C&I Twin Hopper

The power plant at International Paper in North Tonawanda burned coal, and the company stockpiled coal next to the employee parking lot, so I intend to model the inbound coal loads on my layout. I have no photos of coal hoppers moving into or out of the plant, so I’m forced to guess at what that would have looked like.

A while back, I picked up a pair of 2-bay hoppers from an Atlas clearance sale, factory painted for Cambria & Indiana Railroad. The C&I reminds me of Altoona PA and all of the interesting railroading in that area, and I took many trips there during the early 1980s. So this model connects me to that time, by virtue of the roadname alone. I doubt that the C&I had any 55 ton hoppers on their roster when I was frequenting the area, but apparently there were still some on the roster during the Penn Central era that I’m modelling. I figured I could use these models as inbound coal loads to my paper plant on Tonawanda Island.

The models were sold by Atlas without packaging, trucks, and couplers. They do this every now and then, and you can get some great bargains if you’re prepared to put some work in to the model. After I bought the cars, got them running, and weathered one of them, I did a bit of research into the coal mines of Cambria County Pennsylvania. A more disciplined prototype modeller would have done things in exactly the reverse of the order, but we all know how emotion can rule over reason.

It turns out that the C&I hauled bituminous coal, which is soft and most commonly used to make coke for the steel industry. As I understand it, power plants burn anthracite coal, which was mined in a different part of Pennsylvania. So it turns out that maybe I can’t use these hoppers for loads coming into my paper plant. I’ll figure something out. At this point, one C&I hopper is weathered, and one is on the way.


  1. Anthracite, Bituminous and Lignite have all been burned for power generation. Coal power plants in the northeast would have burned anthracite because it was local and relatively clean-burning.

    While anthracite typically has less sulfur than any other type of coal, sulfur in the steel-making process is a bad impurity. So maybe your 1980s power plant is trying out some low-sulfur bituminous coal to replace anthracite as the EPA cracks down and low-sulfur anthracite is getting harder to find?


  2. Hunter, in my research, typically industry (power plants, big factories) burned Bituminous, and Anthracite was for home heating, or specialized industrial needs. I model the 1950’s Lehigh Valley, and at that point, most of the loaded coal being moved to and across New York harbor was Bituminous and hauled in B&O, WM, C&O and other Bit coal road hoppers. In your era, Anthracite mining was all but finished, so very little to no coal seen in Northeastern railroad hoppers (EL, LV, RDG, etc) would have been hauling Anthracite in them.


  3. These small 55-ton hoppers lasted a long time in C&I coal service…maybe until the end of the C&I. I know I took a photo of a Conrail coal train that had new CR wide cab leading that had some loaded 55-ton C&I coals behind it. This had to be very close to the end of the C&I.


  4. Just stumbled across your blog. I agree with Ralph, bituminous was used by industries and (most) railroads in the steam era. Anthracite was used in home heating specifically because it burned cleaner. There were many brands of anthracite, think of it as the primary retail type of coal in the northeast. Bulk users such as industries used the far more plentiful and cheaper bituminous.


    Randy Hammill
    Modeling the New Haven Railroad 1946-1954 | http://blog.newbritainstation.com

    Liked by 1 person

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