NEB&W Guide to Tahawus, NY

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NEB&W Layout Table of Contents

Overview

  • Tahawus ("cloud-splitter") was the Indian name for Mount Marcy, the tallest peak in New York State.



  • In the 19th century, the Adirondac(k) Company was formed to mine iron ore, but the unwanted titanium was a hindrance, as was lack of transportation, so the company failed. All that is left of this early attempt are the remains of a stone blast furnace, half hidden in the trees. Only the urgency of WWII allowed a massive titanium and iron plant to be built in the high peaks of the Adirondack Park, which was supposed to remain "forever wild."

  • The iron and titanium mine in Tahawus was built in WWII by National Lead Co. under a defense contract. Titanium was important for light weight aircraft alloys. Before the invention of radar, titanium was even more important as the principal ingredient in naval smoke screens. National Lead Company probably received the contract because as a pigment manufacturer, they had expertise with titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide is used in white paint, which is the whitest (and non-yellowing) substance known.

  • Also see "Ghost Towns" and Jon Patton's super indepth history of the Adirondack branch. If you want to visit and hike the Adirondacks, check out Joel Dobson's Adirondack Journey.



Stone Blast Furnace



Overview of the 20th Century Plant

  • Aerial and panoramic views of the Sanford Lakes region and this complex.



Open Pit

  • The enormous open pit mine c. early '70's. I used to think this pit dated back to steam days, but it doesn't show in the aerial views from then nor in the 1953 topographic map. (Since abandonment of the entire complex, we've been told this pit has now filled with water.)
We really should include some of the shelf-like cuts in the background of our scene.

The Sinter Plant

  • "Sinter" is a variation on "cinder". The sinter plant here, as I understand it, took the finely ground ore, mixed with crushed coal, set it on fire, and fused it into bigger chunks so it wouldn't blow away when shipped in open hoppers. The sinter plant stood to the south of the flotation mill complex.
    The sinter plant was of "curtain wall" and concrete beam construction, similar to the City Classics factory but with concrete block instead of brick in the panels. Originally we were planning on modeling it in front of the flotation plant, but 1) it was another big complicated modeling project and 2) it made the scene look more crowded than on the prototype.
    When Tony Steele first photographed the plant in the early '70's, it still had all the conveyors in place, even though I think at that point it was no longer being used.



The Flotation Plant

  • The flotation plant, as I understood, took the finely crushed ore and basically dumped it into soapy water (gross oversimplication). The lighter waste stuck to the bubbles, the higher ore sank to the bottom. I think they also concentrated the ore by use of a large magnet, which I think were only work on the pure iron oxide, appropriately named magnetic. The iron-titantium ore, ilmenite, I don't think was magnetic.
    And thinking this out logically, it would seem the magentic separation took place in the dry mill.

  • The dry mill section of the flotation plant was really as narrow as we've modeled it, even though it looks like we condensed it to fit it up against our backdrop. (It actually consisted of a wide lower section in front of a tall narrow section. We flattened the lower section back against the tall section.)



  • To the left of the dry mill were some concrete storage bins.



Auxiliary Buildings

  • Overview of the buildings outside the flotation plant.



  • Further into the plant was this garage, still to be modeled on our layout on the far side of the tracks. (Note the large window area on the side.)



  • A couple of the small buildings that cluster in front of the plant. Photos c. 1980. (As typical architecture of the '40's, note there is no roof overhang on the end gables.)



  • On the fringes of the complex.



Yardmaster's Office

  • In our version of things, Tahawus is located before North Creek and thus any passenger service would likely serve this area (unlike the prototype, some 30 miles past North Creek and the terminus of D&H passenger service). We could of course copy any depot but depots are generally of pre-WWI styles, and look out of place in our c. WWII-era industrial scene. (If we had sufficient room, we could separate the two visually enough.)
    However, I just came across this c. 1944 photo from Jon Patton of the yardmaster's office here and I think it would make an ideal station, pretty much just as is. And boy, does this building have that late-steam era look.
    This building is no. 26 on Patton's map, above, indicated to be located quite far south of the main complex, which I guess is why we never saw it on our many trips here.
Patton said this was later used as a storehouse for car repair.



On Our Layout