"Greatest Winter Job in History"

From the Montreal Daily Star, 1929:

Greatest Winter Job in History of North Half Done

WINNIPEG, Man., March 2.—(Star Special).—Already more than half of the gigantic task of transporting materials into the Island Falls site for the hydro-electric development projected there has been completed for Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co., Limited—a job that many believed impossible of accomplishment before spring. So far as is known, this is the largest winter hauling job ever undertaken in Canada, with upwards of 25,000 tons of freight being moved over the 69-mile trail from the end of steel to Island Falls. A notable circumstance is the fact that lack of snow early in the winter had to be overcome by complete icing of the roads which did not cross lakes, and twenty tank teams were busy at this work. Now the company has a "skating rink" 69 miles long—a little rough for skating in spots, perhaps, but a wonderful winter tote road.

Up to the middle of February approximately 17,000 tons of freight had gone in, and the organization is now exerting every effort to increase dally average of transport trains. A fleet of tractors is employed, consisting of ten big Lynns, six Fordsons, and three Holts. Increasing efficiency is seen in the fact that during the last ten days of January a daily average of 366 tons was transported, as against 192 tons daily during the first ten days of that month. At the present time the average has been stepped up until nearly 700 tons daily is moving over the trail, and the contract is well ahead of schedule, whereas early this year it was far behind, what had been estimated.

The site of the power plant lies across the Manitoba-Saskatchewan boundary, some 60 miles in a direct line northeast of Flin Flon itself. When fully developed the site will be capable of producing 76,000 horsepower although it is estimated that 42,000 horsepower will be ample for present requirements, and three 14,000 horsepower turbines are all that are to be installed now. At the moment crews are engaged in the building of an auxiliary power plant of 2,000 horsepower to supply motive energy for the work of erecting the main power station. Work on this is well advanced, and it is anticipated the unit will have been completed by the end of March, so that the bigger job can start about that time.

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A force of 250 men is now employed at the power site, and it is hoped that between the end of l930 and the spring of 1931 the major power plant can be completed. Preparations for this undertaking are also well in hand, with men already at work cutting timber for forms and trestles, and uncovering part of the rock that has to be blasted out.

Winter hauling from the town of Flin Flon, the end of steel, into the power site through the wilderness is essentially a problem of organization, in view of the urgent need of the work, costs, and the short length of time available to complete the job. Engineers who have studied the work, and who have had an opportunity to go into the records, say it is one of the most efficient and completely organized winter hauling jobs in the history of Canada's great north country. Tractor trains work on railroad schedule.

No factor that might hinder the task has been overlooked, even to the smallest details. Close check of the freight movement is kept by the company's staff, and by the aid of an excellently conceived system of' ‘graphs, headquarters is able to instantly find out how the situation stands. Through weekly reports from the moving columns, officials learn with a minimum of wasted time how much freight has gone, and how much is on the way. The entire traffic route is mapped out into sections, from the point of origin to the power site itself, and at a glance the 'graphs disclose whether materials in any or all sections is keeping up to, exceeding, or falling behind the schedule. In the same way, 'graphs record progress at the plants where the big turbines, etc., are being built, a telltale red line moving across the sheet as building proceeds and brings closer the shipping date.

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MAINTENANCE work in the actual hauling is carried on with a high degree of efficiency. Tractors are kept in first class condition; sleds and other moving equipment are seldom laid up for repairs, with the result that tonnage is kept moving constantly in increasing volume. The working force on the freighting contract numbers around 200 men, the majority of whom are employed at the Flin Flon power siding, the starting point of the hauls.

At Flin Flon itself a similar scene of busy engineering enterprise is presented, where the initial preparations for Manitoba's great new industry are already giving employment to 350 men. The foundations have been poured for the permanent warehouses, machine shop, boiler house, and blacksmith shop, and a start has been made on the foundations for the stand-by powerhouse. Other crews are busy on the erection of bunkhouses for the men, cottages for the staff, the hospital, and various other housing needs of a large mining community.

Not much work is necessary at the mine itself, as already between 5,000 and 6,000 feet of lateral work has been done on the three horizons, chiefly on the 390-foot level, with some also on the 200 and 300-foot levels. The shape of the ore body was well defined by previous exploration, in which the diamond drill played a big part, and the tonnage figures have been established. Mining operations will commence on a broad scale when the concentrator and smelter plants are near completion.