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Thread: Helena, MT Industries on Mullan's Pass

  1. #1
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    Default Helena, MT Industries on Mullan's Pass

    I'm curious about one of the industries in the Helena region on Mullan's Pass. What was the Montana Tunnels industry used for?

    CSX FAN

  2. #2
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    Being this is on the same track as the "log track", I would guess it's a woodchip loading track. Looking at google maps, it appears it was a truck to train transfer building as well, so makes sense.
    https://i.imgur.com/LPZNEX4.png
    Conductor - Eastern Maine Railway
    Probably on everyone's ignore list by now.

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    Thanks Shawn for that info.

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    Montana Tunnels was an open-pit mine located south of Helena. According to Google, the mine has been dormant since 2008. I assume they trucked material down from the mine to get loaded by rail.

    As of the time period that I modeled Mullan, that reload was a ghost town. I have not been able to find info on whether they loaded covered gondolas with ore concentrate, or if it was some other means of rail transport.
    ~Sean Kelly~
    MRL Mullan Pass for Open Rails: https://www.trainsimulations.net/mullanpass
    SP Shasta Route for Open Rails: In Development / Tracks 100%, Scenery 75%

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by PerryPlatypus View Post
    Montana Tunnels was an open-pit mine located south of Helena. According to Google, the mine has been dormant since 2008. I assume they trucked material down from the mine to get loaded by rail.

    As of the time period that I modeled Mullan, that reload was a ghost town. I have not been able to find info on whether they loaded covered gondolas with ore concentrate, or if it was some other means of rail transport.
    Hm, well, there goes my thoughts on switching out that facility for the Helena Switcher.
    https://i.imgur.com/LPZNEX4.png
    Conductor - Eastern Maine Railway
    Probably on everyone's ignore list by now.

  6. #6
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    Back in 2017 I got some answers about current Helena area switching operations. This was the general rundown:

    Pacific Steel & Recycling (spur west of the depot) gets 1 to 2 gondolas per MONTH. Generally only 1 gon at a time.

    Northwest Drywall & Roofing - 1 to 2 cars per month. Centerbeams of drywall and boxcars of shingles, loaded inbound. Centerbeams get spotted on the pavement pad over the tracks, boxcars at the warehouse. 6 axle locos are not allowed on this spur

    Gibson Energy - inbound LPG loaded tankcars. A few cars a month in summer, or 2-3 cars per DAY in winter. In winter, typically 6 loads are spotted at one time. When first 3 are unloaded, the empties are pulled and the 3 loads behind are spotted. Then when those last 3 loads are emptied, they are pulled and a new 6 loads arrive

    At East Helena, American Chemet gets 1-2 inbound loaded 60' boxcars of scrap copper per week. Cars are "interchanged" at the small yard west of the plant (a trackmobile transfers the cars in and out of the building).

    That's it for getting service as of 2017. There are a lot of other industries that probably have come and gone over the years.

    (The Helena Switch also builds outbound cuts or breaks apart inbound cuts off of the MISLAU and LAUMIS trains.)
    ~Sean Kelly~
    MRL Mullan Pass for Open Rails: https://www.trainsimulations.net/mullanpass
    SP Shasta Route for Open Rails: In Development / Tracks 100%, Scenery 75%

  7. #7
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    Fantastic to hear what still takes place for the Helena Switcher. Looks like I got at least four hours worth of yard duty to create.
    Biggest reason I was also trying to push out my recent packs, to use for such activities I plan to create and hopefully release.

    I'm thinking Helena Switcher, A loaded grain train, requiring helpers, a stack & rack train that will require helpers, a bare table train, and hopefully an empty Boardmans coal drag.

    https://i.imgur.com/LPZNEX4.png
    Conductor - Eastern Maine Railway
    Probably on everyone's ignore list by now.

  8. #8
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    Good info Sean about the Helena industries. I have googled the area around Phosphate for the old phosphate yard and couldn't find any pictures of the operations that used to be there. Would you happen to know what was all there for them to load phosphate into the railcars? Maybe I could fictionalize a train going into that spur to work the industry.

    CSX FAN

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by CSX FAN View Post
    Good info Sean about the Helena industries. I have googled the area around Phosphate for the old phosphate yard and couldn't find any pictures of the operations that used to be there. Would you happen to know what was all there for them to load phosphate into the railcars? Maybe I could fictionalize a train going into that spur to work the industry.

    CSX FAN
    Way back in the day (before MRL existed) there was a branchline up the side canyon north of Phosphate to a small mine, but that's long gone, ripped up. Phosphate was dormant for a while, then in the 80's Cominco starting shipping phosphate again in ribbed 2 bay hoppers. Trucks would come down from the mine to that loading dock at the Phosphate yard, and they would load hoppers from above with pulverized phosphate powder. Those phosphate loads would get picked up by an MRL train and go west all the way to Sandpoint, Idaho. There, the loads would get interchanged to UP, which would take them north to the border, then CP would take them north and then west on the Nelson branch to the Trail smelter. From what I've read, this ended around 1993. If you go to this link and click on the unit # links at the left, you can see the hoppers that were used in this service.
    http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/rsL...d=MRL&rid=9100

    If you go to HistoricAerials.com and navigate to where Phosphate is, then toggle the Aerial imagery back to 1984, you can see a blurry view of the loading operation. My guess is they just backed trucks up to the edge of the dock and dumped the powder into the hoppers, nothing sophisticated. I have seen NP-era photos of the loading done there, and that's how they did it.

    Ever since 1993, to my knowledge Phosphate yard has been mostly empty, but periodically used for car storage (whether it be empty centerbeams, oil tankcars, empty coal cars, etc.)
    Last edited by PerryPlatypus; 12-23-2021 at 08:08 PM.
    ~Sean Kelly~
    MRL Mullan Pass for Open Rails: https://www.trainsimulations.net/mullanpass
    SP Shasta Route for Open Rails: In Development / Tracks 100%, Scenery 75%

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