The most common coal "industry" on the real railroads was not the mine itself, but small loaders or tipples like these, where coal from nearby mines was delivered by truck to be transferred to the railroads' hoppers.
Photo 7 - The West Freedom Coal Company tipple near Blacksburg, Pennsylvania, on the Western Allegheny RR. A conveyor lifted coal from the storage bin made of stacked B&O hoppers (barely visible beneath the center bents) to this tipple to be dumped into hoppers. You could hack-up the HO or N scale Pola plastic mine kits to simulate this one, but it would also make an excellent wood scratchbuilding project. The photo numbers are shown on the WA track diagram on the following pages. [included below] All of these tipples could have loaded their coal into Pennsylvania RR, Baltimore & Ohio RR, Western Maryland RR or Bessemer & Lake Erie RR hoppers at some time in their existence. F.M. Collins, Jr., photo, circa 1967, from the T. W Rimer collection.
Photo 8 - The West Freedom Coal Company stacked six hopper car bodies (there is another row to the left beside these three) to create a coal storage bin for the Blacksburg tipple (known as a "loader" in this area). A conveyor lifted the coal from the concrete bin beneath the hoppers to that ancient wooden tipple. Another truss-style conveyor (barely visible in the other photo) lifted the coal from the truck dump into the shed above the hoppers. - F.M. Collins, Jr., photo, circa 1967, fmm the T. W Rimer collection
Photo 17 - The Harcliffe, Pennsylvania, tipple (loader) was fed by a conveyor with corrugated metal that entered the elevated structure at about a 45-degree angle, so it is visible only as a black shadow in this photo. Note the coal chute that is similar to those on locomotive coaling towers. - F.M. Collins, Jr., photo, circa 1967, from the T.W. Rimer collection.
Photo 19 - The tipple at Blue Row, Pennsylvania (near Dewey), consisted of just a corrugated steel canopy over the railroad carloading chute and a similar canopy over the storage bin where the trucks dumped the coal. The trucks carried their coal up the earth embankment to the left and dumped into the bon (center). The tunualr-covered conveyor then lifted the coal to the tipple or loader. - T.W. Rimer photo, circa 1988
Photo 20 - The backside of the Blue Row tipple reveals that the tubular conveyor was open on this side. The conveyor (center), truck dump bin (far right) and railroad tipple (left) are between the camera and the WARR tracks. - T.W. Rimer photo, circa 1988