FONTANA, CAL. - KAISER STEEL

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FONTANA, CAL. - KAISER STEEL

Postby shlustig » Wed Apr 04, 2018 11:33 am

The Kaiser Steel complex was built to provide steel for Kaiser and other West Coast manufacturers during WW2.

Since this complex was a basic steel producer with 4 blast furnaces, there had to be a major logistics problem in getting the raw materials -- iron ore, coke, and limestone -- to Fontana.

Does anybody know the rail routes which were used to bring the raw materials to Fontana. I have never seen any period photographs of such shipments, but then railfan photogrphy was severely limited both for security purposes and because most people were engaged in wartime production.

Still, the idea of bringing iron ore from the Missabe Range to California as well as coke from the Eastern states and limestone from ???? makes me wonder if some of this activity was not documented at the time.
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Re: FONTANA, CAL. - KAISER STEEL

Postby Backshophoss » Wed Apr 04, 2018 6:57 pm

The plant was served by the SP and ATSF,at one time had a coal mine somewhere in the southern Ca desert,running a unit coal train to the plant
with their own power and cars.
SP(now UP) has an unnamed industrial spur at S Fontana running to NW corner of the plant property.
ATSF(now SCAX,BNSF freight rights)San Gabriel Sub is along the east property line of the plant.
Plant has extensive trackage inside the fence line worked by remote controlled switchers
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Re: FONTANA, CAL. - KAISER STEEL

Postby riffian » Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:15 am

Iron ore came from a mine in Riverside County served by their own railway to a connection with the Southern Pacific. Southern Pacific ore jennies were used in a unit train to the mill. Coal came on the Santa Fe from the York Canyon branch in New Mexico. This was also a unit train and Santa Fe's first attempt at remote control mid-train helpers. A special fuel pad was constructed at Needles to refuel these units (originally 800 series Alco "Alligators").
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Re: FONTANA, CAL. - KAISER STEEL

Postby riffian » Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:44 am

All you need to know about the Kaiser rail operation:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagle_Mountain_Railroad
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Re: FONTANA, CAL. - KAISER STEEL

Postby shlustig » Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:45 am

riffian:

Interesting information, but not applicable to the question asked as it is post-WW2.
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Re: FONTANA, CAL. - KAISER STEEL

Postby riffian » Sun Apr 08, 2018 5:39 pm

Not sure you're going to get an answer to your specific time frame without a great deal of research. Since all the ingredients for making steel are plentiful in western states, I doubt that raw materials were brought from as far as Missabe and the like. United States Steel was well established before WWII with mills in Geneva, Utah and Pittsburg, CA. Raw materials for the Geneva mill came entirely from the state of Utah. Both AT&SF and Espee had access to large New Mexico coal deposits, but where the limestone and iron ore came from, if not from Eagle Mountain is unknown to me. It is my understanding that the Fontana mill was built primarily to support the massive Kaiser shipbuilding effort on the Pacific Coast.
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Re: FONTANA, CAL. - KAISER STEEL

Postby shlustig » Mon Apr 09, 2018 11:31 am

riffian,

Thanks for the additional information. I was not aware of the mineral deposits in that area.

I'm hoping that the ATSF and SP Historical Societies might have further information. I don't know if either railroad had a fleet of ore jennies such as the PRR and B&LE had, or if standard hoppers were used for this traffic.

As you noted, it will probably take some deep research to find the answers.
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Re: FONTANA, CAL. - KAISER STEEL

Postby Backshophoss » Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:27 pm

The plant is still an active steel distribution center in the LA basin,UP had a few years back rebuilt a grade crossing near the plant,
on that unnamed industrial track.
There're still traces of the Eagle Mountain RR viewable when driving on I-10 at exit 189 Eagle Mountain(county road 2).
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Re: FONTANA, CAL. - KAISER STEEL

Postby riffian » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:35 pm

Your definitive answer from a third source:

"Kaiser started operations in December 1942. Coal was obtained from the Sunnyside #2 mine in Utah which was leased from Utah Fuel, a subsidiary of the D&RGW Railroad (Kaiser bought the mine in 1950 and used it until Kaiser closed in 1983). During the was about 40 carloads of coal per day came to the plant via D&RGW to UP to Santa Fe at Barstow. Kaiser may have blended the high volatile coal with other coals to produce a suitable coke for its blast furnaces. Blend coals from Kansas and Arkansas were used after the war and into the 50's, but I have not been able to determine if they were used during the war. Iron ore is much simpler, it came from the Vulcan Mine, a company owned open pit mine developed by Kaiser in the Mojave Desert near Kelso, Calif. located about 100 miles east of Barstow. About 30 to 40 car loads per day via the UP to Santa Fe at Barstow."
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