The Ant Hill Mining Company

A real operating mine for the LA&SFV RR

by Bruce Petty

It's the early 1960s in the San Fernando Valley and the latest "IN THING", is dercrative volcanic rock around back yard swimming pools and rock gardens. This is what replaced the scrap yard, a more user friendly product brought in by railroad gondola car. This volcanic rock is distributed to HO building supply companies in the Valley for gardeners.

Gondola loads of volcanic rock travel over 650 miles to the Valley from Northern California.

This is real volcanic rock from the Ant Hill Mining Company. Named the Ant Hill Cinder Cone, this material really mined by large red ants. Every year I go to an outback area in Northern California where ants have built large mounds with finely graded volcanic cinders.

As you can see, a spur track into the cinder pit is in place and general service gondolas are being loaded. The ant miners have taken the winter off, because this area of Northern California can get down to MINUS 20 DEGREES! We loaded about 30 carloads and headed home to warmer climate.

Not very much Ant Rock can be taken at one time from a mound, this is so as not to put stress on the ant miners by removing too much material.

Our ant workers are happy to have most of the over-burden of the mound removed so they don't have so far to carry these little rocks up and out so far from their tunnels. You may ask what do the ants get in return? Ant miners are payed very well with a sugar placed next to their tunnel entrance when their working on site.

Here is a picture with Ant Rock in the garden area of an HO home. Rock sizes in HO would be between 6" and 12".

Most of this finely graded cinder rock goes to bonsi gardeners to spread around their trees.

Los Angeles & San Fernando Valley RR