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Western Railroad Discussion > Train ops around Butte, MT, ops on BAP Ry

Date: 01/24/23 16:37
Train ops around Butte, MT, ops on BAP Ry
Author: zephyrus

Question for everyone:

Any regular times / days for train operations in and around Butte, Montana?  When do UP, Butte Anaconda and Pacific, etc. operate?  Also, what do overall operations on the entire BAP line look like?  Where are their customers and what is train frequency?



Date: 01/25/23 02:42
Re: Train ops around Butte, MT, ops on BAP Ry
Author: SLORailfanning

You can typically find the BNSF local to Garrison going on duty early in the morning in Butte and showing up to Garrison typically mid-morning (10-12 is usually a decent bet). 

There's a small lesser known operation west of Butte at the " Port of Montana " that uses a GP to switch cars. You can usually see them pulling down to Silver Bow Rd at the south side of the facility. 

Date: 01/25/23 13:23
Re: Train ops around Butte, MT, ops on BAP Ry
Author: swaool

On my occasional trips through Butte, I've seen the BAP job coming into town in the 8-10 AM time frame, doing their switching, and heading back west around noonish, give or take.  Haven't seen them in several years, however, so my two cents worth probably isn't worth even that.  In the first photo, BAP 1402 is coming through Silver Bow on September 30, 2015.  In the second photo RAR 2010 is switching in Butte on May 26, 2016.  These were a Wednesday and Thursday respectively, so no idea if they run on weekends.  Also no idea what power they have now, as I know the BAP 1402 was sent to Ogden UT at some point.

mike woodruff

Date: 01/25/23 14:46
Re: Train ops around Butte, MT, ops on BAP Ry
Author: callum_out

Mike, those are really nice shots, running days are a crapshoot, I've yet to see them in the last
2 trips.


Date: 01/25/23 15:51
Re: Train ops around Butte, MT, ops on BAP Ry
Author: zephyrus

Thanks for the info, everyone.  So, what customers does BAP have?  When I look at Google Earth, I see the US Minerals facility east of Anaconda yard, some kind of loading facility on the branch east of Anaconda, and then the mine facility in Butte.  Is that all?


Date: 01/25/23 17:32
Re: Train ops around Butte, MT, ops on BAP Ry
Author: callum_out

I assume the facility East of Anaconda you describe is on the old interurban line and what it was used
for (might still be) was to hauled the contaminated soil from the yard area out to the disposal area where
it was dumped and spread out to dry.


Date: 01/26/23 00:27
Re: Train ops around Butte, MT, ops on BAP Ry
Author: steeplecab

A little follow-on to zephyrus's and callum's replies. The black material at what is labeled US Minerals is the old slag pile. The loading facility on the south edge of the slag piles is used for classifying and loading slag. That operation was originally Best Grit, Inc, and was originally located north of the slag pile, across the highway (currently MT 1 ) in the old arbiter plant. All those buildings around Continental Truck Body was the Anaconda Company's arbiter plant. They hauled slag across the highway, classified it, bagged it if necessary or loaded it into covered hoppers, and sold it as sandblasting grit. At one time there was a siding that went west from the Arbiter plant along Arbiter Plant Lane and tied into the yard along East Front Street.  Yes, the slag contains arsenic and other toxic metals, but because it is bound up in a silica matrix, it's is inert and is safe to use. The Navy used a lot of it in Bremerton at various times. Whoever bought the grit operation moved the tanks and classifiers to the new location on the south side of the slag piles, probably to avoid having to cross the highway. By the way, the slag piles, at least on the north and west sides, are currently being covered by topsoil and seeded. I guess the locals think they'll scare visitors away.

That track south of the slag pile is the BA&P main line. Yes, this is the track the loader reaches out over. To the west is the East Anaconda yard, which slopes downgrade to the west. This has always been the BA&P main line. South of the BA&P main line was the last Washoe smelter operation.

To the north of the slag piles, between the slag and the highway, was at one time the main line for the Montana Union's branch from Stuart, on the old NP main, to Anaconda. The MU provided such atrocious service to the early Anaconda Copper Mining Company smelter that Marcus Daly contracted with the GN construction crews, who had just brought the GN into Butte, to build a line on from Butte to his Anaconda smelter. After the BA&P put the MU line out of business, they bought the carcass and used the line from Anaconda to Opportunity to provide interurban service to the Company workers and their families who lived out there. This line is obscured almost it's full length now, but there is one short stretch of remaining of unmolested MU grade at 46.10020425239811, -112.83330824922453 for those who might be interested.

As an obscure point on interest, the Forge Motel west of the slag piles is the old site of the beryllium plant used up through WW2. Somebody covered it all over with topsoil and deemed it safe for reuse. By the way, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies beryllium as a Group 1 carcinogen (carcinogenic to humans), and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) lists beryllium as a known human carcinogen. As a kid we were always told that everybody stayed away from there because of the contamination.

The line callum mentions down into the tailings branches off from the main line at 46.102985, -112.880418, just west of Mill Creek. There was little significant contamination in the BA&P yards. These large tailings ponds were from the ore crushing and concentration process, that were piped out with water from the concentrator. The two original tailings piles (Tailings 1 and Tailings 2) are the large mounds east of the slag piles. When the underground operations were still going in Butte and before the Weed Concentrator went into operation, the tailings were hauled back to Butte to backfill the stopes to prevent caving. Later the site was used to bury contaminated material from the Clark Fork River cleanup and the cleanup of material that was exposed by the removal of Milltown Dam. The latter was unloaded from MRL trains at a siding on the I-90 side and hauled in by truck from that side.

This is probably too much information, but if somebody doesn't write it down it will eventually be lost and the world will have to learn those lessons all over again. Heaven knows the world is getting dumber fast enough as it is.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/26/23 00:59 by steeplecab.

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