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The end of the line was rapidly approaching when this image was taken. The Wawa Sinter Plant, (which supplied the Steel Co in the SOO) along with the railroad from Hawk Jct to the harbour became redundant in early 1998, due to lack of profitability, throwing a lot of people out of work and creating chaos for the town of Wawa's 4,100 souls. In this afternoon view at the shores of Lake Superior, we see ore (siderite?)being delivered for transport out on lake boats for various destinations. Nice power lashup of WC 6001 (ACR), 6590, 2252 and 2052; SD40, SD45, GP 30 and GP 35m respectively.
All are now retired. Note remains of old pier, a symbol from much busier times long past.
Copyright Notice: This image ©A.W.Mooney all rights reserved.



Caption: The end of the line was rapidly approaching when this image was taken. The Wawa Sinter Plant, (which supplied the Steel Co in the SOO) along with the railroad from Hawk Jct to the harbour became redundant in early 1998, due to lack of profitability, throwing a lot of people out of work and creating chaos for the town of Wawa's 4,100 souls. In this afternoon view at the shores of Lake Superior, we see ore (siderite?)being delivered for transport out on lake boats for various destinations. Nice power lashup of WC 6001 (ACR), 6590, 2252 and 2052; SD40, SD45, GP 30 and GP 35m respectively. All are now retired. Note remains of old pier, a symbol from much busier times long past.

Photographer:
A.W.Mooney [1322] (more) (contact)
Date: 04/22/1998 (search)
Railway: Wisconsin Central (search)
Reporting Marks: WC 6001 (search)
Train Symbol: Not Provided
Subdivision/SNS: WC Michipicoten Sub. (search)
City/Town: Michipicoten Harbour (search)
Province: Ontario (search)
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7 Comments
  1. Arnold, from what I understand they brought in limestone (the grey pile) and coke (the black pile) and apparently even some other iron ores (the rusty pile) for blending with the local iron ore to upgrade it. The local ore wasn’t high grade, hence the processing required and the later switch to ores from the US.

    The processed sinter was a dark charcoal-black colour.

    The stockpiles make sense when you consider that the piles are formed by the self-unloading vessels dumping the products on the dock with their unloading conveyor booms. The materiel would be loaded into railcars and hauled to the plant from the dock to the sinter plant as required. (And probably a certain amount of stockpile maintained there too.)

    The railcars were definitely loaded by large front-end loaders, one of the videos I have briefly shows these guys in action loading stuff from the piles into the hopper cars.

    I have 1998 as the shutdown date for the sinter plant at Wawa, not 1997. The branch was officially abandoned by 2000 (it’s a 3-year process with the CTA) and quickly ripped up thereafter. So this photo is definitely capturing the dying days of this service!

  2. Chris: Can you identify the stockpiled material? (I thought the reddish was sintered material) And why stockpile it? Why not just move it by cars to the Plant? Seeing they knew it was near the end of the line for this business here……..it looks like a lot of material to move; and would they use one of those heavy-duty front end loaders like I did see rumbling around at the Sinter Plant? Did your Video(s) have a final date of operations? I read on a site the Plant shut down in 1997 but it ain’t so…….

  3. As late as the 1960s there was an elevated unloading trestle and loading equipment to transfer processed ore TO ships; this was abandoned probably sometime in the 1970s and torn down by the end of the 1980s (the concrete foundations still remain).

    If something was still being exported from the harbour in the later years, that would be interesting to know, but there wasn’t really anything at the harbour to facilitate this at that point.

    The older rotting dock in the foreground was also once rail served, and shipped out large amounts of pulpwood. This was abandoned in the early 1960s.

  4. The important point is that Arnold captured the scene while there were still some railway operations. I too thought this was an export point but see how Chris is likely correct. Well done photo, Mr.M and an interesting discussion.

  5. Well, well, Chris…….you are exactly RIGHT. I have no information on the operations at the Harbour and took a stab at it, and I have it all backwards.
    The only two images I could find was the one uploaded and another one with the power itself, and I assumed the power was coming off the train but it was actually going ON to take the loads to the Sinter Plant.
    And here I am scratching my head wondering why all the different materials stacked up. I’m thinking self-LOADING vessels and product coming from the local mines. I guess if I had been able to find other photos from the trip, it would have come together. THANKS for sorting me out on this one!!!!

  6. Nice shot of the harbour Arnold.

    Are you sure the loaded cars in this photo aren’t being lifted from the dock? There wasn’t really much in the way of infrastructure at the harbour to actually unload hoppers and load the product into ships; it’s my understanding that in the later years of operations at the harbour, coke, limestone and some iron ore was delivered by self-unloading vessels, and loaded into railcars from the stockpile(s) by front-end loader. The product was sent up the hill to the plant at Wawa to be blended with locally mined ores. The processed iron ore from the Wawa plant was all shipped by rail to the Algoma Steel mill in Sault Ste. Marie. I have a few VHS and DVD videos on the ACR that feature operations on the branch, and they all show empties being delivered to the harbour, and strings of loads being dragged up the extreme grade out of the harbour.

  7. Great shot, I made one trip to Hawk Jct. but was too late to see this branch in action, shame it was abandoned. Awesome lash up surely missed these days.

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