Shipping Coal -- Coal Breaker in Background, Ashley, Pa.
CARLOADS OF COAL WITH BEAKER IN THE BACKGROUND, ASHLEY, PA: The big building in the background looks somewhat like a great grain elevator on the plains. It is a coal breaker. It gets its name from the fact that in this building coal is broken into usable sizes. It is necessary to break the coal because it comes from the mine in uneven lumps, some of which are very large.
A breaker is built near the mine shaft so that the small coal cars can be lifted directly from the bottom of the mine to the top of the breaker. Here the large pieces are broken, and as the coal travels downward it is sorted and sifted into its many grades. This is done in the modern breakers by machinery. If you were to ask your coal dealer about the different kinds of coal he would name them according to the size of the lumps. Rice coal is the siftings, the very small pieces. Buckwheat coal is the next size. Then come in order, pea coal, chestnut coal, stove coal, egg coal, and grate coal. There is still a larger variety known as steamboat coal, but this is too large to be burned in an ordinary furnace.
The sorting of these different kinds of coal is done by a system of screens which lie in tiers. Each succeeding screen projects farther out than the one next above it. The finest coal falls into the first row of bunkers, the next in order falls into the next row of bunkers, and so on.
As you see, switches from the railroad are connected with the breaker. The coal falls into car from chutes leading from the breaker. One of these chutes you can see at the left of the breaker building. You will observe that each car is loaded with the same size lumps. These cars carry the fuel that heats our houses, lights our cities, drives our street cars, and runs the machinery of industry.
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