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