sharing Gilpin Tram information with other enthusiasts.  And, remember that the original goal was to research the railroad enough so I could build accurate models.  Well, that project kind of grew. But, I need to continue with looking at Blackhawk, because I am getting anxious about deciding what I want to model in my HOn30 Blackhawk portion of my home layout!

The Eagle Mill

The Eagle Mill was located across the tracks and just a little bit south of the Polar Star Mill. Check out my previous post, and there is a C&S track map showing this arrangement.

There is not too much information I have been able to find out about this mill. This mill had 35 fast-drop stamps, and a capacity of 75 tons of ore per day. Compare this to the Polar Star Mill, which although the buildings were of similar size, had a capacity of only 40 tons per day with its 40 slow drop stamps.
  I do not know when it was built or when it ceased operations. In 1917, Bastin reported in his USGS report that the mill had been owned by the same company that operated the Next President Mine in Gregory Gulch, and their ore was treated by this mill. I do not know if this mill processed other mills' ores, or was used only by the one mine.

The Next President Mine was located alongside the Colorado and Southern Railway branch to Central City. It was not directly served by the C&S, and I believe all the ore was teamed by wagon down to Black Hawk.



The Eagle Mill had a C&S 3' gauge spur on its east side. A C&S gondola can be seen on the left side of the mill, and probably had unloaded a load of coal. On the right side of the mill, there are 8 small hatches that are open - these doors are in the open position, and where wagons would be unloaded by hand-shoveling the ore into the receiving bins





This is a view of the Eagle Mill from the 1907 Mining Investor Magazine, and shows the south (downstream) side of the mill. This photo was taken later than the previous photo, and the ore unloading bin doors are now covers by a building addition. The dual gauge C&S-Gilpin Tram trackage wound its way between the mill and the barn-like building at the left






Here is the Sanborn Fire Insurance map showing the Eagle Mill at about the turn of the last century. The steam pipe crossed the tracks and served a City water pumping station. The track shown was actually dual gauge 2' and 3' trackage




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 Posted: Sun Oct 1st, 2017 08:43 am
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This view is from the Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, and shows the north (upstream) side of the Eagle Mill. Two C&S gondolas are parked on the coal unloading spur - one car has been unloaded and the other one appears partially unloaded. The dual gauge Gilpin Tram and C&S track appears on the right side of the mill. In the background can be seen part of the 50 Gold Mines Mill






This drawing is from an accident report where a worker was struck and killed when switching by the Eagle Mill - they struck the steam pipe support for the steam line going to the City water pump house. There is a lot of information about this incident in Darel Leedy's C&S Blog. If you go to the link, http://c-sng-discussion-forum.41377.n7.nabble.com/A-bad-day-in-Black-Hawk-or-how-I-lost-my-head-td1045.html  , you can read all about this incident. This image was one posted in that blog post





Last, I wanted to post this image, originally posted by Todd Hackett in the same blog post in Darel Leedy's C&S blog mentioned above and at the same link. This is a similar image to one I posted previously, but shows a slightly different view of the C&S-to-Gilpin Tram transfer. Three Gilpin Tram coal cars are on the siding. The left-most one has the end panel lowered prior to loading. There are three C&S gondolas parked on the transfer track. You can see the barn or similar structure that was located between the transfer area and the dual gauge "mainline" track

Just around the corner is the very large and interesting 50 Gold Mines Mill - that will be our next stop.
Keith





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 Posted: Tue Oct 3rd, 2017 06:19 am
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Keith Pashina
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POLAR STAR MILL AND ORE CHUTES - THE MODEL




The Polar Star Mill and Ore Chutes transfer to the C&S can be modeled relatively easily without taking up too much space. This is an HO model I built for my HOn30 layout in 2007. You are looking at my version of the ore chutes transfer (where the Gilpin ore car is sitting), and the Polar Star Mill behind it. It is hard to see easily, but the 2nd and 4th tracks from the left are dual gauge HOn30 and HOn3. I found that by using Code 40 rail, I could get dual gauge track. The rails are so close together because HOn30 is actually closer to 33" gauge rather than the 30" gauge it is supposed to depict




The Polar Star Mill model was scratch built. This construction photo shows the styrene shapes used to frame the ore unloading spur trestle. The Polar Star Mill walls are some nicely detailed plaster wall castings formerly available from CC Crow



The ore chutes were built up on styrofoam. The rock walls were painted resin castings, made from master I cast, molded, and poured. The ore chutes did not swing up - I think they were fixed into place. There was no ore holding bin - the workers would release the bottom dump hatches on the Gilpin Tram ore cars, and it would dump out into waiting 3' gauge gondolas below




This shows the start of the ore unloading spur on the trestle to the Polar Star Mill. 









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 Posted: Tue Oct 3rd, 2017 06:28 am
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Keith Pashina
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POLAR STAR MILL AND ORE CHUTES - THE MODEL



Shay number 2 is about to pull out two emptied ore cars from the ore chutes, as shown on this HOn30 model



Here is an aerial view of the backside (mountainside) of the Polar Star Mill and ore chutes. This model is compressed about 20% in size from actual, built this way to better fit into the space I then had on my layout. 




Here, a teamster is shown unloading ore from a wagon into the ore bin doors on the backside of the Polar Star Mill. The diagonal bar is a model of an ore chute for diverting ore dumped from Gilpin Tram ore cars above into the ore bins. The metal chute was hung from hooks under the ore unloading trestle (inside the warming shed built onto the trestle), and the lower end was fitted into one of the ore doors. This cumbersome arrangement was needed because the Polar Star Mill was built decades before the Gilpin Tram being built, as it was originally constructed for wagons only. The trestle above was a creative way to get ore into the mill. The ore wagon is a modified HO Jordan beer wagon, with horses from Musket Miniatures

If you want more information on the Polar Star Mill, check out the November 2005 issue of the Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette. Joe Crea published an excellent article, photos, and scale drawings of this mill.
Keith




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