Something a little bit out of the ordinary on the Mansfield Branch

Discussion in 'Arthur Subdivision' started by john, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. john

    john Supporter

    I thought some might find this a bit interesting. I wish I knew more details about "how it all worked".

    Look at the coal mine photo first (the large file). The new tipple in the photo is at Quality No2 just east of the Mansfield Branch at Hackett, Arkansas. This tipple was in use from roughly 1948 to 1960. Enlarge the photograph and see what railroad feature made this mine a "little different", at least for an Arkansas mine.

    Or, if you are like me (every time someone does something like this on here I haven't got a clue), the answer can easily be seen in the mine's Frisco track diagram which is also attached (thanks for the track chart Andre).


    Attached Files:

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  2. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter


    It appears to be a gravity switched yard, read "hump" yard. It looks like the MV could shove a cut of cars onto the tail track, they would uncouple from the cut, then pull back into the clear, and then let gravity do the work of getting the cars into the proper location. Pretty cool.
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  3. Friscotony

    Friscotony Member

    Could it be that any interchange between the Midland Valley and the Frisco would be done by going through the tipple loading track?
  4. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    John, that is a swell picture! Having the track chart is very helpful, too. A lot of interesting detail in the photo - that pile of junk and old barrels in the foreground, and the vintage autos off behind the trees to the right: splendid! Thanks for sharing.

    Best Regards,
  5. john

    john Supporter

    First of all let me plainly state that I do not understand what was going on here! Also I need to include a detail which I originally considered unimportant. This mine actually had a double tail (two tracks). I have seen that feature in area mines before, it doubled the car capacity in the available space. In this case, for some unknown reason, that small detail is omitted from the Frisco track chart. The double tail appears on the mining company's map (and others) and is confirmed by the attached photo of the opposite (eastern) side of the tipple - probably dating from the early 1960's. The dates of the various maps make it appear that the double tail track was original construction from 1948.

    I agree with Karl that this appears to be a relatively standard (for western Arkansas) gravity switched tipple. My first impression was that it worked exactly as he described it (and for the record I still think so - as far as the explanation goes).

    It also sounds like Friscotony is seeing the problem that bothers me. Interchange, through a loading tipple? Why interchange here at all with one already setup at Maney Junction (Rock Island, OK) only a few miles down the respective tracks?

    Although this arrangement looks OK in most ways - it is difficult to justify in some ways. Did all the loaded MV cars leave via Frisco? Was Frisco switching them for the MV (back to their track)? Did both railroads operate their locomotives under the tipple (MV retrieve their own cars)?? Again, why connect the tracks at all? If the tipple had been extended a short distance further it could have accomodated the Midland Valley as a completely separate operation, although certainly at a price in efficient operation of the tipple. My original thought about what made the photo unique was simply the fact that it involved two railroads. I am only aware of one other (much older) mine in Arkansas that could apparently be serviced by two different railroads at the same time, and that mining company solved the problem in a completely different way. They just built a separate tipple on each railroad.

    Employee time tables and other usual sources have been of no help. The Frisco track was apparently included in the Hackett Yard Limits (various ETT's - Hackett, track capacity 423 cars). The Midland Valley lists this as LARK (Lewis Arkansas - for the mine owner?) mp 3.5, station 4, car capacity 70 cars. There is no mention in either railroad's special instructions.

    I'm trying to locate additional photos that better illustrate the track (I especially would like to know if that is a gate on the MV that I faintly see in the background of the first photo) and perhaps someone with first hand experience with this mine. I will post the answer if I ever find it.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 23, 2011
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  6. slsfrr (Jerome Lutzenberger RIP 9/1/2018)

    slsfrr (Jerome Lutzenberger RIP 9/1/2018) Engineer Staff Member Supporter


    What is under the tipple. I first I thought it was railroad cars, but upon closer examination they look like rolls of hay. That sign might be a red board for track out of service.

  7. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    The picture in John's newest post is obviously post-operations of the mine. It appears a farmer is using the shelter of the tipple to get some hay bales out of the weather.

    I believe that the track outside (to the left of the tipple) is the line we see running along the top of the diagram. It appears the MV came onto the property at the left of the first picture. Empties would have been shoved up onto the "hump" from the right (in the picture) by the Frisco. When the MV brought empties in, they would have had to shove them from the left (in the picture) onto the hump.
  8. mvtelegrapher

    mvtelegrapher Member

    I would not be surprised to find out that all of the tracks serving this mine were actually owned by the mining company, therefore it would not be unusual for both railroads to be able to serve this industry and share the use of these tracks. Here in southeast Kansas several of the larger mines were served by more than one railroad and in almost all cases the tracks were owned by the mining company. One of the largest, P&M, actually owned a spur over five miles long that the Missouri Pacific used to access the P&M tipple located in West Mineral which was also served by the Katy. I'm sure that the MV and the SLSF did not interchange cars here, for that to happen the location would have to be adopted as an interchange point and routing would have to be put onto any cars waybilled through this point. If you have an open and prepay stations or rule 260 junction book for this time frame or an official guide it should show all interchange points for the MV and the SLSF.

    John Chambers
  9. john

    john Supporter

    Somewhere in the foggy corners of my memory I believe that I once saw a different photo of the (abandoned?) mine which showed large fuel tanks, the kind some older gas stations once used above ground, stored under the tipple.

    I had considered the idea of a private switch. Certainly a number of industries in Fort Smith were set up this way all through the 1900's. The thing that bothered me about the idea was the separate Midland Valley and Frisco approach tracks. If these belonged to the mining company (and they may have), they lost an opportunity to save a lot of money.
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  10. wmrx

    wmrx MP Trainmaster

    I would say that those round objects under the tipple do look more like fuel tanks rather than hay bales.

    Industries that are served by more than one railroad are fairly common. The former Raston-Purina mill, now Cargill Oilseeds, in Kansas City, MO is served by Union Pacific (formerly Missouri Pacific) and Kansas City Southern. Each RR has access to all tracks only from opposite ends. This setup keeps each railroad's cars on their end of the tracks. I would venture to say that a similar situation existed at this mine.
  11. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Whether they be tanks or hay stored, I'm intrigued by the mules that seem to have full run of the place.

    Best Regards,
  12. john

    john Supporter

    OK, I just finished up a very long discussion with a very well informed Sebastian County resident. He provided me with a great deal of information on several things which have been discussed on this website. This gentleman has been involved with mining and the railroad industry for longer than most of us, including myself, have been around. He told me that he has always had a thirst for historical information and he certainly held a vast amount of it in his head.

    The subject here is the Quality #2 Mine near Hackett, Arkansas and the arrangement for loading by the Frisco and the Midland Valley from the same tipple. As usual I was trying to make things too difficult. He took one look at a photo of the tipple (already posted here) and without being prompted, explained how it worked. The short answer is that the Midland Valley only carried one grade of coal from this mine ("limited amounts" of "mine run") and loaded it on their track from the end of the tipple. They never (to his knowledge) mixed their cars or car handling with the Frisco cars under the tipple. The operation was completely separated.

    I hope to have access to a couple of great photos I saw of this mine in operation (loading coal) and plan to post a couple of them here if they become available to me.

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