Thursday, 25 February 2016

Marmoraton Mine

Throwback Thursday: CN Loading Spur at Marmoraton Mine.
Photo and Commentary by Peter Mumby.

I was fortunate during my university years to have excellent summer jobs in heavy industry in Central Ontario.  The summer of 1968 I worked at Lake Ontario Cement in Picton; the next four summers I was employed by Marmoraton Mining, an open pit iron ore mine at Marmora, Ontario.  Most of my time at Marmora was spent as a shovel tender arranging for the dump trucks to safely and properly park under the 6- or 11-cubic yard shovels.  I occasionally spelled off the truck drivers, running the 55-ton Sicard Dart trucks from the bottom of the mine to either the dump or the primary crusher.

The magnetite ore body at Marmora was discovered in 1948 and owner Bethlehem Steel started stripping overburden in 1953.  The first shipment of iron ore pellets took place in 1955.  Daily except Sunday 25- to 30-car trains moved over the CN Marmora subdivision to Picton's 1200 foot ore dock.  Here the pellets were loaded onto 25,000 ton ore boats and moved to Lackawanna, New York.  The entire operation shut down in March of 1978; the trackage, especially the section from Trenton Junction to Picton, lasted a few years longer.  The mine is now a man-made lake and the roadbed is now a hiking trail.

The photo shows CN 343020 and others waiting their turn to roll under the pellet loader at the mine.  At the time of my employment there I had not yet developed an interest in railfan photography.  We always seem to get started a few years too late!  This photo was actually taken in the summer of 1974, two years after my final year at the mine.  I hiked in along the rail line and took the shot as part of an afternoon's outing.  I regret that I never did any photography of the ore trains as they wended their way south across the Trent River and on to Picton.

Readers who are interested in more information on the railways of Central Ontario are encouraged to look up Keith Hansen's excellent book, Last Trains from Lindsay.

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