In the previous series I made an observation about the fluidity of railroads and their ability to adapt to changing needs. At the C&H Hecla surface plant this dynamic was fully tested as the great mine abandoned its conglomerate mining and concentrated efforts elsewhere. What was once a surface plant dedicated to the support of the Hecla Mine specifically had to adapt to a more secondary role. This change over happened sometime after consolidation, when C&H bought out almost all of its regional competitors.
Here’s a look at the Hecla Surface Plant before consolidation, based on 1917 Sanborn maps. At this time the Hecla shafts were still in operation, anchored here by the No.2 and No.3 (just south of the map). This layout represented C&H at its peak of production, and all the shops and support structures were being fully utilized. What’s interesting to me is how “busy” this layout looks, with a great deal of rail lines crossing and merging all over the place. At this time the roundhouse was being used without the additional stalls, with the turntable the primary means of entering the building. The trestle near the foundry was also intact at this time.
Then came consolidation, followed by the cessation of mining in the conglomerate lode. Things quickly changed and the layout became a lot less “busy”.
Here is the same surface plant some 30 years later, at about 1947. The most evident change is the absence of the Hecla Shafts, which by this time were capped and torn down. This opened up a great deal of room near the old No.2 shaft, which C&H apparently took advantage of with a re-alignment of its roundhouse approaches. Now instead of aline heading directly for the turntable, three new lines were added that brought loco’s directly into the building via three new bays built along the roundhouse’s west wall.
A few other changes from the pre-consolidation times includes most notably the removal of the trestle near the foundry and the razing of the blacksmith shop. (The old blacksmith shop can be seen in the first photo of this post) The machine shop and foundry were still being used, but most of the rest of these buildings were used only sparingly at this time. Interestingly C&H built a new sand house along the main line, apparently abandoning its old sand house near the foundry. (this perhaps had something to do with that foundry trestle being removed as well).
Not much else to say here really. Just thought I’d through these out there for some compare and contrast…