Saturday, March 05, 2005

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.