Rush Island Coal Train

Discussion in 'General' started by patrick, May 1, 2001.

  1. patrick

    patrick Guest

    There is a coal burning power plant along the Mississippi that the Frisco and MoPac operated a join unit coal train. Does anyone know what hoppers they used?
  2. nicholas

    nicholas Guest


    The coal hoppers for the joint UP-SLSF Rush Tower trains were almost exclusively UP in the 39000 series blt in 1976 and others. They are a red-oxide color.

    Nick Molo
  3. jim

    jim Guest

    In an earlier time (1962/63), the MoPac operated a unit coal train on the River. I never knew where the coal went but was told the train was loaded going north out of Memphis and went to (through?) St. Louis. I was working summers on the bridge gang and saw only MoPac power.

    An interesting tale (as told to me by one of the MoPac crew members) was that the unit cars had a design flaw that made most trips interesting. It seems the truck centers were the same length as the rail sections (39 feet as I remember). Under certain load conditions, this caused the cars to start osolating and every once in a while, they would jump right up and off the track. Needless to say, this was not one of his favorite assignments. I never saw one leave the rail, but I did see many trains through the summer and they really really were a sign of those times, just rockin' and rollin', and this was through a "slow order" work area.
  4. james

    james Guest

    The MP/BN movement of coal started in 1976 when the Rush Island Power Plant, owned by Union Electric (now Ameren UE) opened for business. Rush Island is located between Rush Tower and Brickeys on the River Division. Coal was sourced from Burning Star 4 mine in Illinois, which was served by MP. The train used rapid discharge open-top hoppers (UELX - marked) and MP power, usually 4-5 Screaming Eagle U30C's. The train was interchanged to the Frisco at Cape Giradeau and the Frisco crews took the entire train to the plant. The plant has a balloon track that can be accessed from the North or South.

    Toward the end of the 1970's, coal was sourced from the Powder River Basin (PRB) as it burned cleaner and more cheaply than Illinois coal. The trains were interchanged by the UP to Frisco at Kansas City. UP 4-pocket open tops were the equipment on these trains, series UP 37000 - 41000. I saw a mix of UP/Frisco, MP/Frisco trains in the late 1970's to the UP merger while living in Crystal City.

    Coal is now sourced exclusively from the PRB and moved BNSF direct to Rush Island. The plant takes around 1 train per day. All private equipment, rapid discharge type open top hoppers are now used to move coal to the plant.

    MDC rapid discharge hoppers would be a perfect fit for 1970's to present. The private cars were painted yellow (UP yellow would be close) or red (caboose red was be close here as well). Heavy weathering is appropriate and the cars soon faded with use in the coal industry.

    Good Luck!
  5. dwainbaltz

    dwainbaltz Guest

    I remember when the MP up graded the line from Capedeau(?)junction (on the MP-SLSW main east of Illmo) to Cape Girardeau. A new interchange track was built north of the crossing. The train was sometimes parked on the north yard lead to wait for the SLSF crew I guess. This is where the newbridge is being built. The track has now been pulled up from Cape to the Diversion Channel bridge. The cement plant used this track part of the time to reach some gumbo (?) pits. It was used in the manufacture of cement. The cement was used a ex Frisco 44 tonner with four wheel cars with link and pin couplers. This was in the early 60's late 50's. Equiptment is now gondolas. The MP-SLSF crossing was prorected with a swing gate normally set aginst the MP. It was bent along the bottom so trach speeders could cross with out having to stop and open and close the gate.
  6. george

    george Guest

    For the Jim Cowles message:

    The "rock and roll" was not a design flaw peculiar to this set of vehicles. It is a problem with any car whose truck centers are near the rail lengh. The history of the problem, and the solution is as follows:

    For many years the standard freight car was 40 foot long, 50 to 70 ton capacity. Rail lengths were, as you say, mostly in 39 foot lengths when new. Then it was decided in the 60's to build longer and heavier cars, generally 100 ton capacity. these were generally about 50 feet long with truck centers at 38 to 40 feet, in other words almost the same as the rail length. The problem occured when these things were running on jointed rail at a speed in the range of 13 to 18 miles per hour. Somewhere in this range the time taken to go 39 feet matched the natural frequency of the springs on the car. Just like giving a swing a series of small pushes, the cars would rock more and more until the wheels would be lifting off the rails. At that point, any lateral force at the wrong moment would cause the wheel flange to come down outside the rail or on top of the rail head and then go off the outside. Bingo! a derailment. When this first began happening it baffled everybody, because nothing unususal was happening in either the engine or the caboose. At the time a very common speed restriction into and out of sidings and through slow zones was 15 mph. Sometimes there would be no problem in the siding itself if it was laid with cropped rails (36', 33', etc.) or old short rails. Many things were tried, but ultimately the only solution was to avoid steady speeds between 10 mph and 20 mph on jointed track. It took some time for the resonance to build up, so in normal acceleration and braking the train would be out of the dangerous speed range before the rocking built up large enough to make a derailment likely. Today most main lines and lots of other tracks have welded rails.
  7. ken

    ken Guest

    I don't believe that the Marquette Cement Company's GE 44-Tonner was ex-SLSF; it was only painted in the same color scheme. I would be happy to see evidence of its origin.

    Ken McElreath
  8. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Re: Unit Coal Trains

    Browsing through some old "All Aboards" that I have. From the Oct./Nov. 1976 edition of Frisco Folks "River Division - Memphis Terminal" news by Roger Moxey:

    "Since the beginning of the Unit Coal Trains on October 24, 1975 a total of 100 trains have operated from Cape Girardeau to Rush Island and returned. The following crew members had the distinction of operating the 100th Train: Engineer JACK HANEY; Fireman BILL RHODES; Conductor LOMAN DUNIPHAN; Brakemen BOBBY JO NUNNALLY and JAY CASSOUT.

    And, from the February-March 1976 edition:

    "Brakeman J.W. "GABBY" POE has suggested that the River Division establish a golden key club (no connection to Hugh Heffner) for those trainmen who have had the experience and opportunity to qualify them on unloading the Unit Coal Train at Rush Island. Unloading a coal train in below freezing temperature, with the coal frozen in the cars, has become quite a challenge for the St. Louis Sub crews. The cars are unloaded with a special type key that actuates the air operated hopper doors on the cars. This key looks like an oversized allen wrench."
  9. timothy_cannon

    timothy_cannon Member Supporter

    Re: Coal Train

    I know this a reply to an old post but........ The 45 tonner at the Marquette Cement Co.(now Lone Star) was purchased new from GE and they still use it. I have a friend who works there and got me a copy of the original sales information sheet. When I get time I will scan and post it if anyone is interested.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2012
  10. pathowe

    pathowe Member

    Re: Coal Train

    From reading this thread it seems like the coal was delivered to Rush from Cape Girardeau. I wonder if it was always this way or if sometimes it was sent south from St. Louis. I only wonder this b/c I think there are pictures in the Frisco/Katy color guide to equipment that shows coal trains in St. Louis.
  11. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Re: Coal Train

    Up until the UP absorbed the MoP, the coal for Rush Island came from Southern Illinois and crossed the river at Thebes. It then came up the MoP tracks to MP Jct into the Frisco yard tracks at Cape. There were temporary service facilities there to service (mostly fuel) the MoP locomotives. A Frisco crew from Chaffee would come to Cape to lead the unit coal train to Rush Island and back. This was still happening when I graduated from SEMO in 1984.

    After the UP absorbed the MoP, coal started coming from the Powder River Basin as indicated and BN crews would take the lead from St Louis on River Division tracks to Rush Island.

    Additionally, Marquette Cement is mentioned a couple of times. When Marquette decided to dispose of the Davenport and Porter steam switch engines they had, they leased a Frisco GE 44 ton switcher, #4, for a brief period of time before finally purchasing their own GE 45 ton switcher. I have a copy of the original order specifications that Marquette submitted to GE for the puchase. It was originally painted in a scheme to match the black and yellow Frisco 44 tonner. When the plant was purchased by Lone Star Cement, it was repainted in a blue and white scheme with red trim. That 45 tonner survived on plant property at least to July 17, 2011, when I took pictures of the switcher that supplanted it, an EMD SW1500; WPIX #330. On that date, the 45 tonner was still sitting on the plant property, but it looked like it was no longer in service.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2012
  12. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    Re: Coal Train

    I wonder if there are any pictures of the Marquette Cement GE 45-ton loco in its original SLSF garb? That would be neat to see!

    FYI, the UP coal coming in from Wyoming is from the Powder River Basin.

  13. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Re: Coal Train

    I have not been able to find any pix of the Marquette 45 tonner in original paint scheme. Unfortunately, of all the pictures my dad took at Marquette, the switcher just wasn't in any.

    re: Powder River - I knew that and my fingers just didn't get the D in there. I corrected my post.

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