Malagash Salt Miners' Museum
Malagash, Nova Scotia

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The First Rock Salt Mine in Canada




The railroad followed the contour of the fields and many seemingly unnecessary short radius curves plagued traffic on the salt line throughout its life. Derailments were frequent.

All track ties were two-sided, some hewn, some sawn New Brunswick cedar (an excellent wood immune to rot). Many still existed in 1948-50. A boxcar that ran on the main line for years would tip the high rail over easily on these short radius curves.

At the interchange with C. N. R., there was a double ended siding that held eleven cars. This low capacity caused the loaded cars to be pushed out and the empties were then hauled in; else other wise the locomotive could not get rid of the loads and get the the front of the empties.

Steam locomotives were obtained from C. N. R. were usually traded for salt. Boiler pressures were reduced from about 225 P.S.I. to 150 P.S.I. and boiler inspection was annual. The best of the steam locomotives for the job was a Mogul 2-6-0. Its low wheels enabled it to move slowly while express engines 4-4-0, with their driving wheels were indeed precarious: one puff would move them several feet.

After the de-icing salt became more important in Ontario in 1948, the rail traffic increased. Some years as high as 500 ties would be purchased. Several cars of ballast and four cars of replacement rails were purchased as well as three new box cars with which to transport salt to the 10,000 ton wharf building 2 1/2 miles distant.

The train crew and the section crew became expert in re-railing loaded boxcars. Empty cars were simple. A steam locomotive de-railed was a real problem. The 45 ton Diesel-Electric Locomotive, purchased in 1949, was nimble compared with the 115 ton steam unit. The seven tons of coal per day at $10.00 per ton was replaced with $4.85 worth of diesel, and two men manned the locomotive while the steam had three men running and one on nights in the winter time to keep it from freezing.

Locomotive drivers included Jack Haynes and William Purdy. Maintenance of Way Foremen were Amos Latta; followed by his son Sandy Latta.

The first few trains to move salt were loaded at the Fred Myers crossing. Horses moved the bagged salt to this location while the remainder of the railroad was completed into the Mine.

There was a locomotive with a saddle tank. It did move cars at Malagash, but was used to provide steam for a hoist, lifting salt out of the mine until about 1935.

(Taken from the book 'Malagash Salt', first published in 1975)


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