Saturday, January 18, 2014

Erie and Pittsburgh Coal and Ore Docks

Old postcard of Erie & Pittsburgh Coal Docks in Erie, PA.
This scene from the lower westside in Erie, Pennsylvania has vanished from the landscape. The Erie & Pittsburg, or Pittsburgh and Erie docks, were situated between Raspberry and Liberty Streets along the bay. The railroad tracks leading to the Erie and Pittsburg Coal Dock are visible at the bottom of this postcard. Ore Dock No. 1 is in the center, next to the white building with the tall smokestack.

Two docks were completed at the time of the opening of the Erie & Pittsburg Railway in 1865, when bituminous coal was the principal business. Coal docks were completed to the west in 1867. A coal trestle that loaded coal from rail cars into the holds of transport vessels was removed in 1880 and dock no. 1 was expanded to 1,000 feet long by 200 feet wide. Ore Dock No. 2 was also enlarged so the largest ships on the Great Lakes could deliver a full load of iron ore across Lake Erie to Erie, PA. 

The E&P docks were connected with the W. L. Scott canal dock (Reed's Dock for the Erie Extension Canal) in 1868 by a railroad track built alongside the foot of the bluff. This is approximately where the Bayfront Parkway, or PA 290, runs along the lower westside of Erie. The docks were near the present-day Niagara Pier, Lawrence Pier and Liberty Park.

Ore was delivered to Erie through the Welland Canal from Lake Champlain until its supplies were exhausted. Ore was then delivered from mines along Lake Superior. About 40 varieties of hematite and specular ore were kept in separate piles along the docks and then loaded into rail cars for delivery to blast furnaces in the Shenango Valley and Pittsburgh, PA. 

During the 1886 season 91,257 tons of iron ore and 1,727 tons of pig metal was received at the E & P docks in Erie. During the 1887 season 210,249 tons of iron ore and 7,048 pig metal were received. Figures for the 1888 shipping season included 240,402 gross tons of iron ore and 11,140 gross tons of pig metal. -Erie Pennsylvania Illustrated.

The Philadelphia & Erie Railroad coal docks were leased by William L. Scott, a two-term Erie mayor and congressman. W. L. Scott was the president of the Erie and Pittsburgh Railroad Co. and the director of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern; the Chicago & North Western; the New York, Philadelphia & Norfolk; the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis; the New Castle & Beaver Valley; and the Michigan Central Railroad. He also held stock in the New York Central and the Pennsylvania Central railroads.

See more facts and old pictures of Erie, PA at Old Time Erie

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