Steel mill Operations??

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by Molesplace, Apr 27, 2005.

  1. Molesplace

    Molesplace New Member

    Apr 7, 2005
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    I'm looking for any information to layout a steel mill operation. What type of rolling stock and their origins and destinations. I've searched the web for info from Railroad sites to Steel Mill sites. Just not getting enough info to begin planning. Web sites, books, or anyone who has constructed this type of layout would help.
  2. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Apr 28, 2003
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    Interesting, i just recieved an email regarding USS operations in Duluth Minn.(shut down in the 70's
    Here is the correspondance
    While I lived in Duluth for over three years in the early 1980s, never paid
    much attention to who did what in West Duluth. My query concerns how the USS
    Duluth Works was supplied with raw materials and how the finished products
    were taken out.

    1) Iron Ore: I assume this was brought down from Proctor to Steelton.

    2) Limestone/Coking Coal: I know these materials were brought in by lake
    freighter. I am pretty sure Hallet was involved in off-loading these
    materials in Duluth since I have photos of Hallet cars in the works.
    Question is what line brought these materials to the mill from Hallet? The
    NP? Did the Missabe have any trackage rights? The NP line went behind the
    works to Fond du Lac, but I doubt USS would have had an outside railroad
    haul stuff for them if they could do it themselves. Could the Missabe have
    hauled the limestone/coal up to Proctor and back down to Steelton?

    3) Steel Scrap: Could come from any railroad. Again, how was it brought to
    the mill?

    4) Finished products: It appears the Missabe's fleet of gondolas and
    flatcars would not have been large enough for outside distribution, so where
    might the cars come from? Again, did the Missabe do the
    Steelton-Proctor-Duluth route, or were they taken out through West Duluth?

    5) Portland Cement: I have photos that show many non-USS-owned railroad cars
    loading at the Universal Atlas Cement plant, especially Great Northern and
    Milwaukee Road cars.

    Final question: Who were the owners of Duluth Transfer and did it get to the
    steel works?

    Thanks much in advance for any assistance. This info is for my new HO scale
    layout on the Duluth Works which will be modeled almost entirely in scale.
    Also will be modeling Interlake Iron's "Zenith Furnace" merchant iron plant
    (I know the plant shutdown in the early 1960s). Period is set in 1972, with
    a possible backdate to 1952.


    1) Iron Ore: I assume this was brought down from Proctor to
    Yes, via the Spirit Lake Transfer line.

    2) Limestone/Coking Coal:
    DM&IR via trackage rights over the Duluth Transfer Railway. I
    believe the Missabe handled most of the plant's limestone and coal
    needs through their own facility just east of the ore docks until the
    late 1950s or early 1960s, after which I'm guessing Hallett picked up
    the business. The DTRy was basically a subsidiary of the NP (started
    off as an independent terminal operation near the West End of Duluth
    and worked west, eventually building to the mill area). The NP's
    original line into Duluth (ex-LS&M) that ran behind the plant didn't
    have direct access to mill interchange, although the mill's slag
    railroad did cross it on a diamond heading out to "slag point" in the
    St. Louis River (at one time USS considered using Slag Point as a pier
    for ore boats to bring in coal and limestone then take out finished

    3) Steel Scrap: Could come from any railroad. Again, how was it
    brought to
    the mill?
    By the Missabe via the Interstate and Spirit Lake routes. They also
    hauled much material from the scrap yards in Duluth via the DTRy.

    4) Finished products: Any other railroad cars were possible (some
    Basgen shots show numerous foreign road cars of all types being used).
    The primary distribution for finished products was via the Interstate
    Branch to connecting railroads south of Superior (NP at Pokegama, GN
    at Saunders, Soo at Ambridge (or a small yard just south of M&J), and
    the Omaha at South Itasca. It would be interesting to know where cars
    to the DSS&A were handed off, after the South Shore's line through
    Peyton was abandoned shortly after the Interstate Branch was

    5) Portland Cement:
    Same deal as the finished product, many off-line cars used.

    Final question: Who were the owners of Duluth Transfer and did it
    get to the
    steel works?
    See #2. The line itself got to the east side of Morgan Park where
    it connected to the DM&N. I asked an old NP hoghead many years ago if
    they ever ran out to the mill and he said no, the Missabe handled
    everything, at least during his memory from the 1950s onward.

    Thats a start for you.I'll see what else i can come up with. I'm home for lunch and have to get back to work. I'll look to see what i have this evening to help you out. :)
  3. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Jun 18, 2002
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  4. Molesplace

    Molesplace New Member

    Apr 7, 2005
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    That's the info that I needed. Looks as though I'm following in the foot steps of many others. If anyone else is looking for this type of info there is a second book by Dean Freytag called Cyclopedia of Industrial Modeling. I've not put my hands on either book yet but I will when I find them. Here is another site I found in my recent searching: 0209.html
  5. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Sep 7, 2005
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    The steel plant where I worked received most of its raw materials, like coal, iron ore, and limestone by lake freighter. We occasionally received cold ingots or slabs in gondolas. Outbound loads were coils in gondolas, usually uncovered, plate steel on flatcars, coiled heavy wire (for re-drawing elswhere), and bar products, both in gondolas also. We also shipped out cold ingots or slabs. Curiously, at least to me, was what seemed to be a rather regular movement of coils of tinplate in Union Pacific 50' plugdoor boxcars. These were shipped on heavy duty wooden pallets.
    More interesting to me were the many types of in-plant equipment, including three different types of ingot buggies, one style with lower than normal couplers. This necessitated use of a "goat", an old buggy with a homemade body and dual couplers on one end. There were also "egg-crate" cars, which carried hot ingots upright (more or less) and were used to free up the buggies and stools for immediate re-use. There was, of course, an eclectic collection of scrap and sludge gondolas, slag pots and torpedo cars. Coal was moved from the coal docks to the coke ovens in 3-bay outside ribbed hoppers, which were also used to move the coke to the blast furnaces. Hot and cold slabs were moved in-plant on "high-riser" cars: these were, for the most part, built on the cast steel underframes of old steam locomotive tenders, and rode on six-wheel trucks. All of the brake gear was stripped off, then heavy plate steel sides and ends were added to the cars, along with heavy (about 2" thick) steel risers about two feet high running crosswise on the car. These were to facilitate the use of a crane equipped with a bale with large double 'C' hooks to load the slabs, stacked four at a time. There was about 10' or 12' in the centre of the car with no risers. The entire top of the added-on sides and ends extended above the original tender floor by about six inches: this area was filled with crushed stone, I assume to keep the car and trucks from getting too hot. If not so originally equipped, all highrisers were fitted with roller bearings on the trucks. In addition to all the extra body weight, and gravel, the cars were rated to carry 160 tons of steel. This plant also rostered several common carrier tank cars with the company reporting marks: these were used for shipping coke oven by-products.
    During times when a labour contract was due to expire, and it looked like a strike was imminent, several 50' mechanical reefers would be spotted within the plant. These held food and supplies for the supervisory personnel, who were expected to stay in-plant throughout the strike period, in order to maintain those facilities which would be "hot idled", such as the blast furnaces, open hearths, and soaking pits. As long as there was sufficient coal on hand, the coke ovens continued to run, with the "green hats" (management) doing all the grunt work.
    The plant locomotives, about two dozen, were mostly EMD/GMD SW-7s and-9s, but all had flat roofs on the cabs, as some of the older mill buildings had very limited overhead clearance between the top of the locomotive and the bottom of overhead crane cabs. There were also a few GE centrecabs, not sure what model, but quite a bit bigger than a 44 tonner.
    We also had an American derrick, a weed sprayer car (old 40' flat with a tank and some hoses, and a small gas engine to power the pump) and a snow melter. The snow melter was similar to one that I saw featured in Trains magazine on the NYC. It consisted of a low body on small wheels (like those of a speeder), with a large "nozzle" that looked like part of an old vacuum cleaner sticking out the front end. The "melter" power was supplied by a jet engine, with the contraption being pushed by a locomotive and idler car. Really loud and apt to blast anything nearby with loose debris from around the tracks.
    I have a few (very few) pictures which I am unable to post until I acquire a scanner. Let me know if it would be of any interest to you. (These are mostly locomotives)

  6. MissabeMike

    MissabeMike New Member

    May 6, 2006
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    I belong to this group since I also model the steel industry and like to follow the current happenings. The membership is really good at helping eachother out with any questions that someone may have.

    They can also provide some interesting links to other steel mill layouts and books and such. Give it a try. You might like it.