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I'm E.Z.: 1941

I'm E.Z.: 1941

August 1941. "Ore puncher waiting for change of shift. Allouez, Wisconsin." Medium format acetate negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Nimble Ore Punching

Minnesota natural iron ore as being handled in 1941 was heavy. Unbelievably dense and heavy! Those short little ore cars, each only 24 feet long to match the spacing of the pockets and loading spouts in the docks, and the hatches of the boats holds that Shorpy has recently featured in other recent pix, held up to 100 tons of iron ore!

The ore cars were shoved by steam locomotives onto the docks and spotted carefully over the bins to be dumped into the boats (even though they're 1/5 of a mile long, on the Great Lakes they're "boats").

This dense ore tended to "clump up" in the ore cars. When the doors under each car were opened, often the ore didn't dump! Hence, the "punchers". Particularly in freezing weather near the end of the shipping season. These guys climbed on top of such cars with a pike pole to jab it down into the ore to break it loose, then quickly get off the top of the car before he becomes part of a shipment to Cleveland.

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