NP - Tacoma Division

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The Splitrock Mining Company layout represents the railroad portion of an iron mining operation that started in 1955. With soft iron ore running out in the huge Missabe Range, the state of Minnesota gave huge tax breaks and economic incentives to keep the mines and railroads and shipping in business. Many jobs were saved by this and the beginning of the taconite boom started with the creation of MinnTac, National Taconite and HibTac on current mines. New operations started such as Reserve Mining and Erie Mining. Splitrock Mining Company is similar to the later, but deals with iron ore in raw form instead of taconite. The mines are on the Vermillion Iron Range and are underground vs. open pit strip mines of the Missabe range. The shipping of raw ore brings operation to our layout as it needs to be classified by grade.

The railroad runs 'turns' out to the various mines with empties, and returns with loaded cars to be built into mainline trains at the Vermillion Yard. The mainline trains bring the ore to the north shore of Lake Superior at a town called Agate Bay. The ore is then sorted for each ore boat and shoved out to the ore dock for unloading. The empties are then collected from the dock and begin their trip north to the mines once again.

Layout is around the walls, no duck under and two levels. The levels are connected by an open helix that has scenes representing Minnesota arrowhead region. Hand built turnouts controlled by bullfrogs and powered by frog juicers. All tracks have non-delayed magnets installed for hands off operation. Full servicing of power and caboose at Agate Bay, plus car RIP tracks. All power is four-axel Alco road switchers. Tsunami sound decoders bring Schenectady power to life, as well as rotary beacons.

Operators can change jobs at any time. Actual loading and unloading of the ore cars means no staging and perpetual operation. Limited paperwork used only to describe dock shoves and mine runs.

Superintendent Thomas Gasior
Division or Location: Northern Minnesota
Interchange Railroads: DMIR
Size of Railroad: Around the walls of a 19 x 11.5 room, two levels
Scale: HO
Era: July, 1970
Control System: Digitrax, radio throttles
Scale Clock Speed: N/A
Length of Session: 2.5-3 hours
Number of Crew: 3-4
Train Control: Yard Limit Rules
Are Radios Required: No
Listed Jobs: Agate Bay Yard, Vermilion Yard, Mine run, and mainline crew
Accessibility: Stairs
Distance from hotel: N/A
Estimated travel time from hotel: N/A
Web Site: Click on the following link and leave the MINN-RAIL site
Pets: One dog (small)

Layout Photos (click to enlarge):

Working the Christina Mine in Ely, MN
Crossing a road in the Vermillion Range on the way to the mines.
Passing the Elizabeth Mine
Passing thru rock cuts on way to Christina Mine
Loads waiting for pick up at the Christina Mine, Ely,MN
Pulling loads from Loadout #1
Two levels. Christina Mine on top, Ore dock in Lake Superior on lower level.
Empty mainline train arrives at Vermillion yard.
Switching the ore loads in Agate Bay yard, making up dock shoves.
Caboose track, engine service tracks and yard lead in Agate Bay yard.
Ore loads spotted on ore dock.
Two mine runs of empty cars wait while the Vermillion Yard job sorts loads for next mainline run.

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