Thursday, March 31, 2005

transcontinental railroad workers [James Morrison Bain]

From: "Mary I. Hays"

Hi. My grandfather, James Morrison Bain was a barber on the railroad from Chicago to Los Angeles around the 1930's. I would have no idea where to search for information on him or about railroad barbers. My oldest brother, George, said he would go down to the train station in Flagstaff, Arizona in the early 1970's and talk to old timers who remembered our grandfather. I don't know what rail line he worked for, but I believe it was Union Pacific. He had been a barber in his hometown of Fraserburgh, Scotland and well respected there until moving his family to Chicago in the 1920's. He remained in his occupation until his death on October 16, 1937 and my mother tells me that grandpa may have actually been on the job when he died. His son, William Bain, was my father. Any information people could provide me with about my grandfather or about railroad barbers in general would be appreciated. I hope this helps and adds to the fascinating history of our railways.

Mary I. Hays
Rio Rico, AZ

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

California Central RR

Bancroft, H.H., History of California, San Francisco, 1890, vol. XXIV, page 586:

"In December 1869 ... [the California and Oregon RR Co.] became consolidated with the Yuba Railroad company, (39) organized in 1862 to extend the California Central railroad (40) from Lincoln to a point at or near Marysville, and in which the Central Pacific had a controlling interest."

Footnote 39 " The first officers of the Yuba company were Samuel Brannan, pres't, James P. Flint, vice-pres't, J. M. Shotwell sec. and treas'r., Charles Dana , H. B. Williams and other directors. The company was composed of the bondholders of the defunct Cal. Central R. R., who, to make the bonds of the old road available, found it necessary to push the new road through to the Yuba river."

Footnote 40 "The Cal. Central R. R. was commenced in 1858 to run from Folsom to Marysville, but it was completed no further than Lincoln. Its first officers were J. C. Fall, pres't, Wiliam [sic] Hawley, vice pres't, Ira A. Eaton sec., John A. Paxton, teas'r, T. D. Judah chief eng'r, John H. Kinkead, H. P. Catlin, S. T. Watts, the other directors. The Central Pacific in 1863 purchased this Cal. Central at sheriff's sale and that portion between Roseville and Folsom was abandoned. [ The rest of the note concerns the Cal. Northern, or Northern Central as it was sometimes called, [ which] was incorporated in 1860...]

—Gene Lewis [from the R&LHS Newsgroup]

Dennis Petrolla asked about the route between Folsom and Roseville. As far as I know the line crossed the American River about where the present footbridge is upstream of the Rainbow Bridge and followed Greenback Lane through the junction with the Auburn-Folsom Road. If I remember, there used to be a cut in the hill further up Greenback Lane where the line had run through. Due to highway improvements, this cut doesn't seem to be there anymore. Locations along the line included Williams, Grider's and Orchards, but not sure if this was the section between Lincoln and Roseville. The line was abandoned in 1868.

Also, there was the Sacramento, Placer and Nevada that connected with the Callfornia Central near Folsom that ran towards Auburn. From Wildwood Station (probably what is now Newcastle) it ran through the east side of Auburn Ravine, Buckeye Ravine, Secret Ravine, Oak House, Indian Valley House, Pine Grove House, Hawes, to the connection with the California Central. When the construction of the Central Pacific reached Newcastle, the line was torn up. I found this info from an old newspaper account many years ago in the California State Library.

Further information on the line can be found in "Bonanza Railroads" By Gilbert H. Kneiss, Stanford University Press (1954) and "First in the West - The Sacramento Valley Railroad" by Cindy L. Baker, City of Folsom (1996).

The latter had a photo of the train on the American River bridge, and may be the location of the Rainbow Bridge instead of the present footbridge. Copies of both books are no doubt contained in the world famous California State Railroad Museum!

—John Minke [from the R&LHS Newsgroup]

Monday, March 28, 2005

Rebuilding the CP Huntington

From: "Larry Mullaly"

Bob Pecotich,

Your question about whether or not the San Francisco Shops played a role in rebuilding the CP Huntington gave me the opportunity to assemble some source material that I have been gathering. Critiques will be welcome. ...

Larry Mullaly

Work in Progress: March 28, 2005

SP’s San Francisco Shops and the Rebuilding the CP Huntington

By Larry Mullaly

The Southern Pacific Railroad’s predecessor line, the San Francisco & San Jose had established repair shops in San Francisco as early as 1864. The Feb. 9, 1866 US Railroad Commissioners’ Report on the newly completed SF&SJ states: "The machine shops and engine house are located at the City of San Francisco, at which place there is a large shop for building and repairing cars, a machine shop for putting up and repairing locomotives and an engine house all built of wood of sufficient capacity to do the work required."

Throughout the early 1870’s, the SF&SJ line – now being extended under the flag of the Southern Pacific Railroad of California—continued to shop its "North Division" engines (those running between San Francisco and Soledad) in its San Francisco shops. Central Pacific Shops records indirectly confirm this practice. The Logbook of the CP Shops 1870-1874 [in its photocopied form at CSRM] shows a number of engines shopped in Sacramento prior to their purchase by the SP. Among these are CP Huntington, Mohave, Black Deer and Raven. But once a formal transfer of ownership had taken place between the CP and the SP there is no record during this period of an SP locomotive being shopped in Sacramento. Associate Superintendent Bassett’s journal for 1873 frequently refers to engines being sent to shops in San Francisco for servicing, including engines on temporary assignment leased from the CP.

During these early years, even as CP Master Mechanic AJ Stevens began his Sacramento tenure, the SP retained its own master mechanic, RB Bishop. In court testimony made in the summer 1873, Bishop described his background: "I have been in the business of machinist 25 or more years, and I am thoroughly acquainted with locomotive building; has been may business for a good many years." Bishop described work done to the locomotive Red Eagleshortly after it was purchased from the CP in 1872. "During the first week of June last we overhauled her at the San Francisco shop," he declared [California Supreme Court: Perry vs. SPRR Co., p. 35.]

By 1874 Bishop was replaced as Southern Pacific Master Mechanic by John T. Wilson who retained this post at least the mid-1880. The work conducted by Wilson’s San Francisco Shops was significant. A letter from CP Huntington to DD Colton dated April 6, 1875 declares: "I hand you the enclosed railroad receipt for the Locomotive #23 now en route for Cal[ifornia] and the Quadrant Table, which you will please hand to Mr. Wilson, the Master Mechanic as he will want it in working the engine." In testimony given during the Ellen Colton vs. Leland Stanford trail [p. 9359]. Wilson confirmed that the practice of setting up new engines was commonplace at San Francisco in the 1870s.

The relationship between the CP and SP Master Mechanics between 1870 and 1885, is complicated by the fact that SP’s Southern Los Angeles Division as well as the Tulare Division were leased and operated by the Central Pacific. As a result, the oversight of engines on "Southern Lines" of the Southern Pacific (i.e., those south of Goshen) took place under mechanics reporting to AJ Stevens.

But Stevens’ jurisdiction did not extend to San Francisco. Until about 1874, the Master Mechanic in San Francisco reported to Alban Towne through AC Bassett, the SP North Division Assistant Superintendent. After that time the SP North Division was formally severed from Town’s oversight, leaving the SP Master Mechanic reporting to Superintendent Bassett and then the SP Board of Directors.

The distinction between the CP and SP is apparent in Collis Huntington’s ire at the sale of five used engines by the CP to the SP in 1873 at what Huntington judged as inflated prices. "The mechanical department of the C[entral] P[acific].... so as to keep the C.P. account looking well...turned over to the SP five old locomotives for nearly twice what they were worth," Huntington wrote to Colton on October 1, 1874. Also revealing

In a letter from SP Northern Division Superintendent AC Bassett to CP Huntington of January 5, 1875 discussed the SP’s choice of new motive power needed for the Tehachapi’s "On Sunday last Mr. Crocker instructed me to talk with master mechanic Wilson in regard to the kind of locomotive he thought most desirable for the hill work on the Southern Extension SPPRR and I write you the result. I enclose a communication from Wilson, his absence down the line has caused the delay." Wilson as the representative of the railroad that owned the locomotives (that is, the SP) was a determining voice.

All of the above provides context for the story of the rebuilding of the CP Huntington. On June 5, 1872 the C.P. Huntington, while hauling a Watsonville-bound gravel train, collided with a northbound train near Gilroy and was severely damaged. The San Jose Mercury of June 7, 1872, noted: "the construction locomotive is small, and when the collision occurred the larger engine went completely through the smaller, taking in steam boxes, cylinders, smoke stack, driving wheels, boilers, etc., and leaving it a mass of ruins."

Despite the heavy damage, the engine remained on the Southern Pacific roster. It was not repaired for some time. Two years later the railroad reported that "No. 1.... requires rebuilding." [Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company to the Stockholders for the Year Ending, June 30, 1874, p. 19.] Not until late 1874 or early 1875 was the CP Huntington finally rebuilt. May 1, 1875, the following account appeared in the Minor Scientific Press of Nevada – most likely taken from an article originally appearing in a San Francisco newspaper.


Editors Press: – About two years ago C.P. Huntington met with a terrible accident, and got most fearfully smashed out of form and shape. I do not mean the gentleman who bears that name, and who occupies so conspicuous a position in railroad affairs on this coast, but his namesake, the engine Number 1, belonging to the S.P.R.R. or C.P. Huntington, was one of the engines that had the misfortune to be engaged in the collision that occurred on that road, when one engineer, White, was killed, and Jerry Sullivan, and old McSawyer and other employees of the road were badly injured, and if I remember right, there some three or four passengers killed also. The engines met fact to face while they were going at the rate of twenty-five miles an hours, so that it can be easily imagined that they must have been pretty severely handled; indeed they were literally shivered to atoms. Engine Number 2 was repaired right away, but engine No. 1 was stowed up for a time, and it was not until the last few months that the administration determined to rebuild again.

Last week it was finished, and certainly a peculiar looking craft it is. The engine is of a most unique pattern, there being but one or two others like it on the coast. The front of the engine rests on a truck somewhat n the same manner that other locomotives do, but there is but one pair of driving wheels, which are located immediately in front of the fire-box, while the hind part of the engine and the tender, which are joined together, rest on a single truck, which brings up the rear. The engine has been rebuilt in the most thorough manner by Messrs. Wilson & Smith, and all the latest improvements in locomotives have been put on that go to make a first-class engine. With the exception of one or two plates in the centre of the boiler, it is entirely new, being built at the boiler shops of the company, by Mr. J. Kelshaw. There are also new cylinders, steam-chests, steam-pipes, dry-pipes, and indeed, nearly all the main parts of the engine, with the exception of the wheels and a few other items, are new, so that as she stands to-day, it is more as a new engine than one that has been simply rebuilt. One of the Westinghouse air brakes has been put on, but the position of the air drum, and the various pipes leading thereto tend rather to detract than otherwise from the looks of the engine, and the various pipes leading thereto, tend rather to detract than otherwise from the looks of the engine, giving it a clumsy and muddled appearance. It has been painted throughout in the most somber colors that could possibly have been thought of, without making it black altogether and looks in striking contrast to the gay and bright looking engines that come out here from the East. With the exception of the bottom part of the smoke stack, which, strangely enough has been painted a flaming red, the engine and tender is of a dark brown color, relieved at places by the brown having a greenish tint given to it.

On the side of the cab is the name of the engine, C.P. Huntington, put on in gold leaf, and Mr. Wilson, the painter, has placed some very pretty designs directly underneath, with the words "Enterprise, 1863," and on the next panel, "Progress, 1875," intending to show the enterprise and indomitable energy that in 1863, began to work and fight its way onward, in spite of all the difficulties that obstructed its path, and now in the year of 1875, we can mark the extensive progress that has been made, and the great results that have been achieved in so short a time on this new line of road.

Taken altogether, it is a peculiar looking thing, blending as it does, in its own being, some of the crude ideas that prevailed at the time it was originally built, and also carrying with it some of the latest and best improvements that human skill and thought have been able to suggest in the engineering world. S.C.


A careful reading of early SP documentations shows that, despite later denials by Company officials, there was a clear distinction between the SP’s Northern Division and the parts of the SP managed by the Central Pacific and supported by that railroad’s great Sacramento Shops. There is no evidence that the two mechanical departments did not collaborate with one another. But at the end of the day, they represented two strands of history as distinct in spirit as the two cities in which they were based. The mechanical departments of the CP and SP did not loose their separate identities until the late 1880s or even later.

"Catechism of the Locomotive"

I hope someone out there can help me. I was recently given a copy of an old book titled "Catechism of the Locomotive" or "Catechism of Locomotives". The author listed on the spine is M. Forney.

All of the copyright information is apparently missing. Therefore I cannot find copyright date, publisher, or any other information regarding its origins. The preface of the book is intact and has the following address listed at the end of the preface; #73 Broadway NY,NY.

I would appreciate any information that I can get re this book.


Art Camburn

... there were many editions. Our copy is "Catechism of the Locomotive by Forney, Matthias N. The Railroad Gazette New York. 1883 Three folding plates before title page. 609 pgs. 20 pgs. of ads."

Matthias N. Forney's "Catechism of the Locomotive" was the premier text of the period, and went through several editions and numerous printings (with minor revisions) starting in 1874 and running through the 1890s. The earlier edition (copyright 1874) is slightly smaller - mine (published in 1875, 5th thousand) measures about 5 inches wide by 7 1/2 inches high. My revised and enlarged Second Edition (copyright 1887, forward dated 1889, spine labeled as the Revised 1890 Edition, mine published in 1891, 46th thousand) measures 6 inches wide by 8 1/2 inches high.

The preface for the earlier edition was from #73 Broadway, NY. The preface for the later edition was from #145 Broadway, NY. Sounds like you have a copy of the earlier edition, published sometime between 1874 and the late 1880s, reprinted with small modifications almost annually. It was published by the Railroad Gazette, of which Forney was editor. The Railroad Gazette's address (in both my editions) is #73 Broadway, NY.

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

CPRR Ah Henge & J.Millard

From: "Alisa Judd"

I am doing family history research about J. Millard who is noted as working with CPRR on payroll 102 for March, 1865. He is my great grandfather, Jerome Millard, born New York in 1832, but came from Lansing, Michigan, early 1850's via wagon train. I have the family lineage but nothing about the kind of person he was or the life he had as a Chinese interpreter for the courts or during his mining days in the Sierras (1854-1880). My grandmother mentioned several times that her father learned Chinese in the mines. He married a Doctor and they raised a family in San Francisco. He died in 1913. My grandmother kept a photo album with several pictures of his Chinese friends that was passed on to my cousin but nothing is labeled.

We know he had property in Georgetown, CA and Reno, NV in the 60's and 70's, both with buildings that were destroyed by fires. Advertisements with the local Reno newspaper from Feb 1871 to Dec 1874, show he was a Deputy Sheriff in Washoe County, and Collector. Also noted in the ad, "Of special attention given to Collections and Police Business from abroad." Starting in San Francisco, 1880 he is listed as an interpreter. The 1900 & 1910 census show him as a Court Interpreter which verifies what my grandmother told us about him and this is all we know.

The entry for the March, 1865, payroll is listed:

Ah Henge J.Millard 2621 1/4 3024.44 31.25 2993.15 Paid A.W. Pipan

Several questions come to mind I'm hoping you might be able to answer. The entry from the payroll makes a little sense to me. What does 2621 1/4 signify? Would you be able to tell what his position with the company was as listed in column 2? And also, who would be A.W. Pipan and was he paid by him or to him? I would be interested to know what happened to Ah Henge if possible. It might be that some of this group continued onto SF also.

After reading the information on-line, I suspect Ah Henge was the leader of a group of Chinese laborers. Would this be correct? And that Jerome would be the representative for CPRR and received the payroll for the Chinese from Pipan? Do you have any information in your records as to how long he worked with this group or how long this group worked for CPRR? Or what kind of work for the railroad that they were doing? Any information about this entry or their activities would be very helpful.

Would you know where to start looking for information about court interpreters for the Chinese in San Francisco between 1906-1913 as everything else was probably destroyed. Are you familiar with the phrase, "Of special attention given to Collections and Police Business from abroad," and what it might imply?

I suspect a trip to Railroad Museum Library would be a good idea for further research about this. I would like to present a fairly thorough sketch for the project my cousin and I have undertaken. This is such a fascinating subject that we would like as much information as possible in order to provide a fair representation of the events of his life. Getting the details of this straight is important so I don't confuse anyone should something ever be published. At this point we're just writing up family sketches.

Your assistance is kindly appreciated and any reading material you would suggest would be most welcome.

Thank you,

Alisa Judd

PS: Jerome's daughter, Mary Millard (my grandmother) married the son of a sea captain (Capt Charles F Hall) whose grandson was Charles Hall of Ames Research the manager of the Pioneer Projects with NASA.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Spike Question

From: "Thad Sheldon"

I have searched the internet to find out more information about a particular railroad spike that my father was given when we was young.  The two spikes are from a small section of railroad in/near Illinois that was built by prison workers.  He was told they we Mulehead spikes.  The started out as straight pieces of metal but after pounding, they became flat on top like a flat head or “Mulehead.”   I have seen pictures of a similar spikes at RR museum sites but none that are specific to that area or from the prison workers.  If you have ANY information on these spikes or could direct me to someone who could provide some further assistance, please let me know.  Thank you for your time.

Thad Sheldon

Re: Two Engines

From: "Wendell Huffman"

"Argenta" was the name assigned to one of the Schenectady locomotives ordered on 1 Feb 1869 by the CP and built for them, but then sold to other companies before being delivered to California. Then name was subsequently assigned to the old SVRR No.1 "Sacramento" when it was incorporated into the CP roster at No.166 by 1 March 1870. I do not know that it was a "dinkey", but it was a Hinckley (the way SP spelled it) – 14 x 20" cylinders, 48" drivers.


Betsy Baker 1867. Courtesy of Jim Wilke.
Oregon engine, the Betsy Baker, in 1867, see comment.
Courtesy of Jim Wilke.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Two Engines

From: "Larry Mullaly">

... In rereading my notes from my recent visit to Sacramento I have a much more main line question. The SP Assistant Superintendent's Journal for April 21 and April 1873 includes the following engine references:

April 21
Brought Eng. Dinkey from Pajaro to Gibson

Commenced plowing between San Jose and Gilroy Engine Argenta, En. Curan, Conductor Wait, working from San Jose South.

April 23 Engine Dinkey run from Gilroy to San Jose.

April 28
Plowing teams and outfit report could not get further south of Salinas than 4 miles with engines acct. weeds.

Special Plowing outfit of C&F Co. from Castroville to Gilroy.

Comments: These are my transcriptions of handwritten items, and I may not be reading "Dinkey" correctly. But the reference is clearly to a locomotive not an engineer. Can someone identify this engine?

Regarding the mention of the Argenta – the only time this engine is named in the 1873 Journal. Normally, I would interpret this as a leased CP engine, but Diebert and Strapac (Compendium, p. 43) indicated that the CP sold the Argenta in September, 1869.

The references to plowing, I interpret as efforts to keep brush down along the right-of-way and was probably a seasonal ritual. SP engines had caused several costly wheat-field fires the previous year in the San Jose area and the company was most likely trying to make sure this did not happen again. I mention this because of the remote possibility that the Argenta may have been part of the Contract & Finance "plowing outfit." Since both references appear in the same general context. On the other hand, the notion that C&F actually owned motive power of its own contradicts the standard construction company practice of leasing engines from the CP.

I am very certain that the Argenta is not on the SP roster. Beyond that I am in a quandary. ...

Larry Mullaly

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Re: Burned Up Engines

From: "Wendell Huffman"

My first thought also was a heated, or "burned" crownsheet; but I don't have any evidence of that. But, how was anyone to know? If one knew that if he wrote up "burned crownsheet" on the bitch sheet (if that is what they called it in those days) he would be fired, one might just keep mum. I mean, if it held long enough to hold pressure after getting some water back on it, why say anything about it. On the other hand, I don't think of anything else other than the literal: catching an engine on fire. And I don't see that as a common event.


Re: Burned Up Engines


I believe that's scorching a crownsheet for sustained lack of water over same. If the engine crew + head-end brakeman survive – that is, if the boiler doesn't blow up, then the hogger gets canned since he has the access to the waterpumps/injector and also the tri-cocks and is fully responsible for the well-being of the locomotive to whiuch he's assigned. Obviously a new firebox would typically be required and the cost would be heavy i terms of time and materials consumed to rectify the damage.  


Burned Up Engines


Last week I was reading a list of terminated CP/SP during the period 1878-1890 at the Sacramento City archives. Often the only reason given for firing an employee is listed as "for cause." But among the reasons that are given – and in several different instances – is that a locomotive engineer was terminated because he "burned up engine." Does anyone know how someone "burns up an engine"?

Larry Mullaly

Friday, March 18, 2005

Re: loco

From: "Wendell Huffman"

... the "Pioneer" was the SVRR's second No.1 – a name and number it first bore in November 1869. It had previously been the SVRR No.3 "C.K. Garrison"; and before that "Elephant". The No.4 was "L.L.Robinson."

Frankly, I've never been satisfied that the SVRR really numbered their locomotives in a formal sense. However, "Nevada" – the second locomotive to run on the road – did end up wearing a No.2 late in life, which suggests it had always been No.2, and an 1870 tax inventory identifies the engines by number rather than name. In any event, the 17 November 1855 [Sacramento] Democratic State Journal states: "Engine No.3, to be called the "C.K. Garrison," is now being put together ..." The "Robinson," which seems to have been No.4 all its life didn't show up for another year after "Garrison" was already on the road.

Speaking of the well-known photo of the "Pioneer", Dave Joslyn wrote to Guy Dunscomb on 10 October 1957: "The picture that we have of the engine was taken at Front and M streets in Sacramento in 1877, with Engineer Herman Hollsinger in cab window, Fireman Andy E. Brown in gangway of engine."


Re: loco

I'm sure the CSRM library has a copy of the classic view of the locomotive after its last rebuilding (1870?). You would need to contact the library directly.

... [A photo of the locomotive Pioneer] is on the San Francisco Public Library site. The description mentions the identification of X-116 on the back of the photos. A quick check of the Southern Pacific X-file listing shows the San Francisco photo came from the Southern Pacific - now held by the Union Pacific in Omaha or Council Bluffs. copies of the photo should also be available from there (if this one wasn't one of the ones pilfered before the collection left San Francisco). ... You can use it to identify the image you want.

As I recall, there was also a drawing of the locomotive done about 1857 or so (I think). I believe it was one of the margin drawings included with one of the bird's eye views of Sacramento. In the 1850s and early '60s on the Sac Valley it went by the name of C. K. Garrison - Pioneer was a later name after the railroad came under the control of the Central Pacific owners.

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

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



I'm trying to locate a quality picture of Sacramento Valley Rail Road's locomotive #4 Pioneer, originally called the Elephant.

Bill Anderson

large CPRR lithograph

From: "Quincy Williams"

... "Across The Continent." New York: H. Schile, ca. 1868. 17 3/4 x 24 1/4. Lithograph. Original hand color and black painted margins. ... Very rare.

A spectacular print glorifying the progress of "civilization" across the American continent. The print was produced by a New York printmaker, H. Schile, a competitor of Currier & Ives who supplied popular prints aimed mostly at the German immigrants so prevalent in New York in the late nineteenth century. Some of his prints were made in Germany, and much of his aesthetic was German in feel, but the subject matter was American, appealing to the immigrant's desire to embrace their new homeland. One of the most noticeable features of his prints was their black painted borders and bright hand color, setting off the primary images against a strong, dark background.

Schile obviously copied the idea and basic content for this print from Currier & Ives' print "Across the Continent." That image, representing America's western expansion, was drawn by Fanny Palmer in 1868 ... Schile took the content and concept of that print and modified it in interesting ways. Like the Currier & Ives print, this one shows a settlement consisting of log cabins, with a prominent "Public School," next to a river that flows down from majestic, snow-capped mountains. The citizens of the town have come out to greet a train steaming into town, in this print identified as belonging to the Central Pacific Railroad. The composition was completely changed, however, making it more dramatic in this print and adding some interesting features.

A copy of this print is in the Robert B. Honeyman Jr. Collection at the Bancroft Library, where it is suggested that scene may be intended to show the Humboldt River, with a thundering waterfall, though the scene could also be intended as a view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California or Nevada. The differences between this print and the Currier & Ives are quite interesting. In the latter men are shown clearing the wilderness, whereas here the men appear to be working on the railroad tracks, holding picks and shovels and with a pile of ties lined next to the track. In the Currier & Ives print, the civilization of the town is separated by the wilderness by the diagonal line of the rail line. In the Schile print, civilization is divided from the wilderness by the river, the train crossing the river to enter the town. In the Currier print, a pair of Indians are penned in by the train and the stream of its engine steam, but they sit passively looking on. In the Schile print, a larger group of Indians, including women and children, react in horror to the train, some stumbling or running away, while one of the horses rears back. Of interest is one of the women who is shown wearing a western-style, red dress. It is hard to tell, but perhaps her hands are bound together, adding a bit of further excitement by showing a Indian captive. While the Currier & Ives is a classic (included in the New Best 50), this print is as rare and fascinating, and really more dramatic. ...

Quincy Williams
The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd.
8441 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19118
(215) 242-4750

Across the Continent

Thursday, March 17, 2005

My Grandpah

From: "Jacqui D. Parkhurst"

I'm searching for a picture of my Grandfather who worked the CPRR in Truckee CA. Can you help??? His name is Vernon T. Parkhurst.


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Re: Travel time on the Valley road.

No, the general increase in speed is expected–perhaps in part due to heavier rail and air brakes.

That the Folsom mixed of 1901 was slower than 1895 may–in part–be due to seasonal freight. The passenger was a bit faster between those two years.

This one surprised me. I don't understand it and wonder if there was a misprint:
1895: Sacto to Rocklin: 55 min w/ 1 stop for the fast mail, yet 50 min w/4 stops Overland express. The data at hand just doesn't make sense.


Saturday, March 12, 2005

Re: Travel time on the Valley road.

About what I'd expect across the board...with the sole surprise (but logical questioning) over the quicker timecard in 1895...I would presume that, earlier,  there was a bit less express loading time, smaller tenders hence less need for water somewhere along the way – or rather, with larger tenders later on, the need for a few more min's to take H20 and a few more parcels in the Wells Fargo express car, or maybe a bit more US mail or both...and maybe a few more passengers later on, too.
Either way, the differences are not too great...

Travel time on the Valley road.

Per Lynn's suggestion, I'll offer a comparison between times Sacramento to Folsom on the SVRR/S&PRR and between Sacramento and Rocklin–both distances 22 miles.

S to F: 1 hr. 40 min on mixed train, 55 minutes on passenger.
S to R: 50 minutes on passenger train w/one stop, 57 minutes on train w/two stops.

S to F: 1 hr. 25 min mixed w/ 11 stops, 1 hr passenger w/11 stops
S to R: 55 min w/ 1 stop fast mail, 50 min w/4 stops Overland express.

An undated timetable reproduced in back of Gerry Best's "Iron Horses to Promontory" (which lists Mark Hopkins and E.B. Crocker as officers–so pretty early):
S to R: 2 hr 15 min on mixed, and 1 hr 5 min on express. Both of those are actually from departure in Sacramento to departure of train from Rocklin, so times actually should be one station-stop shorter.


Friday, March 11, 2005

Re: transcontinental vs pacific

The "Trans-Continental" was the title of the 1870 on-board newspaper "accounting of the first chartered railroad excursion from Atlantic to Pacific" by the Boston Board of Trade (Boston to San Francisco, May 23rd to July 1st, 1870).

Re: transcontinental vs pacific


From the Oxford English Dictionary -

1853 Harper's Mag. Feb. 550/2 A construct a trans-continental railroad.

earliest shown reference

" ... A more general theme of conversation, however, has been the proposal of a company, embracing the wealthiest of New York capitalists, to construct a trans-continental railroad from New York to San Francisco. Incorporated by the Legislature of New York, these gentlemen have proposed to Congress to complete the great enterprise within three years; requiring no territorial cessions from the General Government, beyond a mere right of way; and no pecuniary aid, save a loan of the public credit for thirty millions of dollars, to he guaranteed by the work itself. The total capital of the enterprise is placed at a hundred millions of dollars. As presenting a feasible plan for achieving a splendid undertaking, imperatively required by the national wants and wishes; and as relieving Government from participating in the hazards involved in all such schemes, the New York proposition has met with an eminently favorable reception, and if so shaped in its details as to conciliate the several less practicable plans, which ante-dated it, will no doubt be the one adopted."

Harper's New Monthly Magazine. Volume 6, Issue 34. Harper & Bros. 1853. New York. Monthly Record of Current Events: pp. 549-554 at page 550, column 2.
Courtesy Making of America, Cornell University Library.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Re: Travel time on the Valley road.

From: "Kevin Bunker"

Hmmm...I'm rather guessing here, but I would wager a buffalo nickle that the SVRR and later Espee trains seldom got over about 15 mph and made most stops en route. With local calls along the way, nearly 2 hours would easily be consumed. An hour and 45 would be just anout right.

My late dad used to complain about how long the McKeens took to cover the run from Folsom Jct. to Sacramento because their family dairy's milk and cream going down to Crystal Creamery could easily go bad if the run was too delayed.


Judah birthdate


California Counties maintained a Great Register of voters that furnished poll workers with a physical description of the voter–birth date, height, complexion, hair color, etc. I have searched the Calif. State Library for the Sacramento County Great Registers, however the Library has no records of such a document for Sacramento prior to 1873.  Thus, we still have no record of Theo. Judah's birth date. Further, the Pioneer File in California does not have a card for Mr. Judah; that document also would have furnished us a birth date. Judah was not in State during the period of the Census in 1860, nor did the City of Folsom maintain a Census of early settlers.  (Judah did serve on a Coroners Jury in 1858, his signature on that Folsom document does not show his age) Should anyone have an idea that would further this search, I'd be pleased to be the 'go-fer' for same.  Chris Graves

Re: Chinese on CP in 1865

Check out the 1865 CP report to Congress on Sacramento History Online.

Interesting presentation on Chinese labor. Kyle

Note my NEW address of

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


A large majority of the white laboring class on the Pacific Coast, find most profitable and congenial employment in mining and agricultural pursuits, than in railroad work. The greater portion of the laborers employed by us are Chinese, who constitute a large element of the population of California. Without them it would be impossible to complete the western portion of this great national enterprise, within the time required by the Acts of Congress.

As a class they are quiet, peaceable, patient, industrious and economical—ready and apt to learn all the different kinds of work required in railroad building. They soon become efficient as white laborers. More prudent and economical, they are contented with less wages. We find them organised into societies for mutual aid and assistance, These societies, that count their numbers by thousands, are conducted by shrewd, intelligent business men, who promptly advise their subordinates where employment can be found on the most favorable terms.

No system similar to slavery, serfdom or peonage prevails among these laborers, Their wages, which are always paid in coin, at the end of each month, are divided among them by their agents, who attend to their business, in proportion to the labor done by each person. These agents are generally American or Chinoee merchants, who furnish them their supplies of food, the value of which they deduct from their monthly pay. We have assurances from loading Chinese merchants, that under the just and liberal policy pursued by the Company, it will be able to procure during the next year, not less than 15,000 laborers. With this large force, the Company will be able to push on the work so as not only to complete it far within the time required by the Acts of Congress, but so as to meet the public impatience.

From: Central Pacific Railroad. Statement made to the President of the United States, and Secretary of the Interior of the Progress of the Work. Leland Stanford, Pres't C. P. R. R. Co. October 10th, 1865. Sacramento: H.S. Crocker & Co., Printers, 92 J Street.

Re: Transcontinental vs Pacific RR

I seem to recall a queston about when the term "transcontinental" came into use. Some of the early 1870s guidebooks were already using the term. Note for instance the map on Sacramento History on line [from Crofutt's Trans-Continental Tourists' Guide].

Kyle Note my NEW address of

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

Re: SP Line Operated by UP

Looking at a 1911 annual SP pass issued to an employee - a conductor (posted on Sacramento History on line) I note it is valid only on "lines between Ashland, Ore., Sparks, Nev., and Rio Grande River, N.M." SP-owned lines operated by UP subsidiaries (and SP Texas lines) are excluded. Also the pass was signed by E. E. Calvin, Vice President and General Manager. (Is this the same guy who was in Oregon earlier?)

It's also not good on suburban (commute) trains in the Bay Area.


Note my NEW address of

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

Travel time on the Valley road.

The trouble (in this regard) with the old timetables published in the newspaper is that they give only departure times, so we really don't know how long it took to go by train from Sacramento to Folsom. In several years of reading the old newspapers I was never able to answer that question.

However, 0n 13 December 1869, Huntington wrote Hopkins that trains should "never make the time between Sacramento and Folsom in less than two hours." Was he being serious? Well, maybe.

One does need to recognize that this was soon after a terrible accident on the Western Pacific, which Huntington blamed on SVRR superintendent Josiah Johnson (who was also at the time also superintendent of the WP). Huntington, and apparently the other CP directors who owned the SVRR, wanted Johnson fired, but Hopkins stood by him (as a Sacramento alderman, Johnson had played a trump card for the CP in their "war" against the SVRR in 1864). Hopkins won, and Johnson retained his post on the SVRR. It was at this juncture that Huntington wrote Hopkins regarding the speed of trains on the SVRR along with the comment that Johnson should never be allowed to run more than one train a day. One gets the sense that Huntington washed his hands of the SVRR at this point, and the comment may have been a bit factious (if not sarcastic), so it may not have been meant or taken as absolute instruction. Still, with various stops along the way, two hours may not be too far out of line for the 22.5 miles.

In the early years of the 20th century the old iron rail was replaced with steel, and it is likely that the McKeen cars covered the distance at a somewhat better clip. Even so, the editor of the Folsom newspaper did make the suggestion that cowcatchers be placed on the back ends of the McKeens to protect them from cattle overtaking the cars from behind.


Re: CP/SP Coal History


The extension of light rail service to Folsom from Sacramento will open to the public in October of this year. This will be four months shy of the 150th birthday of the Sacramento Valley Rail Road, the first in the west, on virtually the same right-of-way. The modern commuter trip is expected to take 40 minutes. How long was the 22 mile trip in 1856?

Bill Anderson

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Re: Lines "East of Sparks"

In 1910 the SPLA&SL was still jointly owned by UP and the Clark interests, so it may have been a more separate operating entity than the other UP properties (including SP). UP acquired the Clark interests and reorganized the company as the Los Angeles & Salt Lake (dropping the "San Pedro" part of the name) about 1920 (from memory). I suspect it would have been treated the same as the OSL after that.

In 1910 the UP was in the process of creating the Oregon-Washington Railroad & Navigation Co. The Oregon Railroad & Navigation Company was folded into this new company, but apparently that had not been completed at the time Larry's book was produced. (As I recall, Oregon Railway & Navigation became Oregon Railroad & Navigation as a result of the late 1890s Harriman reorganization when it emerged from receivership.)

It is interesting to note in all this that the transfers of SP properties was at the operating level, specifically not the ownership level. Thus SP owned properties operated by others are called out as still being SP properties. I assume this was through a lease, much as the Central Pacific had leased and operated the Southern Pacific - Southern Division in the 1870s and early 1880s (before creation of the Southern Pacific Company). Southern Pacific - Northern Division continued to be operated by its own company.


Note my NEW address of

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

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Re: Lines "East of Sparks"

From: "Larry Mullaly"


Thank you for the clarification. Apparently the "Calvin lines" did not include Sparks east. For what it is worth, my chart showing a circa 1910 snapshot of Harriman lines shows the following operating units:

"Operating Organization of the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific Systems"

"Oregon and Washington Railroad Under Construction"

"Union Pacific Railroad 3098 miles"

"Oregon Short Line and Southern Pacific Lines East of Sparks Nevada 2472 miles"

"Oregon R & Navigation Company and Southern Pacific Co. North of Ashland 1903 miles"

"Southern Pacific Company Lines Between Sparks Nevada, Ashland Oregon and Rio Grande New Mexico 4433 - 248 (?) miles

"Separately Operated Lines in Louisiana 565 miles"

"Separately Operated Lines in Arizona and New Mexico 847 miles"

"Atlantic Coast Steamship Line 4400 miles of water lines"

Differing from Kyle's list is the absence of the SP, LA & SL. Looking through Signor's history of the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad Company, I see no compelling reason why this line would not have been treated as a separate operating unit of the "Harriman lines" in 1910.


Re: Lines "East of Sparks"

Union Pacific had several operating entities in the Harriman era. I believe they can briefly be described as follows:

Union Pacific RR (east from Ogden)
Oregon Short Line (north and west from Ogden - to the Oregon border)
Oregon Ry & Navigation (in Oregon and Washington)
San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake (south from Ogden - under OSL during early construction)
(Plus others not relevant here)

It was actually through OSL that Harriman purchased the controlling interest of Southern Pacific Company stock.

Sounds like Harriman put operating control of several parts of SP under nearby UP affiliates. Calvin sounds like the OR&N man. I'm guessing someone else had OSL.

Knowing that OSL operated the SP in Nevada, it makes more sense that OSL built the line down from Idaho during these years. I suspect it became sort of an orphan after SP and UP were separated.


Note my NEW address of

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

Lines "East of Sparks"

From: "Larry Mullaly"

I found some additional information about the redesign of the Harriman lines in Oregon and Utah.

"Ashland Tidings, March 31, 1904.
The change in the office of general manager of the Southern Pacific lines in Oregon, whereby R. Koehler retired and EE Calvin becomes his successor, will go into effect tomorrow, April 1st as will be noted in the following circular which has been posted in the local [Ashland] dispatcher’s office: ‘Effective this date, all officers and employees of the lines in Oregon, north of Ashland, will report to Mr. E. E. Calvin, general manger of the Oregon Railroad & Navigation Company, at Portland. Signed J. Kruttschnitt.’ ….EE Calvin, who tomorrow assumed the general management of the O.R. & N. , including the SP lines in Oregon started in as a railroad official on the Oregon Short Line in Idaho, when it was a part of the Union Pacific system, before its segregation as an independent road."

On April 4, Calvin was reported in the Ashland Tidings as having stated:
"Mr. Koehler will retain his position as general manager of the Southern Pacific and will have the same authority as he ahs had in the past. The only difference is he will report to headquarters through my office instead of through the office at San Francisco."

Dale Darney’s quote seems to represent a second phase of the restructuring the Oregon/Idaho/Utah portion of the Harriman system. This operating unit became popularly known as the "Calvin Lines." To repeat Dale’s quote:

"SEPTEMBER 2 1905 Sparks Dispatch
Yesterday the Southern Pacific line from Sparks eastward and all the lines of the Nevada & California, formerly the C.& C. Passed under the control of the Oregon Short Line to the officials of which the employees of the roads affected by J. G. Stubbs, traffic manager of the Harriman system."

The 1905 change at some point was joined with the other lines in Oregon. A 1910 book in my possession, "Railroad Administration" by Ray Morris. This contains an organizational chart (p. 56) showing the "Oregon Short Line and Southern Pacific Lines East of Sparks 2472 miles" as under the direction of a single Vice President and General Manager (EE Calvin, I assume).


correct history

From: "Lynn Farrar"

... places which have or had pertinent material on CP/SP lines (not in order):

CSRM Sacramento, CA
Huntington Library San Marino, CA
Bancroft Library Berkeley, CA
Stanford Business Library Palo Alto, CA mostly for lines west of El Paso
Syracuse Library Syracuse, NY CPH mss
Mariner's Museum Newport News, VA Letters to C.P. Huntington
Nevada Historical Society Reno, NV
Oregon Historical Society Portland, OR
(Pacific Electric Group) Riverside County, CA somewhere - address not known by me
Degolyer Library Ft. Worth/Dallas area for lines east of El Paso
John R. Signor Dunsmuir, CA (author, etc)
National Archives formerly Suitland, MD, now west of there ICC records of 1913 valuations

Best I can do for now. Lynn

[Links added.]

RE: CP/SP Coal History

It's also important to remember that CP was burning coal in furnaces other than locomotive fireboxes...there would be foundry hearths, ferry boats' boilers, stoves galore in coaches, dining car galleys, depots, offices, cabooses...this surely would affect the total report on such a large railroad and industry. Were they also including subsidiaries in that report, or were those separately recorded?

There are two reasons for believing that the figures represent locomotive fuel only: 1) The table is titled "Statement exhibiting fuel for locomotive fuel . . ." and 2) there are railroads listed which list no coal, which–as you point out–must have used coal in non locomotive applications.

It is not clear just what is included under any railroad's name; however, I take it to mean system wide. In many other of the tables Central Pacific's own line is distinguished from leased lines (Amador Brnch, Berkeley Branch, California Pacific, LA and Independence, La and San Diego, Northern Ry, Stockton & Copperopolis, San Pablo and Tulare, and Southern Pacific of Arizona) and controlled line (Sacramento & Placerville). Southern Pacific RR Co is given its own entry. So, whoever was putting this together certainly knew there were a number of parts that went into the CP. Now under fuel, there is a different entry for SP of Arizona, but I don't have an entry for SP itself. These tables are divided geographically and at the time I was making copies I was interested primarily in the Sacramento & Placerville so simply did not copy everything.

This document–often called the 1880 Railroad census–is readily available in federal publican libraries. It tells you what material they used for ties and fences, rail, etc, mileage, number of employees; in short just about everything you might want to know (no rosters, just totals) except for the color of their equipment!


Monday, March 07, 2005

Oregon Short Lines

From: "Dale Darney"

Oregon Short Lines This change affected the relations of the people in sparks with the V.& T. and not for the better. THE SP people in Sacramento maintained good relations as always. I am not sure when this ended may have been with the end of the N&C? dale

SEPTEMBER 2 1905 Sparks Dispatch

Yesterday the Southern Pacific line from Sparks eastward and all the lines of the Nevada & California, formerly the C.& C. Passed under the control of the Oregon Short Line to the officials of which the employees of the roads affected by J. G. Stubbs, traffic manager of the Harrinan system.

Dale Darney

Fwd: CP/SP Coal History

I received the attached from Bob Pecotich. thought I'd share it.


Note my NEW address of

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

Somewhere in my research on Sacramento shops, oil firing experiments for stationary boilers by Stevens, etc. I came across a factoid which discussed that there was no uniformity of converting from wood to coal to oil fuel on the Pacific lines. Seems that the general rule was that the cheapest fuel for the area was used. Coal stayed in use on the Salt lake division because of the local cheap supply from Carbon county. Wood was used for fuel as I hazily recall up until 1910 or so on the Oregon lines, even later in remote areas, becauuse of the abundant local supply. Seems logical that the Shasta division locos would be woodies circa 1901.

Bob Pecotich

Re: CP/SP Coal History

From: "Kevin Bunker"

It's also important to remember that CP was burning coal in furnaces other than locomotive fireboxes...there would be foundry hearths, ferry boats' boilers, stoves galore in coaches, dining car galleys, depots, offices, cabooses...this surely would affect the total report on such a large railroad and industry. Were they also including subsidiaries in that report, or were those separately recorded?  


Re: CP/SP Coal History

From: "Kevin Bunker"

I've known about that bit of history, but now I wonder to what extent Harriman standard (and pre-Harriman) OSL [Oregon Short Line Railroad] motive power made it onto the CP from Sparks east and vice versa.


Re: CP/SP Coal History

Note to the side - for many of the Harriman years (but not all of them) the SP line east of Sparks (all the way to Ogden) was leased to Oregon Short Line for operation. I never have tied down the exact dates of that - but the first depot built in (the new town of) Sparks was of UP standard design, not SP standard, suggesting it was in effect at the time Sparks was established.


Note my NEW address of

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

"Wendell Huffman"

I told Larry the other night I bet the CP/SP would have electrified had it not been for on-line oil. I do wonder how the CP/SP's fuel costs changed during the Harriman period when (presumably) they had better access to UP coal fields.


Re: CP/SP Coal History

There is a photo (actually a series of photos) of a wreck on the Shasta Division that I've dated to 1901. Photos have been published in several books, although generally with incorrect dates. The wreck involved two 4-8-0s and a 4-6-0, including 4-8-0 #2800, and is likely the reason for the Aug 1901 rebuilding. Of interest here, all of the locomotives in the photos are wood burners.

Photos came about because a Carmel photographer happened to be on the train. (there is even a photo of the train before the wreck).


Note my NEW address of

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

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Re: CP/SP Coal History

FWIW, I just looked in the 1880 "report on the agencies of transportation in the United States" under the category of fuel usage. CP reported using 231,000 tons of coal during the year ending 30 June 1880, at $7 per ton. Of the railroads included, only the Nevada Central (at $12) and the SP Arizona (at $8.26) paid more. The Galveston, Houston & Henderson paid $6.48. Several roads were paying less than $2 per ton. AT&SF was paying $1.85 (think about that one in the light of the fare war). At the same time the CP reported using 70,000 cords of pine–at $4.75 per cord. It would be interesting to know the relative amount of steam that could be raised by a ton of coal vs. a cord of pine. Sacramento & Placerville was reporting the use of oak only–at $4.25 per cord. Eureka & Palisade was paying $5.59 per cord and the Nevada Central was paying $7 per cord (both from line of road). The Longview & Sabine Valley was paying $1.10 per cord.

It would take some doings, but one could compare the cost of fuel per mile of road, or per locomotive, or even by ton of freight hauled by running the numbers in this report.

I told Larry the other night I bet the CP/SP would have electrified had it not been for on-line oil. I do wonder how the CP/SP's fuel costs changed during the Harriman period when (presumably) they had better access to UP coal fields.


New Book of UPRR Letters


We have just finished editing the first volume (600 plus pages) of letters of an Omaha man covering the years 1866-1868. Volume 2 1869-1871 should be out by the end of the year. A lot of interesting stuff on the Union Pacific side, good but not necessarily flattering comments about Dodge, Durant and the viewed corruption by the builders of the roads. Lots of good discussion about the bridge at Omaha, shops construction, that sort of thing.

Barry Combs former PR director of UP and author of Westward to Promontory is on the team. We found it fascinating just preparing it.

... You can order it from The Bookworm in Omaha. 402-392-2877. ...

I think you might enjoy it.


Their Man in Omaha, The Barker Letters, Volume 1, 1860-1868. Editors Don Snoddy, Barry Combs, Bob Marks, Del Weber. Published by the Douglas County Historical Society. ISBN 1-930644-07-8.

"This 700-page volume consists of a series of letters and correspondence between immigrant Joseph Barker and his family in England during the 1860s. Compiled and edited by Dr. Del Weber, Barry Combs and Don Snoddy, Their Man in Omaha is available for the pre-publication price of $39.95 plus tax for [Douglas County] Historical Society members. Regular price is $49.95."

Excerpt available.

National Archives

From: "Randall Hees"

I will be in Washington DC / Maryland in a week or so. While I have my own research plate pretty full if someone has something specific that they need from the National Archives at College Park, or at the Library of Congress, I will see if I can find it.

One of my goals is a romp through the Lincoln papers looking for various letters lobbying for the Pacific Railroad, particularly for track gauge.


[Links added.]

CP/SP Coal History

I have been working on the topic of SP's coal to oil conversion for some time. In an early draft of material for a still to be published an article for SP Trainline (this portion new considerably reduced in length), I assembled quite a bit of information information that I give below. My footnotes have been inserted within brackets. Some of this information may have been corrected by our ongoing CP discussion, but by and large it is fairly accurate.

CP/SP Coal History to 1900

In the 1860s, the sight of locomotive tenders piled high with cordwood was commonplace along the lines of the Central Pacific Railroad. Wood fuel was inexpensive and easily harvested from Sierra Nevada railroad lands. But as the railroad built across the Nevada and Utah deserts, reliance on wood fuel became increasingly problematic, and by January 1870 a large-scale conversion of many of its engines from wood to coal was underway. Within two years, virtually all locomotives operating on the 554 miles of track between Wadsworth, Nevada and Ogden, Utah had been changed to coal burning with fuel supplied by the CP affiliate, the Rocky Mountain Coal and Iron Company near Evanston, Wyoming. [San Francisco Daily Alta California, January 6 1870. Correspondence, AN Towne to CP Huntington, August 13, 1873.]

A similar transformation took place on the Pacific slope where by the mid 1870's all Central Pacific lines and its subsidiaries, with the exception of the overland route from Sacramento to Wadsworth, and the CP's Sacramento to Redding line were either fully changed over to coal burning, or in the process of conversion. The changeover from wood to coal fuel over the Sierras did not begin until late 1886, and wood continued in use into the 1890's at least in the Sacramento area. [Report to the Department of the Interior, October 29, 1870; Report of AN Towne to CP Huntington, August 8, 1873. Sacramento Division, 1883 plat maps (CSRM). San Francisco Morning Call, September 15, 1886; January 11, 1887 (John Sweetser research). Sacramento to Redding does not appear to have been converted from wood to coal until 1883. Plat maps showing installation of coal bunkers, CSRM.]

Throughout this period, access to quality coal on the Pacific Coast remained a problem. Northern California lines were able to obtain some local coal from the flank of Mt. Diablo near the San Francisco Bay, and a mine in the Ione Valley, 30 miles southeast of Sacramento. Limited fuel supplies were also available from Coos Bay, Oregon. Unfortunately, this coal was poor-burning lignite, and as SP Vice-President CP Huntington noted in 1877, "the engineers and firemen are all against it." [CP Huntington to D Colton correspondence, December 17, 1877.] As a result, much of the coal used by the railroad as late as the 1890s was imported from Wales and Australia. [Dunscomb and Dunscomb, II, p. 168.] The railroad however periodically resorted to lignite or to a mix of lignite and bituminous coal to prevent coal shippers from raising market rates. "While the coal is not as good as we would like it, we are able to protect ourselves against high prices," CP President Leland Stanford explained. ["A great deal of the coal consumed` is foreign coal," CP President Leland Stanford acknowledged in 1887. US Pacific Railway Commission, p. 2794.]

Significant portions of other Big Four routes were designed as coal burning from their inception. Among these was the SP's mainline south from Goshen in the San Joaquin Valley, and through Southern California during the 1870s on which all engines were coal-fired. By 1878 eleven coaling stations were in operation between Tulare and Yuma. [US Railroad Commissioner reports]. Similar fueling sites were established as the line was built across Arizona and New Mexico.

The search for a secure supply of good coal continued to occupy SP managers through the next two decades. In 1888, the Southern Pacific extended a branch line in the San Joaquin Valley from Huron to Alcalde to access coal that unfortunately proved low in thermal energy and easily ignited when stored. A year later, coal purchased from Mexican mines to fuel locomotives on the Tucson Division proved similarly unsatisfactory. "Almost every freight train, ever since we began using this coal, has been more or less delayed," complained SP General Superintendent JW Fillmore. [JW Fillmore to HJ Small (SP Superintendent of Motive Power) correspondence, Feb. 28, 1899. Stanford University Special Collections, M317, Box 1, Folder 2.] By the early 1890s, the railroad was taking delivery of coal from SP-owned mines at Carbonado in Washington's Puget Sound area, and from Namaino and Comox in British Columbia. In 1893, the coal sources for the SP's operations out of Los Angeles were Australia and the state of Washington. [Railroad Gazette, September 22, 1893, p. 701]. During a twelve-month period beginning July 1, 1895 over 128,000 tons of coal was delivered to Port Los Angles near Santa Monica. The fuel was destined for SP engines from Mojave as far to the east as Gila Bend, Arizona. Beyond this point fuel was provided from Deming, New Mexico and sources east of El Paso. ["Cost of Coal`Pacific System, Port of Los Angeles to El Paso, April 1, 1897." Maintenance of Way document #110B, Southern Pacific Engineering Collection, Oregon Historical Society. ] By the early 1900s, coal from Utah fueled operations on the Salt Lake and Sacramento Divisions. [Ashland Tidings, November 15, 1900.]

Closing Note: The transition from coal to oil was primarily driven by market prices and prospects of secure long-term reserves. Although the SP burned oil in some of its locomotives beginning in 1895, it was a least five years till they seriously began converting to oil, with the lines through Nevada and Utah among the last to be converted. Even after the changeover began, coal remained in use far longer than is often realized.


Judah's birthdate

From: "Wendell Huffman"

In response to a question from Kyle, I share this with all. It was published in Railroad History some time back in the '90s. Bracketed comments are current.

Theodore D. Judah's Birth Date

History "carved in stone" may not always be correct. The mortal remains of Theodore D. Judah–promoter and first chief engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad–lie buried beneath a large tombstone at St. James Episcopal Church at Greenfield, Massachusetts. On the side of the stone is carved the inscription: "Born March 4, 1826, Died November 2, 1863."

The first hint that something might be wrong with this widely accepted birth date came from an examination of Judah's enrollment record at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, from which school he was reported to have graduated. In fact, Judah appears only to have attended Rensselaer during the summer term of 1838, and his birth date was recorded as March 4, 1825–one year earlier than that inscribed on his tombstone. This Rensselaer register is the only known record of Judah's birth date created during his lifetime.

The mystery was seemingly complicated by the 1850 census which records Judah as a twenty-six year old civil engineer of Seneca Falls, New York. As this enumeration was made in October 1850 this age suggests a birth date in 1824. However, this record may only mean that Judah was closer to his twenty-sixth birthday than his twenty-fifth at the time of the census (we know neither how the age question was framed or interpreted [nor do we know who answered]).

Further research led to the baptismal records of St. John's Episcopal Church, Bridgeport, Connecticut, where Judah's father Henry R. Judah was rector at the time of his son's birth. This document records the baptism of "Theodore son of H. R. Judah" in September 1825 (no day given). As this date is six months too early for the 1826 date carved on his tombstone, it strongly suggests that the March 4, 1825 date Judah himself [apparently] gave upon enrollment at Rensselaer is the correct birth date.

[The actual document consulted is a handwritten copy made some time after the fact. I did subsequently locate what is supposed to be the original, but the archivist who examined the document for me was unable to find any baptism record for Theodore–on this date or any other. For what it's worth, one Pierce genealogist examined the same material I looked at and came to the conclusion that the Theodore baptized in September 1825 was an older brother who died, and after whom our Theodore was named–though he had no record for any other Theodore's birth or baptism. And, also for what it's worth, Norman Tutorow elected to stick with the traditional birthdate dispite everything you read here.]

Making Judah one year older than previously accepted hardly changes our perception that he accomplished much as a young man. However, this revision portrays Judah as closer to the ages of his associates than is often held, as it makes him just one year younger than Central Pacific president Leland Stanford.

[Another comment: Judah was very sloppy with dates. Soon after (or in preparation for) the dispute between himself and C.P. Huntington of summer 1863, Judah prepared an inventory of the various things he had done on behalf of the Central Pacific Railroad. In it, he was off by one year from the actual events. So, it is left to you to conclude whether Judah was sloppy with his birthdate at Rensselaer in 1838 and at Seneca Falls in 1850, or in what he told Anna at various times in their relationship. I was never able to determine whether the date was actually carved on Judah's grave marker during Anna's lifetime, or whether that was added after she died–but I imagine it was done by her.

[The Sacramento Union of 28 March 1855 records that Judah was showing off a "handsome ring" which was inscribed "Sac. Valley Railroad, March 4th, 1855, first gold ever taken from earth used in making a Railroad bank." No comment was made by the paper on the significance of that date, but the 4th of March was probably indeed Judah's birth anniversary. I believe the ring was his present on his 30th birthday–perhaps from Anna. The gold in the ring was worth $5 1855 dollars, and it was taken from eight cubic yards of earth one mile east of Alder Springs–about three miles west of the Folsom station.]

Saturday, March 05, 2005

"The Great West Illustrated" by A.J. Russell, 1869.

Re: Wood to Coal Chronology

From: "Randall Hees"

As best I can tell while the WP locos were used anywhere before 1869, once the line opened they were mostly returned to the Sacramento to Oakland run. News reports of the many accidents and other problems on the [Western Pacific Railroad] generally call out engine names, and there the WP engines show up frequently (as does the CP Huntington)

The generally accepted story is that 8 of the 10 WP locos were still in the crate when the CP took over the line. At the time the summit tunnel was delaying eastward progress, and at least one of the WP locos was sent in pieces over the hill to opereate on the disconnected track along the Truckee River.

Industry is the odd duck as it is renumbered 25 to replace a lost CP loco while the others get numbers in the 160's and 170's when folded into the CP

Randy Hees

Re: Wood to Coal Chronology

As Kyle points out, the location where locomotives were used was primarily a function of where the CP was directing their effort at any particular time. And, as Randy points out, the WP locomotives were needed on the CP building east.

In mid 1867 when the CP took final possession of the WP, the CP line reached only to Cisco from Sacramento, and they had only 19 locomotives. The 10 locomotives they acquired with the [Western Pacific Railroad] were of immediate use in construction and operation of the CP. One WP locomotive–"San Mateo"–was hauled in July 1867–in its unassembled kit form–from Cisco to Truckee in wagons to aid in tracklaying on that isolated stretch of 20 miles build from Truckee to the state line. Two other locomotives (never identified to my satisfaction, but I suspect "Huntington" and "Judah") were dragged assembled on sleds across the snow in the winter of 1867-68 to aid in the effort to extend track beyond the stateline in the spring. In May or June of 1868 the isolated track east of Truckee was connected with the rest of the CP, and any locomotive at their disposal was driven to where it was needed.

Meanwhile, and until Promontory was finally settled as the metting point with the UP, the WP was a mere side show. Work on construction south from Brighton began in October 1868, but that line was not opened even to the Cosumnes River until the following March. Then, after the completion of the transcontinental line, work–and locomotives–were shifted to the WP. It was in service to Stockton from Sacramento in August 1869, and connected through to the Bay in September.

In January 1869, when "Industry" is reported burning coal, the CP possessed roughly 100 locomotives, including the WP engines. "Industry" was doubtless one of the WP locomotives operating on the CP during the construction period of 1868-early 1869. Furthermore, during the last half of 1868–as the railhead was pushed farther and farther east, the company was dealing with the issue of fuel, as every stick of firewood burned east of Verdi had to be hauled to fueling stations out in the desert. No doubt the issues were discussed frequently, and the newspaper notes posted by Dale reflect the growing interest–no, lust–for coal.


Re: Wood to Coal Chronology


I believe CP assigned engines wherever they needed them - perhaps much like the SP and Cotton Belt diesel locomotives were assigned system-wide in the 1970s and later. WP engines were "in the pool", I suspect.

I note a typo in your summary - the Industry burned coal in January 1869 (not 68), per Dales news articles.


Note my NEW address of

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

RE: coal

And, it sounds like the Industry may have been operating east of Donner at the time.


Note my NEW address of

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

Question: 1852 Travel between Army Forts


How did the Calvary/Army travel between Fort Columbus on Governors Island New York Harbor and St. Louis Missouri in 1852?  I have been told that most went by train....but than read it was cheaper and faster to send the Calvary (for the Indian Wars) by chartering space on US Naval Ships to Fort Lugo, Texas. If the foot soliders did their training at Jefferson Barrack in St. Louis wouldn't they have gone by train? 

Thank you 

S. Lee 

Friday, March 04, 2005

Wood to Coal Chronology


I am trying to understand why the Western Pacific "Industry" was operating between Verdi/Crystal Springs and Reno in January 1869 as Dale Darney recently reported. I have garnered the following sequence of events from mostly secondary sources:

Gerald Best notes that eight Western Pacific engines (including, we assume, the “Industry”) were shipped to Sacramento in "Winter 1867" and "in January 1868 were reported stored in the dead-line at Sacramento." (Iron Horses to Promontory, p. 175)

David Bain (Empire Express, p. 362) indicates, that the first engine shipped over the Sierra's by ox sled in July 1867 was a Western Pacific, suggesting that at least one of the 8 WP engines had been transported to Sacramento earlier than "Winter 1867."

Regular traffic did not begin over the Sierras until June 15, 1867 and one or more of the WP engines were apparently pressed into service on this route. It is in this context that we learn that the WP "Industry," running between Truckee and Reno, was reported in January 1868 as burning Crystal Peak coal.

There is now a break in the story. On September 6, 1869 the first Central Pacific train traveling mostly over Western Pacific tracks reaches the San Francisco Bay at Alameda. Assumedly, conversion to coal was underway at this time or soon thereafter.

By the beginning of 1870 all the locomotives of the Western Pacific are reported by AN Towne as burning (Corral Hollow/Mt. Diablo) coal. He also reports that the CP has initiated coal burning with a switch engine at Ogden and is about to convert to passenger engines.

We do not seem to have any confirmation that the "Industry" was among the engines running between Stockton and Oakland, however. For all we know it may still have been operating on the Sierra route.

In 1870 we have a report that the Industry has been sent east to work in a coal burning capacity between Toano and Promontory. (I can't recall where this information comes from.)

Based on Dale's most recent information, I concur [with Wendell] that the above chronology is consistent with the Joslyn report that the "Industry" was a first engine for coal burning, if not "in the west" at least on the Central Pacific.

Larry Mullaly

RE: coal

Dale, those are interesting pieces. If my recollection for the previous discussion is correct, that gives "Industry" a load of coal earlier than we've previously noted–tending to confirm Joslyn's statement that it was the CP's first coal burner.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Question: 1852 Travel between Army Forts


How did the Calvary/Army travel between Fort Columbus on Governors Island New York Harbor and St. Louis Missouri in 1852? I have been told that most went by train....but than read it was cheaper and faster to send the Calvary (for the Indian Wars) by chartering space on US Naval Ships to Fort Lugo, Texas. If the foot soliders did their training at Jefferson Barrack in St. Louis wouldn't they have gone by train?

Thank you

S. Lee

Re: Misinformation - screw spikes

It is true, as claimed by an eBay dealer that: CPRR iron "spikes were laid in the 19th century, most were quietly pulled out and recycled for the war effort in 1916-1917. (They were replaced with screws, which required less metal. The heads of the screws were then hammered over to prevent theft. Spike hunters were required to turn in their collections and were melted down. Possession laws remained on the books until 1925.)"? None of this sounds right.
From: "chris graves"

Whoa! The original spikes were wrought iron, and were pulled up when steel was laid. Remember too that ties didn't last long.........In all my wanderings, I have never seen a screw spike. Never.


SP tried out screw spikes but I don't remember the time period.  It was a good try but way too expensive to install.  They were never used during my tenure and I don't remember any being inventoried by the ICC parties for the 1913 valuation.  I think on SP they would have been tried at the end of the 19th century.
Cheers - Lynn Farrar

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Crystal Peak coal. "INDUSTRY"

JANUARY 2 1869

Coal at Argenta.

We have seen some specimens of coal discovered near Argenta, on the line of the railroad, one hundred and seventy miles east of Reno. It looks like real coal, burns like real coal, and experts believe it is real coal. The strata as yet discovered is but about eighteen inches wide, but the discoverers are greatly rejoiced, and the railroad stockholders are in extacies. Alexander Wightman, of the Pacific Western Express Company, kept his stove red hot with coal all day Thursday, and five tons were to have been shipped yesterday to Sacramento to be tried on a locomotive. If the lead is real and permanent it will be a treasure beyond price to the desert where it exists.

January 30 1869

Crystal Peak Coal

Docter Harrison, of Crystal Peak, has revived his coal mine; neighbor Borowsky has, we think, an interest in the mine, he brought us a piece of coal a few days since which he took from the mine himself. We tried a part of it in our stove, it burned nicely.

The locomotive "Industry" gave it a trial lately, and the engineer in charge pronounced it superior to the pine wood of Crystal Peak for steam making purposes. Borowsky informs us that where they are working in the tunnel, the tunnel is surrounded on all sides by coal, and they do not know the extent of the vain. A richer quality of coal is beginning to appear in the tunnel and all those interested in the mine wear a "eureka" expression on their continence. May there smiles broaden, may they each enabled to keep a coal yard if they want to, may they deal so righteously on earth that no cinders will adhere to them beyond, and may they be finally dumped in Paradise.

FEBRUARY 20 1869

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

Dale Darney

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

CPRR Discussion Group