With regard to Bob’s recent query about Afton Sub operations, it might add interest to the operation by adding chat trains from the Semple Pile.
The Tri-State area of Missouri, Kansas, And Oklahoma produced lead and zinc for nearly 100 years. Although mining began in Missouri during the 1850’s, primary production occurred between 1870 and 1970. Peak production occurred in the Tri-State Region during 1926.
The Warsaw Formation, the Keokuk Formation, and the Fern Glen Formation, Mississippian-aged, cherty, crinoidal, and oolitic limestones contained the sphalerite and galena, which are ores of zinc and lead. The waste product of the mining operations were dumped into large tailings piles. Locally this material was called chat. The major constituent of chat is chert, i.e., cryptocrystalline quartz. Chert is hard and breaks into angular grains which are two desirable properties for ballast to have. While there are other rock types that make for better railroad ballast, chert or chat provided the Frisco with a large quantity of on-line material.
The coarse-grained material 1-˝” - 2” material was used on the mainlines, and the fine material was used on the branch lines, back tracks and yards. By the 70’s, the coarse material had been depleted, and the Frisco began a search for other suitable rock. It built a quarry near Mill Creek, OK. This quarry still produces granite and granodiorite, which can be found on the BNSF throughout the Midwest.
Much of the chat came from what I always heard referred to as the Semple Pile. Semple was located on the NEO in Oklahoma, between Baxter Springs and Hockerville. The Frisco had 3 classes of cars that were dedicated to hauling company chat. The first class, 96000-96099,
carried 55 tons, and were built during 1946 at Yale Yard. The second class, 96100-96299, carried 77 tons, and were built during 1946 by ACF. The last class, 97000-97039, carried 86 tons, and were built during 1970 by Thrall. The legions of 55 ton - 70 ton twin bay hoppers also carried company ballast.