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.