Saturday, February 26, 2005

Workers on the CPRR

Somewhere tucked away in the Huntington letters there is a note from Edwin Crocker, to Huntington, saying they (the CPRR in Sacramento) had put out the word that the CPRR had 10,000 Chinese workers, this to make the UPRR uncomfortable.  gjg

English Iron on the Sacramento Valley in 1868

The following excerpt from the Huntington correspondence microfilm records provides further information on the use of English iron by the Central Pacific and its affiliate roads. At the time the letter was written, the associates had not yet decided to obtain control of the Southern Pacific. ... Items in brackets are my own ... interpolations. The reference to Valley Railroad should refer to the Sacramento Valley Railroad as contrasted with the San Joaquin Valley railroad just incorporated about this same time.

Larry Mullaly

Sacramento, January 8, 1868. E.B. Crocker to C.P. Huntington

"Friend Huntington,

...Tevis and Carpentier have taken hold of the Southern Pacific R. R. and intend to build it. They want us to take hold with them. We decline because we have enough on hand. The San Jose Co. have signed with Santa Clara Co. to build a R. R. from San Jose to Gilroy 30 miles right off. This is treading on the S.P. R.R. ground. Both parties have been to us to get iron to lay the rails. The Southern Pacific must use American Iron and we own all there is on the coast. The San Jose Co. can use English [iron] and all there is of that here belongs or was shipped to the [Sacramento] Valley Co. I cannot say whether that can be got or not. Both are earnest [to] commence laying track right off. We could sell the W. Pacific light chair joint iron to good advantage now and if we felt sure that we could replace it with fish joint iron before running short we would let them have it and buy fish joint in its place. It seems to me we can replace it in time. If the others think so, we may sell. I advised that a compromise would be made with the San Jose Co. in some way. It seems the owners of that road are anxious to sell out and prefer to do it rather than build more road but they say their salvation depends upon extending beyond San Jose to reach the grain of the upper part of the valley."

Re: How many people did it take to construct the transcontinental railroad?

... We know the newspapers of the time tell the story of Chinese laborers, some walking through town to the railhead, and others walking away from the construction scene, none counted except for payday. I would not quarrel with up to 8,000 workers, Chinese and Anglo at any one time, nor would I quarrel with a total employment, over the TOTAL course of construction reaching 25,000 people. I know that my father worked on the UPRR in the Summer of 1921, his comments re: employment were that turnover was high, due to working conditions, food and water challenges, and homesickness. gjg

Fwd: How many people did it take to construct the transcontinental railroad?


How many people did it take to construct the transcontinental railroad?

Yiping Zhuang

Friday, February 25, 2005

Re: English rail at Last Chance and SP&N

... The only railroads in California which I believe used English rail were: Sacramento Valley, California Central, and Freeport. However, the limitations to my knowledge in no way limited the actual use of foreign rail to those railroads.

A word (or two) on the Sacramento Placer & Nevada (in response to your call the other night). When that railroad was built with the overt aid of the principals of the SVRR, it was fully expected that it would serve as the second link in a line of railroads which would evenutally reach clear across the Sierra Nevada. This is delineated in a Simon Elliott map of 1860 (which was published in a Library of Congress book of early railroad maps. Elliott having been the one to have surveyed both the SP&N line to Nevada City and the line eastward thence to Henness Pass–and, ironically, the first one to have surveyed the Donner route).

While the SP&N was initially surveyed to merely connect Auburn with the then railhead at Folsom, it was built during the height of the Comstock excitement–by which time the route had been surveyed with some care to Nevada City and (with no doubt less care) beyond Henness Pass. The SP&N was an aspect of the private-money free-enterprise effort to connect the Sacramento with the Missouri which had been incrementally progressing since earth was turned on the Pacific Railroad in 1850. The SP&N (in particular, and the whole free-enterprise Pacific railroad in general) was outflanked–literally and figuratively–by the government-supported CP.

While Judah had essentially nothing to do with the SP&N (it killed his own Centralia/California Eastern scheme), I believe he initially envisioned that the CP would commence from the head of the SP&N. It did not; essentially for one simple reason: the Pacific RR act required (initially) that the CP build 40 miles on their own dime. Once the CP folks thought about it, it was obvious that 40 miles commencing at Auburn Station would cost one hellofa lot more than 40 miles commencing at Sacramento due to the relative higher cost of building railroads in the mountains vs. the flat valley. Thus the SP&N and SVRR were marginalized.


Thursday, February 24, 2005

English rail at Last Chance

The Pacific Slab Mine, a  hydraulic mine at Last Chance, Placer County, Cal. had a 'riffle' bed about 100 feet long, 4 to 5 feet deep, and three to four feet across.  Through that riffle bed the earth displaced by the hydraulic monitor was washed, and gold settled on the bottom.  Rail was used to settle the washed earth, that is to say the rail was placed in the bottom of the cut, each rail about 6 inches apart from the next rail, set at right angles to the flow of discharged water, thus catching the heavier gold as the water passed over the riffle.
Most of the rail used was steel, however several pieces were iron 'pear' rail, a few branded RIC 64 (the source of that rail, 54 lbs to the yard, is still a mystery to me) the rest are English or Welsh rails, unbranded, and weighing ABOUT 58 lbs per yard. 
The exact rail weight would be difficult to measure, as the action of the water and earth over the rail, over a period of 75 years (the mine was closed in the mid 1960's) has eroded the rail somewhat.
That being said, does anyone know of a railroad within a reasonable distance of Last Chance (it is 40 miles or so East, Northeast of Auburn) that used English/Welsh rail weighing 58 lbs per yard?
The foot of the rail is heavier than the 60 lb rail used on the Sacramento Valley Rail Road, however the web is shorter and the ball smaller than the SVRR rail.
The rail is unbranded, but has definite English/Welch charactistics as to profile.
Insofar as the Towle Bros. lumber railroad used whatever rail it could find in the 1870's through the 1890's, much of that rail was English/Welsh of a similiar profile, but also unbranded, it would not surprise me to find that the Pacific Slab Mine got it's rail from abandoned Towle Bros. rail beds.
Thank You.
Chris Graves, NewCastle, Cal.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Folsom, El Dorado & Sacramento Historical Railroad Association

My name is Bill Anderson. I am President of the Folsom, El Dorado & Sacramento Historical Railroad Assn.
We operate the Folsom Railroad Museum in Folsom, CA and are doing business as the Sacramento Valley Rail Road. We would like to be a part of your discussion group.
Bill Anderson

Re: T. D. Judah

Now that is very interesting. I note with interest that Judah is an agent for Danforth, Cooke & Co. - which probably explains CP loco #4 "Judah", as well as the other early Danforths. He's also an agent for Wason (although he's long dead by the time they likely order the coaches).


Note my NEW address of

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

Re: T. D. Judah

Happy 149th birthday of the SVRR.


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

T. D. Judah

It appears that our Mr. Judah was an awful busy fellow; he arrived in San Francisco on July 12, 1860, aboard the Golden Age, (this after having lobbied the 36th Congress, 1st Session in favor of the Pacific Railroad Act) and managed to get to Auburn, Placer County, to place the attached ad for rail, chairs, spikes, locomotive engines, etc. The ad ran in the Placer Herald on July 14, 1860. chris graves

Judah and Co.

Search for maps - Dutch Flat Wagon Road

From: Edward L Hodges

Five of my history buff friends visited the State Archives last month and viewed about 15 maps including the 100' Judah map showing in extreme detail the route of the RR over the summit. We also paid a visit to the RR Museum Library in Old Town and found some interesting maps showing CPRR stations in great detail. I was personally looking for more info. on the Dutch Flat Wagon Road. Specifically, I am looking for survey maps that might have been created in 1863-64. I know that R.H. Pratt was the general superintendent of road construction (see my attachments), and I suspect that maps were created because the road was closely associated with the RR.
Do you have suggestion on where I might look?
As I await your reply, I remain sincerely,

Ed Hodges, San Jose

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Harpers Description of May 10

From the sounds of it, I suspect they took their info from other papers.  They only mention three spikes (Hewes, Nevada, Arizona).
Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

Note my work address has changed to:
My personal address remains:

Monthly Record of Current Events

Our Record closes on the 28th of May.—The prominent events of the month are: The completion of the Pacific Railroad ...

The 10th of May will be noted as the day upon which the construction of a railroad from the Pacific coast to the Missouri River, and thence virtually, by lines already completed, to every part of the great Valley of the Mississippi and the whole Atlantic coast, was finally accomplished. We do not here propose to present the details of the immense preparatory work performed before the enterprise was fairly started; nor to say to which one, out of many scores for whom the credit has been claimed of having suggested the idea, the honor should he awarded. Within a short time after the value of the region of the Pacific slope was approximately ascertained, it became a settled conviction in the public mind that one or more railroads must be built to connect the Atlantic with the Pacific. Many routes were proposed, the arguments for each being based mainly upon sectional grounds as to whether the line should be northern, central, or southern. In 1853 Congress authorized the War Department to institute a series of surveys of the various routes proposed. The results of these surveys, comprised in thirteen folio volumes, were published. Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War, recommended a line mainly following the 32d parallel of latitude.

Nothing practical was done until July, 1862, when Congress passed an act granting aid in the construction of a railroad and telegraph line from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean. An association named the Union Pacific Railroad Company was empowered to build the line from a point in Nebraska Territory to the western boundary of Nevada, and there connect with the line of the Central Pacific Railroad Company, which bad been already chartered by the Legislature of California. The whole line, from the Missouri to the Bay of Sacramento, was to be completed not later than July 1, 1876, and the Company first reaching the boundary line might proceed until it met the other. The aid promised by Government was of a substantial character. The Company was to have the right of way through the Government lands for 200 feet on each side of the track; besides this the Company received a grant of ten alternate sections to the mile on each side of the railroad, with the right to nse material npon Government lands. Moreover, the Government promised its bonds, the interest payable in gold, at 6 per cent., at the rate of $16,000 per mile for the whole road; but for certain parts, amounting in all to about 150 miles, which were of especial difficulty, $48,000 per mile was granted. For the Californian section the uniform grant was $32,000 per mile. These issues of bonds were to be made only upon the certificate of Commissioners appointed by the Government that sections of twenty miles had been duly completed and thoroughly equipped as a first-class railroad.

With all these possible advantages the work at first advanced but slowly. The Pacific Union Company was organized in 1863, with a nominal capital of $100,000,000, but with the right to proceed when $2,000,000—a fiftieth part of the whole capital—was actually subscribed. It was hard to get even this two million of dollars. But it was finally raised, and the Company began to work. Omaha, on the Missouri River, was fixed upon as the starting-point, from which the work was to be pushed westward. Thence to Salt Lake City was a distance of something more than a thousand miles. Here, or hereabouts, it was expected that the junction would be made with the road to be pnshed eastward by the Pacific Central from Sacramento. The first actual work on the Union Pacific road was begun in August, 1864. Three months later 12 miles had been constructed, and the occasion was duly celebrated. The next year, 1865, 28 miles more were built. At this rate it would take more thau a third of a century to reach the point of junction, near the Mormon capital. The work now fell into the hands of men who were resolved to "push things," no matter at what cost. Heretofore a mile a day had been the utmost at which any railroad had ever been built. This rate was soou reached. In 1866 265 miles were built; next year 235 miles. In 1868 the work was pushed forward with a rapidity heretofore unknown. For weeks four miles a day was the usual rate at which rails were laid; and early in May, 1869, the thousand miles and more from Omaha to the head of Salt Lake had been built.

Meanwhile the Central Pacific Company had been pushing on their road to meet their eastern coadjutors. The line as originally planned was to run to the south of the Great Salt Lake, passing through Salt Lake City. It was changed so as to bend northward, passing the Salt Lake at its northwestern extremity; from this road a branch road of some fifty miles. in length must be built to connect the sacred city of the Mormons with the continental line.

The ceremony of placing the last tie of the united roads was performed with as much display as was possible. The scene was a grassy valley at the head of the Great Salt Lake. About 3000 people of all sorts had here congregated. Among them were many men who had borne a prominent part in the construction of the road. The final tie was of polished laurelwood, bound at the ends with silver bands. A golden spike sent by California, and a silver one by Nevada, and one of gold, silver, and iron by Arizona, were presented. These spikes were driven home by the representative officers of the two Companies by whom the roads had been constructed. Prayers were offered and some speeches made. Arrangements had been made by which the strokes of the hammers were connected with the telegraphic wires; and almost at the instant it was known on the Pacific and the Atlantic that the junction of the roads had been completed. The New York newspapers of the morning of the 12th contained a dispatch from San Francisco announcing that at the moment when the last spike had been driven an in voice of tea had been sent by the road, thus, as the dispatch read, "inaugurating the overland trade with China and Japan."

The length of the Union Pacific road, from Omaha to Ogden, is 1086 miles; that of the Central Pacific, from Ogden to Sacramento, is 690 miles—1776 in all From Sacramento to San Francisco, 124 miles, a road has been built. It is impossible to state with any accuracy the entire cost of the construction and equipment of these roads. Apart from grants of land and material, the subsidies afforded by Government amount to $52,000,000, of which $26,000,000 have been paid to the Union Pacific, and $20,000,000 to the Central Pacific, leaving $6,000,000 yet due to the roads. There can be no doubt that much of the roads has been hastily and imperfectly constructed; but in September of last year a Commission appointed by Government, headed by General Gouverneur K. Warren, reported upon 890 miles of the road then in operation: "Deficiencies exist, hut they are, almost without ex ception, those incident to all new roads, or of a character growing out of the peculiar difficulties encountered or inseparably connected with the unexampled progress of the work. They can all he supplied at an outlay hut little exceeding that which would have obviated them in the first instance, hut at the cost of greatly retarding the progress of the great work."

The accompanying map shows the general line of the two roads, which together may he called the Pacific Railroad. It runs almost due west, following closely the 41st parallel of latitude, bending southward a little when it approaches the Pacific coast. The map also indicates the railroads which, centring at Omaha, run in every direction, connecting this place with the Valley of the Mississippi, the Lake region, and the Atlantic seaboard. It is useless now to attempt to locate the towns which are every day springing up on the line of this long road. It passes in its course four distinct ranges of mountains: (1.) The Sierra Nevada, the highest elevation, about 100 miles from Sacramento, is 7042 feet; then it sinks gradually, hut with alternate risings and failings, to Ogden, 4320 feet. (2.) Then it climbs the Wasatch range, the highest point, 800 miles from Sacramento, being 7500 feet, whence it sinks 1500 feet; and (3.) climbs the Rocky Mountains through Bridger’s Pass, where, 1000 miles from Sacramento, it gains a height of 7500 feet. Thence it runs nearly level for fifty miles, when (4.) it ascends the Black Hills, the summit, 1250 miles from Sacramento, being 8242 feet ahove the ocean. Then the region slopes gradually downward for 500 miles, to Omaha, which is about 1000 feet above the ocean level. There are thus four several points where the road reaches an elevation higher than the loftiest peak in America east of the Mississippi River.

No two measurements of the absolute distance by the traveled routes between New York and San Francisco exactly agree; but the sum of the discrepancies hardly amounts to a hundred miles. It is as yet impossible to lay down the precise time which will be required for the transit. The following table is a close approximation to what is proposed to be accomplished; the whole tune being a few hours less than a week:

New York to Chicago 911 miles, 36 1/6 hours.
Chicago to Omaha 491 mi1es 24 1/2 hours.
Omaha to Ogden 1091 miles, 53 1/2 hours.
Ogden to Sacramento 743 miles, 43 3/4 hours.
Sacramento to San Francisco 117 miles, 3 1/2 hours.

3353 miles, 161 3/4 hours.

Of the commercial value of this road it is yet too early to speak with confidence. Four points, however, may be assumed: (1.) The heavy articles which enter into commerce will not pass over the line. The saving in time will not compensate for the heavy charges which must be imposed. (2.) The "way traffic" upon the line will for many years be inconsiderable. A great part of the road runs through a region which will always he very thinly peopled. (3.) Assuming that the road will be operated with tolerable accuracy, nearly all the passengers between the Pacific and the Atlantic will pass over this road. By it a person starting from San Francisco will reach New York in a week. By way of the Isthmus of Panama he would require nearly a month. (4.) The political uses of the road are incalculable. In case of war with a maritime power, our Government can transport an army to the defense of any point on the Pacific, without any possibility of obstruction from the enemy; whereas, were a force sent by sea, the vessels conveying it would be liable to capture either on the Atlantic or the Pacific side; to say nothing of the possibility that transit across the Isthmus of Panama might be blocked up. In this single point of view every dollar which the Government has expended in aiding the construction of this road has been wisely laid out.

Courtesy Cornell University Library, Making of America.

Brooks insulator found in an SPRR tunnel in Oregon

Thanks for your question.

It seems likely from your description that you have a 19th century Brooks telegraph insulator, and have misread the year as 1861 (it actually says 1867). The word that you can't read is "patent." It should look like the pictures on the Brooks insulator page. What you are calling porcelain is actually either the glass part of the insulator or the sulfur used to hold it together. The metal rod has a metal ramshorn shaped end (if the insulator is intact with no missing parts) which holds the telegraph wire. It isn't an insulator that was used underground. Somehow the insulator fell off the underside of the wooden support to which it was attached, or was discarded and was left on the ground where it may have become partially buried until it was found by your husband's father. When it was attached, it would have looked like the picture of the Brooks Insulators in a Yardarm.

Interesting to learn that Brooks insulators were used in Oregon. These insulators are rather rare.

On Feb 20, 2005, at 11:42 PM, wrote:

thank you for the quick response. this is all i know about the underground electric insulator. my husbands father was a worker for the southern pacific railroad. he was fighting a tunnel fire in oregon (i'm not sure what town) and they found this insulator in the tunnel in the ground.

it has a metal jacket with porcelain in the center with a ground rod going down the center. on the bottom it says:
(writing undecipherable)
august 6, 1861

his father was given a keychain that has the following inscription on it: royal order accredited smoke tasters and eaters reedsport, tunnel # 19 (either 19 or 16 but i'm sure it's 19)
1-30 to 2-8 1975

hope this can shed some light on what kind of insulator it is and any other information you can find would be GREATLY appreciated.

his father gave it to him and he has kept it in a special place for all these years not really knowing all that much about it except where it was found.

sorry i can't send a picture but this internet thing is new to me and havent figured out how to send pictures just yet. thanks again. yolanda bour

From: Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum
Subject: Re: information and pictures ["1861 CPRR underground electric insulator"]

Thanks for your question. Not sure what you mean by an "underground electric insulator." Please explain – do you mean an insulator that was found buried in the ground? Where? Is it glass or metal? Color? Is there any writing on the insulator?

The only insulators from the 1860's relating to the Central Pacific Railroad that we know of were used for the above ground telegraph line accompanying the railroad. The CPRR used metal 1867 Brooks Patent Insulators (rams horn type) which have glass inserts and fit into a hole on the underside of the telegraph pole wooden cross-piece.

The Central Pacific Railroad did not exist in 1861. The Pacific Railroad Act was not even signed by Lincoln until 1862.

The first transcontinental telegraph (not the later one along the transcontinental railroad) was completed in 1861, putting the Pony Express out of business, but we don't have information regarding what insulators were used.

Can you supply any additional information about what you have, where it was found, and e-mail us a photograph of your insulator?

On Feb 19, 2005, at 4:15 PM, wrote:

we looked up your information on the internet and were looking for pictures of an underground electric insulator from central pacific railroad dated 1861. we have an underground electric insulator from the pacific central railroad dated august 1861 and just wanted a point of reference. so how would we go about getting a picture of one? any help would be most appreciated. thank you, yolanda bour

Re: CP Coal to Oil

I came across a couple of photos of Truckee shedding light on the coal to oil conversion. Both photos feature locomotives with train number boards on the boilers. I've forgotten the exact date of the addition of number boards to locos, but I thought it was rather later than the conversion to oil.

In Ev Mills book "Dot, Dot, Dot, Done" (one of a group of paperback photo compilations done by Mills in 1981 with Pacific Coast Chapter - R&LHS support for the opening of the California State Railroad Museum), pg 75. A photo of SP 4-6-0 32176 in firetrain service at Truckee, and coal clearly in the tender. I'd think that a fire train locos would be one of the last to receive number boards.

In Signor, "Donner Pass", pg 129 center. Note the many coal buckets stacked up for loading into loco tenders. Not sure of the loco number, but it looks like a Harriman consolidation - with number boards.


Note my NEW address of

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

Re: CP loco fuel

A J Stevens was employed by San Francisco & Alameda (and SFO&A), Western Pacific (under CP), and CP. To my knowledge elder brother Charles W. Stevens never worked for the WP or the CP.


Note my NEW address of

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

AN Towne and CP loco fuel

I came across the following two pieces of correspondence today from copies of the Huntington microfilm records. They add light to a number of issues that we have been discussing in recent weeks.

Larry Mullaly

1. AN Towne to CP Huntington, January 21, 1870

You ask about fuel. I am fully aware expenses for fuel on our road are enormous and it has been my aim ever since my arrive here to economize as much as possible in this one particular...

On the Western Road we are using coal almost wholly. It costs us from Mt. Diablo coal mines delivered here at Sacramento and at San Francisco $8 per ton coin which is the very best figure I could make.

You may or may not be aware that we have some 4 1/2 or 5 miles of iron laid from what what was known as "Corral Hollow" station up to a point where we have been getting out gravel. I spent the entire day with Mr. Crocker last Monday going up Corral Hollow to the coal mines. We found good coal and I should say in abundance and I have urged upon our people the importance of laying down some light iron from the end of the gravel track to the mines which would be about 8 miles. The grading most of the way is light running up the creek. This will give us some considerable freight to transport over other portions of our line also giving us cheaper fuel for the Western and San Joaquin Roads. From what I could judge of the coal and what we have been using from these mines for the past few months I should say it was nearly as good as the Mount Diablo. It costs us $6 at the present time teaming and all at the end of the track.

We have also changed our switching engine at Ogden to burn coal and are at the present time changing two passenger engines and shall gradually work into coal on the East Division. We are, at present, paying $2 for the coal and are paying the UP folks $3 for transportation from the mines (which are some three miles from the main track near Evanston to Ogden.

I should be glad if you could bring anything to bear that would give us a less rate on the transportation of this coal over the UP road.

Yours etc.

AN Towne
Genl. Superintendent

2. AN Towne to CP Huntington, Feb. 21, 1870


Yours of the 11th arrived.

As we are now paying $3.50 per ton on coal from Evanston to Ogden I would be very glad if you could make accnt. [??] and a half for tone per mile arrangement with them for transportation.

At the present time we have one switcher at Ogden fitted for coal and one passenger engine will be out in a few days, another one in a few weeks, and probably within 8 or ten weeks we will have 5 engines all told ready for burning coal. The present amount of business on the Division between Ogden and Toano will require about 23 tons per day when the five engines [are in use??]. [With the?] business increase which we hope for requiring 2 freights a day each way, we would require 32 tons per day. In the course of 8 or 10 months should we conclude to burn coal between Toano and Winnemucca it would probably require about 33 additional tons per day for that division.

I should say that we will want more than 30 to 40 tons per day from May 1st to December 31, 1870. By that time we should know what success we had in burning it on the Salt Lake Division and might feel justified in changing our engines to burn it between Toano and Winnemucca.


AN Towne

Re: CP loco fuel

My belief is that Stevens was Master Mechanic at Oakland (for the CP/WP) at the time he was appointed General Master Mechanic.

At to his title as General Master Mechanic instead of General Superintendent of Motive Power (the title that both Perkins before Stevens and Small after Stevens had), this may reflect only a change in nomenclature instituted by A. N. Towne, and might be typical of CB&Q practices at the time. (Towne was a CB&Q man, as had Stevens been before coming to California in 1861.)


Note my NEW address of

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

The Other Last Spike

There were two last spikes! Where is the Silver Spike?
MAY 13 1869 Territorial Enterprise Virginia City Nev.

THE LAST SPIKE:- S.T.Gauge arrived in this city yesterday from the front, bringing with him the Nevada silver spike driven at the point where the connection was made between the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific railroads. After a train had passed over them both, the golden spike of California and the silver spike of Nevada were taken out and iron ones substituted. The two last spikes will be carefully preserved. The continent is now spanned, and there can be no more last spikes — nevermore, for it is as "Muchly" spanned as it ever can be. This being the case, these spikes will a hundred years hence be looked upon as sacred relics, and as such treasured and guarded with the most Jealous care.

Dale Darney


I have to find more information which is somewhere in my records about a seam of coal found near Verdi about two miles West at Crystal Peak. After some testing, it proved not to burn well.

A locomotive:-came down from Verdi on Wednesday last using for fuel nothing but Crystal Peak coal.

Dale Darney

Saturday, February 19, 2005

"Transcontinental Railroad" vs. "Pacific Railroad"

When did the terminology "Transcontinental Railroad" replace "Pacific Railroad" – how and why did this come about?

Re: CP loco fuel

I'll answer part of my own question about Stevens: I find a 2 September 1870 Union note (again from Best) that Stevens had just been made General Master Mechanic (not General Super of Motive Power as was Perkins).

This was just before the attempt to measure fuel consumption on the CP over the hill.

So, my question remains, was Stevens down on the WP before going to the CP?


Knife awarded for faithful service

Thanks for your question about the decorated knife.

Many "transcontinental railroad" novelty commemorative items have manufactured over the years.

What is now called the "transcontinental railroad" was called the "Pacific Railroad" in the 19th century.

One "Straight Razor Manufacturers" website lists: M. PRICE, San Francisco, CA, ca. 1856 - 1889.

There is a post "M Price Bowie Knife" that matches your description, that indicates that these are modern items made by Collins and Co., not like a real Model 1887 Hospital Corps Knife, but rather a modern fake with modern decorations, made to appeal to modern buyers, with no actual connection to Michael Price.

Knife Reproduction Recognition

Book: "Knifemakers of Old San Francisco" by Bernard R. Levine

Knife Links

On Feb 20, 2005, at 12:03 AM, wrote:

Hello My name is Gary Wolfer and I have purchased at auction a knife that has writing on both sides of the blade and carvings like scrimshaw of both engines, the Jupiter x and the No. 119 and above them Transcontinental Railroad and below them Promontory Summit Utah. At the base of the blade is the manufacturers name M. Price San Francisco.On the other side it says Awarded For Faithful Service and under that May God Continue the Unity of our Country on this Railroad unites the two Great Oceans of the world.  It is a large Knife with brass and wood handle and appears to be hand made. Have you ever heard of such a knife?

I couldn’t be so lucky. Could you return my e-mail and let me know whether or not it could be from that time.

Thanks Gary A. Wolfer

CP loco fuel

Here is note and question relating (perhaps) to the previous discussion of early use of coal.

We saw before that coal was apparently being tried first on the WP–as early as the fall of 1869.

Today I ran across a Gerry Best note (that's almost a stanza!) that "a car loaded with wood was placed behind each locomotive sent over the hill today to test and measure the amount consumed", from the Union of 17 September 1870.

This was two months after E.F. Perkins departed his post as general superintendent of motive power.

Question for Kyle (or anyone else with the info): when did A.J. Stevens assume that position?

Did Stevens come from the WP (or was that his brother?).


Railroad Stationery


I have several railroads' stationery from the 1920's - 1940's from trips taken by my grandfather.  

Included in my collection are some from the S.F. Overland Limited, the Columbine, the Portland Rose, The Los Angeles Limited and others.  

Is there a society or collector's club that may have interest in these items?  

Thom McCarthy
South Jordan, UT

Re: Lower Cascade Bridge

It was precisely because milepost assignments change over thime that I started from a known nearby reference point - Cisco - and calculated milage from there when using several sources from different years. Of course track realignments can effect even that, but in that particular area I think such adjustments have been pretty nominal - certainly for the purpose of identifying major features such as stations and bridges. Lynn also pointed out some 19th and early 20th century maps and station plats in the California State Railroad Museum collection, available through the CSRM Library (1-5 pm, Tuesday - Saturday).


Note my NEW address of

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

Re: Lower Cascade Bridge

Be careful in using mileposts of any era on SP Lines. In 1869 Milepost "Zero" was at Sacramento. By 1874 mileposts were measured from San Francisco freight depot at 4th street via Niles and Stockton. By 1887 distances were measured from SF 4th street via Antioch to Sacramento. In 1890 they were measured from SF via Suisun to Sacramento. In the 1901-1904 period of line changes the distances east of Reno were measured via Hazen and in 1912 Milepost "0" was made the apron on the Ferry slip in San Francisco. I gave the CSRM an almost complete set of station books from 1879 to 1973 which could be of some help. Lynn

Re: Lower Cascade Bridge

In Kraus' book he lists the same milepost for Cascade (station) and Upper Cascade Bridge.


Note my NEW address of

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum


Thank you for your reply. Every little bit of information helps.

I viewed many old photos at the Railroad Museum and compared them to my own–leaving me somewhat uncertain. The mileages shown on the Hart photos put the two bridges too far apart. That further confused me. But from all the responses I got to my query, and from the USGS topo (Soda Springs 7.5 min), it seems logical to conclude that Upper Cascade has to refer to the Kidd Lake drainage and Lower Cascade is Lower Cascade.

The location of the "Cascade Station" is my next objective. Signor mentions it several times in Donner Pass..., so maybe a little research in the Truckee Republican will clarify it's location.

Thanks again for your help.

Marilou West Ficklin

Re: Lower Cascade Bridge

For Bridges, see the "Report of the Special Commissioners upon the Central Pacific Railroad of California."
R. S. Williamson, Bvt. Lieut. Col. U.S.A., Major of Engineers, et. al., February 27, 1869.
Bridges are listed at page 8 of this report.

The 1897 USGS topo map is not very detailed.

Also see the A.A. Hart stereoviews of these two bridges:
#249 (96mi) "Lower Cascade Bridge, above Cisco."
#251 (98mi) "Upper Cascade Bridge, above Cisco."
(mileages listed on Hart Stereoviews are East from Sacramento)

Friday, February 18, 2005

Re: Lower Cascade Bridge

Some further information, from Kraus "High Road to Promontory", p 308 - list of stations and milage. Cisco is listed as milepost 92 (calculated from Sacramento, not from San Francisco as was later the standard). At milepost 98, 6 miles about Cisco, is Mountain Mill, presumably today's Troy. Lower Cascade Bridge is listed as milepost 98.5, and Upper Cascade Bridge is listed as milepost 99. Again, that seems to confirm the drainages mentioned below. [See a] map showing the bridges and Troy.


Note my NEW address of

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

Re: Lower Cascade Bridge

Checking a 1953 copy of "Southern Pacific circular 4, List of Officers, Agencies, Stations, Etc." I find Cisco listed as milepost 180, and Troy listed as milepost 186. Turning to Maptech which has digital parts of topo maps, I entered Cisco, California, and then followed the railroad line East. Just past Troy (maybe a mile) were the two drainages mentioned, Cascade Lake and Kidd Lake, with bridges shown. Sounds consistant with Wendell's locating them 7 miles above Cisco. Note the maps can be enlarged or reduced in scale. Also they can be right-clicked and saved as a jpeg.


Note my NEW address of

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

Re: Lower Cascade Bridge

Well, I hope you get a better reply than this. My timetable shows "Cascade" as seven miles above Cisco. But I have no idea the relationship of that "station" to the bridges.

A list of bridges dated 25 January 1869 records that the upper and lower Cascade bridges each had 204-foot spans, with the over all length of lower Cascade 364 feet and the upper one 244 feet. But nothing was said about the name of the water courses they crossed. Perhaps the length of crossing will help you pin down just which were the bridges you see on the map. BTW, the next bridge west of lower Cascade was Secret Town, while the next one east of the upper bridge was South Yuba.


Question: Lower Cascade Bridge

From: "M.W. Ficklin"

Can you give me the locations of Upper Cascade and Lower Cascade Bridges (between Cisco and Summit)?

Or to put it simply, can you confirm that Lower Cascade Bridge crosses the Cascade Lake drainage and that Upper Cascade Bridge crosses the Kidd Lake drainage?

I am referring to the lakes as shown on USGS Soda Springs 15' quadrangle.

So far I haven't found a CPRR or SP map that shows them as named.

(I am writing an article about the history of the area around what I believe to be Lower Cascade Bridge. I have photographed it and its surroundings. It would be embarrassing to be writing about the wrong bridge! )

Thanks for any help you can give.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Theo. D. Judah

I had the pleasure to review the 'paper' collection of an elderly gentleman today, in Folsom, Cal.
Included in his collection was a Coroners Jury Finding, signed by "Theo. D. Judah" in Folsom, Cal. in 1858.  The jury found the deceased, a lady, died of natural causes.
I was led to believe that this document was for sale, but not "today."
If any one would be interested in this autograph of Theo. D. Judah, kindly forward me your address and phone number, I'd be pleased to pass it on to the owner.
I imagine it would sell for $500 or so.
G J Chris Graves, NewCastle, Cal.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Telegraph Insulators

Have you seen the web site on telegraph insulators, including patent dates and numbers?

Note several rams-horn insulators included in the 1860s.  

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

Note my work address has changed to:
My personal address remains:

[links added]

Question: Great Grandfather Charles/Clarence Leonard Cole


yes, I am looking for any info on my great grandfather Charles/Clarence Leonard Cole, he worked the railroad between 1900-1940's in Texas, Colorado and California, maybe more states too. We sure would love info or stories thanks and god bless, Amanda Cole

Original railbed from 1868 era near Nightingale, NV

From: "West Coast British"

We just located the original railbed from 1868 era near Nightingale, NV! Saw spent coal on the ground too! Too foggy for photos, but will try again next trip. MG

On Jan 25, 2005, at 7:11 PM, West Coast British wrote:

Here's our two railroad items....

Michael Green
190 Airway Blvd
Livermore, CA 94551

Hopkins Family


The photo album of the Hopkins Family has left the family hands, and is, as this is written, in NewCastle. I note with interest the name and picture of Edward Witting Hopkins, with the notation "December, 1872, Initial Stock Holder, S.P.R.R."  Does any one have a family tree of the Hopkins family, or know the relation of Edward W. Hopkins to Mark Hopkins?
Thanks, G J Chris Graves, NewCastle, Cal.

San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada locomotive colors


I realize this is tangential by virtue of the SJ&SN's later absorption into the SP, but given the preserved combination car, I think it has some significance.

I've been reading the Porter Memorandum Books and found an interesting note regarding the finish of SJ&SN mogul locomotive "Jacob Brack." The engine was large for Porter, with 12x18 cylinders, 40" drivers and 26" truck wheels. It was equipped with a 1050 gallon tank on eight 24" wheels, no injector, (although #4 Sellars 1876 is written after that) and a 16" Williams lamp. The name "Jacob Brack" was to be put on the cab panel, and the tender was to be lettered "San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada" with no abbreviation for railroad following.

Of great interest to me was the note regarding the engine's painting.

It was to be painted in "our regular style of Painting with Gilt letters &c. & Blue paint where we usually put brown in tender striping, etc.."

This is remarkable – most entries specify lettering and numbering, but very few mention painting color or style; exceptions are generally a specific request from a purchaser, such as "black with gilt" and so on. This entry not only describes a specific request - blue striping - but also offers a rare account of brown striping as "usually" used on tenders.

Photographic evidence indicates that Porter began to employ a painting style similar to that of the Pennsylvania Railroad in about 1878, which used a black or dark green ground for panels of gold and white, with "stiles" or border stripes at the top and bottom of the cistern in brown. The brown "stile" (Baldwin's term) is documented on both contemporary Baldwin drawings of PRR tenders in the Stanford painting data books, as well as large scale models of Pennsylvania engines and the 1939 PRR restoration of a 1880s PRR consolidation locomotive. I had suspected that brown would have been employed in on the Porter copy and was very happy to see it confirmed.

I am not aware of photographs showing the engine as built, but believe it would have had a tender divided up into panels with ornamental ends, of gold, possibly with a smaller cream stripe inside, and the blue stiles at top and bottom of the tank.

One question remaining is the ground color – was it dark green or black, as PRR practice, or another shade? It would be logical that whatever color was employed would be visually harmonic with blue stiles, or that Porter would have determined another ground color to suit the blue. Other requests in the Porter memorandum books for the same time period mention black with gold, with one request for red wheels. While it seems safe to assume that red wheels were not a Porter standard, the requests for black may or may not be duplicating an existing finish, and entered to record the customer's desired color.

An additional locomotive ordered from Porter by the SJ&SN, the "B.F.Langford," has no mention of blue.

The obvious connection here is to the use of blue as a ground, or body color for the preserved SJ&SN combine – its clear that someone on the railroad liked the color and was in a position to employ its use. The other interesting thing is that this is a fairly early example of a deliberate harmony of colors used on both and engine and a passenger car. I've seen other examples, but nearly all are later, from about 1902-1907, and refer to engines painted Pullman color to match their train; the earlier example is a second or third hand account that describes an entire 1840s train, engine and cars, painted pale blue, but within a vastly different period of aesthetics.

All in all, the little line must have been a sight to see.

Jim Wilke

Sunday, February 13, 2005

First Coal Burning Engine in the West

The CP wasn't the first to burn coal in a locomotive in California.  Union Iron Works in San Francisco constructed 5 or 6 little 0-6-0T locos in 1866-68 for 2 different coal mine railroads on the north slope of Mt Diablo.  Not surprisingly, these burned coal.  

Larry, not sure off the top of my head what the 1944 Joslyn is, but suspect it is one of the rewrites of the SP Shops articles that Joslyn did, or one of the CP rosters he also did and revised periodically.  

As to the WP "Industry"/CP 2nd #25, we do have an early photo of it as CP #25 at Terrace, UT, as a coal burner (coal visible in the tender) in Best, Iron Horses to Promontory, pg 74.  The conversion to coal is fully within the capabilities of outlying shops, and needn't have been in Sacramento.  For instance, in 1874 the Carlin shops (largest CP shops in Eastern Nevada and Utah at the time) replaced the swivel joint in Eureka & Palisades 0-4-4T #1, a Mason bogie (a pretty extensive job, I think).  The part was cast in Sacramento (the drawing survives at CSRM) and shipped to Carlin for installation.  Carlin had a good-sized shop by 1869-70, and the conversion quite possibly occurred there, although changing wood grates for coal grates (which comprised most of the work - the Industry still has its funnel stack in the photo) could likely have been handled at the smaller shops associated with the roundhouses further east at Toano and Terrace.  And since the eastern part of the CP was the district using coal (from Utah and Wyoming), it makes sense that the conversion occurred there rather than in Sacramento.  See Best pgs 73-74.  Also keep in mind that the Union Pacific locos such as #119 were coal burners.  (It seems to me there is a "smokeless" engine converted in Sacramento for the Oakland and Alameda lines a short time later - Wendell, do you recall?)  

As a side note, I've seen a better copy of the photo of the WP Industry/CP #25.  The builder's plate and smokebox front clearly identifies the loco as Norris-Lancaster c/n 14, built in 1864 (consistent with what Best lists).  

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

Note my work address has changed to:
My personal address remains:    

>>> Larry Mullaly 02/13/05 1:42 PM >>>

I have been working with Arnold Menke for some time on an article dealing with SP's transition from coal to oil. This past week, Arnold submitted the following additional information:  

Western Pacific "I", the Industry, became the first coal-burner in 1870, and later that year it was running between Ogden and Terrace, Utah, as Central Pacific second 25.[i]  

[1] Joslyn (1944, p. 19); Diebert and Strapac (1987, p. 35, 78).  

It seems very odd that the "Western Pacific"  (by 1870, CP in all but name) would convert an engine to coal burning only to have the CP ship it off to the wilds of Utah.  A more logical pattern would be that the engine was being shopped in Sacramento, at which time it was converted to coal burning and then sent east.  

I am not familiar with the Joselyn 1944 source  that Arnold cites.  Diebert and Strapac do give no reference for saying the this was the "first locomotive on the West Coast to burn coal fuel."  

Anything you can add would be appreciated.

Golden Spike

I note in Robin Lampson's collection at the University of the Pacific, in the detailed inventory of the collection it lists under item 5.6 a copy of the photograph of the Hewes spike.  Perhaps this is the best source for a copy of the photo.  There is also other golden Spike and Hewes material in the collection in Box 5.  

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

Note my work address has changed to:
My personal address remains:

Re: "The Golden Spike is Missing"

Thanks for getting ["The Golden Spike is Missing" by Robin Lampson] up on the site.


Note my NEW address of

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Swung at the spike and missed

It has been claimed that no first hand accounts support the "fable" that "at Promontory Stanford supposedly swung at the spike and missed" and also claimed that "Stanford participated but Durant did not in 'driving' the golden spike."

However, Alexander Toponce's first hand account written about 1919 in his autobiography states that:

"When they came to drive the last spike. Governor Stanford, president of the Central Pacific, took the sledge and the first time he struck he missed the spike and hit the rail.

What a howl went up! Irish, Chinese, Mexicans, and everybody yelled with delight. Everybody slapped everybody else on the back and yelled 'He missed it. Yee.' The engineers blew the whistles and rang their bells. Then Stanford tried it again and tapped the spike and the telegraph operators had fixed their instruments so that the tap was reported in all the offices, east and west, and set bells to tapping in hundreds of towns and cities. W. N. Shilling was one of the telegraph operators.

Then Vice President T. C. Durant of the Union Pacific took up the sledge and he missed the spike the first time. Then everybody slapped everybody else again and yelled, 'He missed it, [too], yow!' "

Any comments?

Unknown: Villard Auto Signal Co. Semaphore


We have a Villard Auto Signal Co. semaphore device that we're unsure of whether it's for an automobile or for a railroad. It's from Rochester, NY, and still has its original red and white chevron paint (see photos). I've heard of manual turn indicators for early automobiles, but so far the car  history association folks haven't been able to identify it. We've even wondered if it were a toy piece for an oversized railroad set. Any ideas? -C

Villard Auto Signal Co. semaphore

Villard Auto Signal Co. semaphore

Re: Good Sites for Old Photos

From: Kevin Bunker kidding! I wonder if the one (see attached) shows the Towle Bros spur below the sheds...or is this some forgotten M of W access track, perhaps for servicing the sheds from below, say, with a fire train (such as spraying the sheds down in summer heat)?  

--Kevin B

Friday, February 11, 2005

Good Sites for Old Photos

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Interesting Web Sites

I came across an interesting autobiography of James Kleiser.

He worked on the snowsheds and bridges of the CPRR in the 1860s.

Robert Louis Stevenson's ["Across The Plains"] as a pdf. Stevenson crossed the continent by emigrant train in 1879 and wrote in some detail about the experience. The Central Pacific portion of the trip was in the then-brand new emigrant sleeping cars which the CP had just introduced, and which the UP soon copied.


Note my NEW address of

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Chinese on the 1852 census

Page 194 of the California 1852 census, that shows the 18 Chinese workers on the farm of Strobridge and Pitcher has been made available, courtesy of G.J. "Chris" Graves and Carol Graves.

Adv: Lucas-Price Stereoscope Kits - gift shop idea

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Cab forwards

I'm exploring an area that is pretty new to me–the origin of the SP cab forwards.

The conventional wisdom is that they were inspired by William Thomas's narrow gauge cab forward on the NPC. Do any of you know the source of the connection between Thomas and the SP Back-ups? I'd like to know who–and where–this connection was first made (I'll settle for "first made" in print).

I paste in below an article from the Reno Gazette-Journal of 2004. It conveys a lot of information about the event, and even names a name: Charles Browning. Do any of you know any more about this fellow? This article sounds like it was drawn from a published and detailed source.

My recent interest in this issue comes from the realization that the CP had been operating a small fleet of "cab forwards" since the early 1870s down at Oakland–and were still operating them when the first mallets were smoking their way over the Sierra. I refer to the 2-6-2Ts, which were apparently operated cab forward as often as not. On one hand, these locomotives may–in some unrecognized way–have inspired William Thomas. Since they were right across the bay from him, he would certainly have been aware of them, and likely knew first-hand engineers who operated them. He may heven have ridden in their cabs, for all we know. Moreover, and perhaps more significantly, their long and successful use created a body of senior locomotive engineers well-conditioned to running "backwards" at speed. This collective experience may well have had something to do with the engineers' willingness to try something novel.

Engine gasses in Sierra tunnels create problem

Sparks Centennial Commission
3/29/2004 04:51 pm

The No. 4000 and No. 4001 were the first of the mallets purchased by the Southern Pacific Railroad. They were built in the normal configuration with the cab-to-the-rear.

Mallets are railroad engines having more than the usual number of wheels and axles. Because of this, the train�s weight was distributed over more axles. And because of its design, mallets were very well suited to travel in mountains where there are short curves.

When placed in service on �the hill� (aka Donner Pass), mallets out performed all the existing power by a wide margin. But it became immediately evident that there were some serious problems.

The amount of exhaust gasses that left the stack was so much greater in volume and so heavily concentrated that the engine men experienced smoke asphyxiation and called for an immediate solution.

The railroad responded by issuing respirators to the engine crew, but the long snow sheds only exacerbated the smoke inhalation problem. Engine crews began refusing to take the engines over the hill.

C. Browning Jr., the Engineer of Tests at the Sacramento shops, decided to see and experience firsthand what the problem was by riding in the cab of No. 4000.

It took him awhile to recover from his ordeal, and at that time, he met with Mr. Heintzelman, the superintendent of motive power, along with Frank Russell and several other officials.

Together, they held a conversation that ultimately changed the way the railroad handled moving trains through the mountains.

Heintzelman said the problem of the smoke in the cab must be solved because those engines were bought to run on �the hill,� and they will run on �the hill.� Any idea no matter how far fetched would be considered.

Many suggestions on attacking the problem were made.

It was Charles Browning who stepped forward. He recalled another type of engine that might be the solution. He recited the advantages of the Thomas engine with respect to a Sierra Grade. That area had many snow sheds in critical locations.

Browning pointed out that if the cab was in front, the fumes and stack gasses would be behind since the smoke box and stack gasses would be a minimum of 70 feet to the rear of the cab.

The suggestion solved two problems. By placing the cab forward, the smoke box at the tender end solved the employees� respiratory problems, and the engineer and brakemen now would be able to have clear visibility.

The Southern Pacific subsequently purchased 198 of the Cab Forwards, commonly called �back up mallies.�

Copyright � 2005 The Reno Gazette-Journal


Re: Chinese American 19th century music

Bruce Cooper located a dissertation about 19th century Chinese-American music that has been republished as a book: "Yellowface: Creating The Chinese In American Popular Music And Performance, 1850s-1920s" by Dr. KRYSTYN R. MOON who is now at Georgia State University.

Re: Chinese American 19th century music

I haven't the least idea, but what a fascinating question. Since I am presuming that all such music was person-to-person and may well have been regional and traditional in nature, where would a researcher start? Back in China, to learn what was popularly sung and played on smaller portable instruments in the provinces at the same interval and for decades or a century before?
--Kevin B

Chinese American 19th century music

Date: February 8, 2005 8:58:17 AM EST
Subject: Chinese American 19th century music

Dear Sirs, nimen hao?
I would sincerely appreciate any leads you could give me for discovering sources of Chinese-American music of the 19th century of any kind, especially related to the Central Pacific railway construction period. I am very interested in doing musical research in this area, and am an old friend/colleague of the California pianist, Jon Jang, who you may know, and I am hoping he may be able to steer me to something as well. Hoping to hear news from you, xiexie.

Eddy Goltz
Lisbon Portugal

Monday, February 07, 2005

Re: Dates relating to gauge of Pacific railroad.

From: "chris graves"

I noted with interest your mention of the WP. I find, from Colfax, Cal. East to Central Nevada, wrought iron 'pear' rail branded RIC 64, which I suspect was used by the Associates for side rail. The source of this 50 lb iron has been a mystery, my current thoughts revolve around the WP as it ran from San Jose to Niles in early 1865. The rolling mill that made this rail is Rensselaer Iron Co. of Troy, New York, but for whom it was originally made is not known. Should you find, in your Washington, DC search, a reference to this iron, I would be most pleased to learn of it.
Thanks, G J Chris Graves, NewCastle, Cal.

Re: Dates relating to gauge of Pacific railroad.

Passing note - some sources put the Market Street RR gauge at 5 foot 6 inches, not just 5 foot.

Interestingly, Mrs Duncan's Teakettle (the return flued geared engine at Duncan's Mills) is reported to be 5 foot 6 inch gauge.


Note my NEW address of

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

Re: Dates relating to gauge of Pacific railroad.

From: "Wendell Huffman"

One other thing I did not mention--

In Wesley Griswold's "Work of Giants" discussion of the January cabinet meeting at which the gauge of the Pacific railroad was discussed, and subsequent to which Lincoln decided upon the 5 foot gauge, Griswold states that one George Davis addressed the issue. According to Griswold, Davis was a friend of Lincoln's, and he was also a railroad equipment dealer--and was at the meeting at Huntington's request. Several of the first CP locomotives were actually purchased from Davis rather than the builder. One of those engines was the Stanford.

Davis is a character about whom I know little, but it may be interesting to watch for his name.

I swear, politics was the oil that lubricated the Central Pacific.



From: "chris graves"

Small world, here!
Benj. Leete was Montagues assistant, he attended a wedding in 1890 in Oakland.  The gal getting married, Alice Hunt (Curtis) was an artist, she born in 1855, died in 1953.  Her work hangs in this house. Everyone is connected........gjg

Re: Dates relating to gauge of Pacific railroad.

From: "Wendell Huffman"

I'm not sure the SVRR is really too foreign an issue to the gauging of the Pacific Railroad.

The CP's decision to build their line directly from Sacramento–rather than connecting at Auburn with the SVRR-SP&N–was not made until after the Pacific RR Act–when the requirement that they build 40 miles on their own dime was made law (and 40 miles in the valley was a lot cheeper than 40 miles in the mountains. The foreign iron wasn't that big an issue–the grade itself was an investment, and the CP regularly used foreign iron for side tracks.)

James McDougall was also a director of the SVRR–back when he was congressman. I did not know about his involvement with the early SP–that is interesting. I've never been able to figure out which way McDougall thought (in the 1850s) the railroad should run–around the north end of the Sierra or the south. His involvement with the SP rather explains his interest in the southern route. San Francisco generally favored the southern route as the city was only well situated to be the natural terminus of a railroad approaching from the south. But the whole SF-SJ and WP scheme was designed to make sure that the SV's line to the north was connected with San Francisco–rather than the locally dreaded Benicia-Marysville National Railroad's route.

BTW, I suspect the entire five-foot gauge issue was the historical accident of the old "Elephant" having been built for the South Side Railroad of Norfolk, Virginia. I suspect the SVRR was built to five foot gauge to take advantage of that one locomotive already in California.


Re: Dates relating to gauge of Pacific railroad.

From: "Randall Hees"

I have a thought, and couple of other dates: Of course, the Market Street Railroad was 5' gauge, and by eventually was controlled by the SF&SJ (the Sacramento Valley was 5' as well, but that line was not as politially connected as the SF&SJ, so is less important for this discussion)

July 15, 1862 Letter from James A McDougall and James H Campbell (chairs of Senate and House committees on Pacific Railroad) to Lincoln, asking him to set gauge, and suggesting 5’ (letter in Lincoln papers, LofC)

January 24, 1863 Telegram from A. Brody to Lincoln questioning choice of track gauge for Pacific Railroad (LOC, Lincoln papers) (this seems to confirm the date of early January for the gauge decision)

This reads in part " I have been informed that the question of gauge of the Pacific Railroad is about to be decided & that a gauge different fro that all the roads in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Northern Missouri is likely to be adopted. I understand that the argument in favor of a five foot gauge as the fact that a portion of the line on the Pacific Coast has adopted that gauge... "

James McDougall is a Senator from California, a San Francisco "war" democrat (supports the Union) and chair of the Senate committee for the Pacific Railroad. He is one of two men (the other being Timothy Guy Phelps, house member from San Mateo) identified as being present when Huntington and Judah agree to release the rights to build between Sacramento and San Francisco (the Western Pacific) toa group of primarily San Francisco business men. This group, while not identical to the groups building the San Francisco and San Jose and later the Southern Pacific, have many common directors. As chair of the Pacific Railroad committee McDougall will appoint Judah as clerk of the committee.

Both Phelps and McDougall will hold board positions with the three San Francisco railroads. I suspect, but so far can't prove that both men were at least peripherally members of Ralston's Bank Ring. (McDougall on one of the earlier boards of the SF&SJ, Phelps on the SF&SJ, and is the President of the first incorporation of the Southern Pacific)

Phelps a Republican runs against Stanford for governor. Later Phelps will be run out of the Republican Party, in an effort lead by E Soule. I am suspicious (but can't prove) that the attack is payback from Stanford. Locally (on the Peninsula) Phelps is well liked and known as an honest man.

E Soule is a Sacramento area blacksmith/wagon builder, who builds some of the push carts used to build the CP, who is one of the organizers of the May 10 1869 celebration in Sacramento, will later purchase part of the Kimball works, and will sue Kimball asserting bankrupcy (The court turns down the claim, and Soule's lawer for the attemp is associated with Stanford) Soule will later be the head of grounds for Stanford University. Finally, Soule and Stanford grew up together in New York...

With both Phelps and Kimball possibly associated with Ralston, can some of this be explained as a conflict between Ralston and the CP?

I am going to have a week in Washington DC next month. I plan on spending time with the Lincoln papers... There may be stuff there. Phelps is supposed to have been a friend of Lincoln, and "had his ear". Last year I went through the Pacific Railroad Committee notes, but only the Standing committee stuff. It was a select committee until 1861, then made a standing committee. The committee records are incomplete, and the archivist not particularly helpful (not bad, just not helpful) and now that I have done more background research I should understand better. I have already read most of the Secretary of the Interior information on the WP, but will go to the archives at College Park to tie up some loose ends. I have identified the WP ledgers in the Bureau of public dept as another target. If people have specific requests I will try to oblige.


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Dates relating to gauge of Pacific railroad.

On Feb 6, 2005, at 1:23 AM, Wendell Huffman wrote:

Here are some dates relating to the gauge of the Pacific railroad–which may have some relavance to discussion of the gauge of the SF&SJ and their locomotives:

24 January 1863 Lincoln adopted 5' as gauge of rr (Bee 24 January). According to Griswold, this decision was made in Washington on 20 January.

9 October 1863 report that Congress changed gauge to 4'8-1/2" (Union 9 October)–note this report was less that three weeks before the laying of first rail on CP (26 October 1863)–and it was more likely the anticipated laying of rail that prompted the report rather than any fresh news from Washington. In fact–again according to Griswold–the bill setting the gauge was signed by Lincoln on 13 March 1863.

It is entirely consistent with these dates that the first three SF&SJ engines were built five-foot gauge and not converted until being set up in San Francisco. "San Jose" was in service standard gauge by 24 June 1863.

There was a considerable delay between the invoice for CP's "Stanford" on 19 March 1863 and its sailing from New York on 16 May. It has been speculated that this time was occupied in converting it from five-foot to Pacific standard. Its erection in California was reported in progress on 20 October.


[Link added]

Saturday, February 05, 2005

David Bain will be Speaker at Promontory Summit on May 10, 2005.

From: "chris graves"
Date: February 5, 2005 10:00:15 PM EST
Subject: David H. Bain

David Bain (Empire Express, The Old Iron Road) will be Speaker at Promontory Summit on May 10, 2005.  He was Speaker in 2001, and did a really nice job.
Hoping to see you all there.   gjg

Friday, February 04, 2005

Re: How many Stars did the Flag have that flew at the original Golden Spike ceremony? 02/04/05 10:40AM >>>

The question about the appearance of the flag at Promontory brings up a host of questions about the summit on May 10, 1869. Don’t know if the group wants to tackle more such questions, but a review of the article by J. N. Bowman published in 1956 may be a vehicle for exploring assumptions about the scene, ceremony and impedimenta. Some of my thoughts are in the attached. I'm out the next couple weeks,

Bob Spude * Historian * Cultural Resources Management * National Park Service * Intermountain Region * 505.988.6770 Voice * 505.988.6876 Fax

The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Millionth Visitor to the CPRR Museum

Just moments ago, the Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum website received its millionth visitor!

We expected that the website in memory of great-great-grandfather Lewis Metzler Clement illustrated by period photographs would be a fairly obscure topic, but have been amazed and delighted that our on-line museum has become such a popular source of information about the Pacific Railroad.

It has been most gratifying to have so many people contribute to this growing effort. Thanks for all your help and generous contributions over the past six years!

P.S. ... If you have additional 19th century material or photographs relating to the transcontinental railroad that you would like to see on the web, we would be delighted to be able to include your contribution – please consider this an open invitation. (Just as incredible as the number of visitors is the technological advancement over the past six years in the speed and capacity of the Internet. Even as the CPRR Museum's content has grown to a gigabyte of historic images, articles, etc. available at, utilization is now at only 2% of the even faster growing storage capacity, so there is essentially unlimited room to add additional historic content!)

Scanning 19th Century Albumen Prints with DIGITAL ICE Photo Print Technology


We purchased an EPSON Perfection 4870 Photo Scanner in the hopes of using [Kodak's] DIGITAL ICE Photo Print Technology to remove the fine surface cracks that are present in all 19th century albumen prints and which significantly degrade the quality of such scans.

An example of how badly scans of high quality images are degraded by these ubiquitous cracks can be seen on [a] 1,200 dpi scan ...

Unfortunately, because the cracks are of a much smaller scale than the macroscopic defects in cracked prints for which your software apparently is optimized, automatic defect removal just does not currently work. The microscopic cracks are well within the 4,800 dpi resolution of the Epson scanner, but the software does not correctly identify these as defects to repair. No reason is apparent why your method of doing a double scan with different lighting angles should not work equally as well at the smaller scale needed to remove these surface cracks

We hope that the DIGITAL ICE Photo Print Technology could easily repair the fine cracks seen in albumen prints, if the parameters of your algorithm could be adjusted by the user for the microscopic size of the cracks, or if a "fine surface cracks" option could be added to the software.

Would Kodak be willing to attempt to make DIGITAL ICE Photo Print Technology useful for scanning 19th century albumen prints? Most museums and libraries have 19th century photographic prints in their collections, so making Kodak's software work to automatically repair historic albumen print images would be extremely helpful. ...


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Sacramento Placer & Nevada RR

From: "chris graves"
Date: February 1, 2005 11:06:05 AM EST

Well, after 140 years, we found [the Sacramento Placer & Nevada Railroad original grade].

[See the newspaper story in today's Auburn Journal:

" ... Railroad history buff Chris Graves of Newcastle said the recent re-discovery of a copy of the original Sacramento Placer & Nevada Railroad maps from 1861, with surveyor information on grades and turns, allowed a modern-day survey with a global positioning system. With the information from the 1861 map locating the old railbed's twists and turns, historians and surveyors were able to overlay the old railway onto a modern-day map. Not surprisingly, much of the route traveled along or near what is now Auburn Folsom Road. Part is also underwater, inundated by the Folsom Reservoir. 'The railroad ran 11 miles and except for a 750-foot gap in what is now Hidden Lake Estates, we now know where every single foot of it is,' Graves said. ... "]


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