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.