Thursday, June 30, 2005

Question: Jane Clement

From: "Diana Wenninger"

I'm wondering if you can tell me about "Jane Clement" who is reported to be a great niece of Leland Stanford. Is she related to [Lewis Metzler Clement]? I am researching a home in Redwood City and have come across her name as a former owner. ...

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Question: Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Road

From: "Edward L Hodges"

Hello to CPRR Researchers — I am Ed Hodges, a retired teacher from San Jose, who is searching for documents related to the construction of the Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Road. My current research is focused on two aspects of the old road. The newspaper and book reference (High Road to Promontory) that I have found, indicate that minor construction was begun in 1862, with Dr. Strong of Dutch Flat in charge. Then in October of ' 63, Strong was removed from his job — apparently by Charles Crocker, and Robert H. Pratt became director of construction. According to George Kraus's book, it was under Pratt's direction that the wagon road was completed to Verdi/Crystal Peak in June of 1864. The trouble with Kraus's statement is that it is not backed up with a reference. I have not been able to find any newspaper clipping referring to this significant job assignment. I am searching for Charles Crocker's papers — the ones that connect him to the DFDLWR — but the only thing I have found so far is a one page document at the Stanford Green Library — it was dated June 1864, singed by C. Crocker, President of DFDLWR Co. What I want to find is hard evidence connecting Mr. Pratt to the wagon road in 1863. Thanks to Mr. Strobridge who sent me a copy of Robert H. Pratt's testimony in the 1915 Southern Pacific-Central Pacific Railroad "Unmerger Case," I found out that Pratt was officially hired onto the CPRR in March 1865. I believe that Pratt had been hired two years earlier to finish the wagon road as an employee of the DFDLWR Company (as stated by Kraus). I would like to find documentation to support Mr. Kraus's claim.

My second topic is the question of how much road construction was done by the DFDLWR in the Dog Valley area. I have a newspaper clipping from the Sacramento Union dated July 11, 1864 (p3/c4) that clearly gives credit to the DFDLWR for making the improvements in the old Henness Pass Turnpike Road. Unfortunately, the article ends its description of road improvements at the top of Dog Hill, First Summit. I would like to know if the dirt road we see there today following the creek to Verdi was built by the DFDLWR Company or by the earlier Henness Pass/Truckee Turnpike Company.

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Ben Halliday

From: "Larry Mullaly"

I have a passenger car question. The SP Assistant Superintendent's Journal for March 16, 1873 contains the entry:

Excursion engine No. 4 [Comanche] with one coach, the Ben Halliday, a wedding party to San Jose.

My interpretation is that SP No. 4, Comanche, was hired out to bring a one car train from San Francisco to San Jose. Can anyone provide additional information about this car? ...

Larry Mullaly

Friday, June 24, 2005

Question: Detroit Publishing Company

We have a frame mounted photo of Mt. Shasta. There is a plaque on the front that states: Mt. Shasta 14,380 feet on Road of a Thousand Wonders Southern Pacific. copyright 1900, Detroit Photography. It is is about 40" x 18" in size. Anything you can tell us about the photo would be appreciated. It has been in the family for many years.

Thank you so much.

Erma Olsen

Thursday, June 23, 2005

"Bloomer Cut"

What is the origin of the name "Bloomer Cut"?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Railroad survey question


I am working on a project that will map the presettlement vegetation in Northern Utah. I am interested in looking at the rail road surveys for the Golden Spike area. I have been able to locate the initial surveys that explored for a route, but I am interested in viewing the surveys that were done once the line had been selected. Do you know were those surveys would be located for Utah. Thanks,

Greg Wolfgang
Master of Landscape Architecture Candidate
Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Sunday, June 19, 2005

SP 19th Century Roundhouses

For reference it's probably worthwhile citing 19th century CP/SP roundhouse photos that have been published.

First the message that got me thinking of published views:

In a message dated 6/19/2005 3:25:04 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, writes:
Los Angles roundhouse on pg. 15 of "The Southern Pacific in Los Angeles" there is an interruption in the tracks due to what is apparently a little park to the right of the roundhouse. This park can also be seen in the photo of the LA roundhouse on the bottom of pg. 50 of Signor's Tehachapi book (a photo possibly taken in the 1880s).
[I'd place it in the 1890s, based on the general style and appearance of the locomotives. —KKW]

Signor's Tehachapi book also includes:
Pg 24 – identified as Sumner (Bakersfield) – either a 9 or 10 stall wood roundhouse – note small trees planted. Also I think the loco closest to the roundhouse is El Gobernador.
Pg 25 shows the turntable – but can't tell if it is a Sellers cast iron table or not (my guess it that it is).
Pg 46 shows a very work SP 9 stall wooden roundhouse at Mojave.
Pg 66 shows Bakersfield shops and back side of roundhouse – turn of the century at a guess. Note brick building in middle.

In Signor's Beaumont Hill:
Pg 16 – Colton – 3-stall structure
Pg 35 – Beaumont – 3-stall structure, no turntable
Pg 39 – Yuma

In Signor's Donner Pass:
Pg 28 – Truckee wood roundhouse with separate cover turntable
Pg 29 – Truckee stone roundhouse, built 1883
Pg 33 – Reno - 4-stall, in background, ca. 1876 by C. E. Watkins
Pg 83 – Rocklin (shortly before move to Roseville)
Pg 129, foldout facing 130 – Truckee

Beebe in CP & SP Railroads:
Frontpiece – Truckee stone roundhouse shortly after built
Pg 33 – Truckee, different early view
Pg 46 – Sacramento, ca 1870s
Pg 59 – Truckee, with wood sheds
Pg 165 – Rocklin, 2 views, mislabeled as Carlin - photos by A. J. Russell in summer 1869
Pg 462 – Sacramento
Pg 454 – Tucson, ca 1880s (with A. J. Stevens feed water purifier, patent #331,917, Dec. 8, 1885) ...

A few references from Best's Iron Horses to Promontory:
Pg 19 – Rocklin stone roundhouse with wood A-frame turntable, ca 1867-68. Hart #241.
Pg 26 – Cisco 2-stall enginehouse in ca 1867-68. Hart #185.
Pg 33 – Cisco 2-stall enginehouse in ca 1867-68. Hart un#.
Pg 36 – Truckee wood enginehouse with separate covered turntable. (Actually Truckee at this time had three long 2-stall engine houses radiating around the turntable.)
Pg 42 – At Carlin, perhaps the roundhouse in background on top right. Hart #345.
Pg 43 – Sacramento roundhouse, probably in 1880s based on trees.
Pg 48 – Wood roundhouse at unknown location in Nevada.
Pgs 72-73 – Truckee stone roundhouse, including view in balloon track.
Pg 74 – Terrace wooden roundhouse ca 1870.
Pg 82 – CP/Stevens 4-6-0 #177 on Sacramento turntable (a cast iron Sellers) with roundhouse in background.
Pg 86 – El Gobernador on the Sumner (Bakersfield) turntable, a cast iron Sellers design.

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum
111 "I" Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

My work address is:
My personal address is:

Wheat and sawdust

From: "Wendell Huffman"

... On that same thumbnail index is a great picture an an early wheat combine (combination cutter and thresher) – which relates to that discussion about bag or bulk wheat. Talk about a hot and dirty beast to manage!

And, having mentioned bag vs bulk wheat– over on the 4L discussion group there has been some discussion of shipment of sawdust/wood shavings in the 19th century. There seems to be agreement that there was a market for such (saloon floors, insulation – either in buildings or in the shipment of ice – packing grapes). However, I suspect most (if not all) was obtained from local sources (local planing mills, box factories, furniture or wagon makers, or – in the case of the Truckee ice plants – local sawmills) and did not require rail shipment. Have any of you run across mention of shipping sawdust/shavings that would suggest how it was shipped (bulk, sacked, barrels)???

I mentioned that the market was probably small and local from the experience of the American River Land & Lumber Co's mill at Folsom. That mill was (reportedly) the world's first all-electric sawmill, and it failed primarily because it became plugged up with its own waste. Without boilers to burn its waste, and prohibited from dumping the waste into the American River by the fish and game commissioner (apparently the first intent), and UNABLE TO FIND A MARKET for its waste, the mill was soon moved to Pino Grande and converted to steam. I suspect everyone in Sacramento who needed sawdust could find all the needed in the many wood-related factories in Sacramento.


Re: Tulare vs. LA Roundhouse - 1880's


The LA Roundhouse was wood, so it is not to be ruled out. Enclosed is a piece that summarizes the SP roundhouses from which to choose. But we also need to include Lathrop. The picture could be Tulare, but the tell-tale trees make me think we are looking at LA.

Tulare, California SPRR Roundhouse
Courtesy Tulare Public Library and the Merv Fulton Collection.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Tulare vs. Los Angeles roundhouses

In a message dated 05-04-06, wrote:

...If you have seen the original (or a better copy) of the Tulare library picture are there any details in it which distinguish it from the similar looking LA roundhouse?

Earlier, Kyle Wyatt wrote:

...The picture could be Tulare, but the tell-tale trees make me think we are looking at LA.

From: "John Sweetser"

Most likely, the photo on the San Joaquin Valley Digitization Project website is of the Tulare roundhouse. Here is why I think so:

At Tulare, the SP extensively planted eucalyptus trees around the roundhouse and shops, so much so that the area was often called "the grove" in early newspapers. For example, the May 30, 1892 Tulare Daily Evening Register, telling of the former Tulare SP workers who had to move to Bakersfield when the shops were transferred there from Tulare in 1891, stated: "...they miss the fine grove under whose shade they worked at Tulare instead of under a boiling sun."

Notice that in the San Joaquin Valley Digitization photo, on the right side of the photo, the tracks radiate continuously from the turntable pit to the right of the roundhouse. But notice that in the photo of the Los Angles roundhouse on pg. 15 of "The Southern Pacific in Los Angeles," there is an interuption in the tracks due to what is apparently a little park to the right of the roundhouse. This park can also be seen in the photo of the LA roundhouse on the bottom of pg. 50 of Signor's Tehachapi book (a photo possibly taken in the 1880s).

I've seen a photo identified as the Tulare roundhouse at the museum in the city of Tulare. It might be the same one as on the San Joaquin Valley Digitization website but I have this vague feeling it may be a different photo (I could be wrong). One photo they do have at the Tulare museum that is definitely incorrectly labeled is a photo supposedly of the interior of the Tulare shops but actually is inside a massive brick and iron building. On the original photo, one can see another massive brick and iron building just outside the doors. Tulare never had anything of this magnitude, just mainly two small shop buildings that were readily moved to Mendota and Fresno after the shops closed, so the photo may have been taken at Sacramento, assuming it was even on the SP in the first place.

John Sweetser

Surviving engines built by the Central Pacific

"State officials want to hear from the public on which Virginia & Truckee Railroad locomotive should be displayed in Virginia City. ... the "Dayton" was built at the Central Pacific Engine Works in Sacramento and first operated on the legendary V&T line in 1873, traveling regularly to Virginia City. ... it’s one of only two surviving engines built by the Central Pacific."


Thursday, June 16, 2005

"Travelers' Official Railway Guide for the United States and Canada." June, 1870.

The following rail guide is now available at the CPRR Museum website:

"Travelers' Official Railway Guide for the United States and Canada." June, 1870. (199 pages)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Railroad lines maps

Could you either provide or direct me to a resource on maps of railroad lines? We would prefer a book, if one is available, but would also be interested in individual maps.

... Any assistance you can provide me would be greatly appreciated.


Alana Lines
Reference Assistant
Eugene Public Library

Identify all the major railroads

I am a seventh grade United States History teacher at a middle school who is trying to identify all the major railroads in the United States in the 1860s to 1890s. This is proving to be a daunting task.

I am impressed with many of the maps you have on your website. ...

Christopher Etchechury, M.ED
Social Studies Subject Area Lead Teacher
Sterling Middle School

Monday, June 13, 2005

Henry Root Documentation

From: "Larry Mullaly"

I have been working for some time on the original physical plant of the Central Pacific and Southern Pacific in San Francisco. It was therefore a happy surprise to stumble onto the memories of Henry Root among the documents of the Central Pacific Railroad Museum. What wonderful material!

Would you know if this document available in hardcopy? Even more intriguing is Root's reference to his "remembrancer" which I take to be some form of journal. Do you know if this document is still extant? I am particularly interested in his work in San Francisco during the period 1870-1875.

Any help would be appreciated.

Larry Mullaly

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Central Pacific Railroad and the Legend of Cape Horn

From: "David Mathes"

Dear CPRR Museum

Please remove the works of ET Strobridge until he has finished his research. The rough drafts are not to scholarly standards. There are many questions yet to be answered. And there appears to be the assumption of personal experience in the 20th century inserted into the 19th century.

I have no agenda, work for no group, belong to no minority and have no financial interest. I simply think that in reading this account it does not belong in a museum but in a chat room. Please do find scholarly works to publish.

David Mathes


As a rail buff I am aware that the Legend of Cape Horn is controversial. Your research raises more questions than it answers as any attempt to prove a negative would do so. However, in the account and research of the Legend of Cape Horn there seems to be huge gaps in understanding and research as if this was a hastily written article to promote - without evidence - your childhood experience in landsurveying and development.

While you are entitled to your opinon, I expect a higher standard from the museum and ask that the article be withdrawn from the website and museum as heresay and personal opinion. The research is in adequate, the account is personalized, and the results do not pass the proverbial smell test nor English 101 standards.

In my opinion you overlooked a number of obvious things in your assessment. I am a bit disappointed on this article. You have presented the barest of evidence and in fact rely on the absence of evidence in order to prove a negative.

Now, I'm not a historian nor an asian, nor do I even care about railroad history normally. Yet, I realize that myths come and go, and we may never know the "truth" as it were of what really happened. However, this article leaves open all sorts of windows while trying to slam the door on a supposed myth.

If only the rocks could talk...perhaps a future archeological dig will find at the botton of the heap the right type of markings in making blast holes...still wouldn't tell us whether rope, basket or bosun chair was used.

Two interesting items are the "bosun's chair" and the name Cape Horn itself. How did it get that name? And what is a bosun's chair.

Sailing was a well developed means of travel in the 19th century requiring lots of rope to hoist and control the sails. The Chinese sailed from China; the Europeans sailed around Cape Horn. Working with ropes was nothing new and in fact, quite easy for most of the actual workers (non-surveyors).

I have been on survey crews in California. We didn't climb over cliffs on ropes to do surveys. In my opinion you are replacing one myth with another.

In the prelaser days we used triangulation even to draw contours. I know of no account of any survey crew using ropes for the actual survey. I'd like to see the proof that a California survey crew did just that and the earliest account.

Furthermore, I have walked that area. The place is slipper in the driest of summers. We almost lost a car over the side in one section where the same material is. So it's reasonable that the CPRR did not want to lose any equipment OR people, and roped them both up just in case they needed to haul them back up the mountain.

Where did the rope, the bosun's chair, and the baskets come from?

Well, the Gold Rush created a huge amount of stuff left over from the ships sailing around Cape Horn to the Gold fields. The closest you could get was Sacramento in a ship, and eventually San Francisco Bay was so full that many ships were simply burned for various reasons.

Typically, the ships were stripped of rope and cloth. Levi's came out of sail cloth. And the ropes were used for construction of all sorts as well as transportation. Rope was a necessity of life in California whether it was unloading the ships, mining the Gold Fields, building San Francisco, or even traversing sections of the Sierra.

So, rope was available, CPRR wanted to do things cheaply, the merchants of San Francisco had multistory mansions and used various seafaring laborers who were used to bosun's chairs...

But a bosun's chair requires all the tools and equipment be lowered to you by rope. Wouldn't it be more efficient and cheaper to use a "basket" of some sort? Now, you might want to disprove the basket theory by lack of bamboo. Yet, many of the Indian tribes had basket weaving. I wonder if the Chinese and Indians ever got together to trade baskets.

Then again, the "crows nest" on sailing vessels were refered to as a basket. A ncessary and vital part of the ship, these could be stripped to carry stuff having already provde themselves worthy at sea.

Also, the Chinese used baskets for shipping goods. Were any of these baskets even available for use? Where they a "poor man's" duffle bag? How much weight was allowed in a basket?

Is there any Chinese history that indicates in California, China or elsewhere that baskets even exist and could support the weight. I refer you to modern construction methods using bamboo on skyscrapers as a start.

Finally, one might ask if there were other roads or rails in California that were constructed by people on ropes. Oh...the Yosemite road was done that way and there are pictures of people on ropes. A more comprehensive search would be appropriate to determine the use of baskets"

I daresay the preponderance of circumstantial evidence is piling up that the possibility exists, and the proof that something did not happen is a premature condemnation. I sincerely hope you have not personalized history in order to immortalize yourself regarding Cape Horn at the expense of others who actually did the work.

I do not believe your work represents a scholarly review but presents a biased opinion, one that does not reflect American values nor properly represent history.

I ask that the work be removed until such time that your research is complete and thorough. I strongly recommend that should you continue your myth busting approach that your writings take an honorable and professional approach.

Thanks in advance

David Mathes
Rocklin, California

Friday, June 10, 2005

Gray Paint and Red Station Trim in the 1880's

From: "Larry Mullaly"

I recently came upon a interesting analysis of the paint scheme of the original Ashland (Oregon) depot-hotel, erected in 1888. It brings up an interesting topic: the use of a red window trim on these early buildings. The quote below is an excerpt from the application to the National Park Service for inclusion of the building on the National Register of Historic Places and was prepared in 1990 for the (still-) surviving south end of SP's Ashland depot.

"Exterior paint analysis (cratering technique) indicates the original paint of the depot was a deep grey colored paint, with a sand finish on the lower 5' feet, more or less, of the siding. The lower portions of the window and door trim was also sand-painted, in this case with a deep reddish/brick color. Photos indicate a slightly lighter color paint (without sand finish) was used above to the soffits although cratering does not bear this out ... All subsequent paint colors of the Ashland Depot are various shades of the yellow/mustard color body and deep umber trim that is typical of Southern Pacific buildings throughout Oregon. At least six different coats of yellow are present on the Ashland Depot structure."


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Question: Largest Roundhouse in the World

From: "Steve and Mary Ann"  

... I ... have a question about the largest roundhouse in the world.  The CPRR stated that the largest roundhouse in the world is in Sparks, Nevada.  It was only a 40 bay roundhouse.  There was one in Oneonta, NY that had 52 bays, was 400' in diameter and had a 75' roundtable.

Is the information on the CPRR site correct?

Claims of "World's Largest Roundhouse" –

Sparks, Nevada, 1904-1905 (CPRR); ?largest 1905-1906

Oneonta, New York, 1906 (Delaware & Hudson RR); largest 1906-?1915

Altoona, Pennsylvania, (Pennsylvania RR); largest ?dates
"Work on the oldest section of the Altoona Roundouse began in the early 1880s, with a major expansion built in 1913 and a third in 1947."

Question: Date station name changed from Burson to Helisma

From: "Salvatore Manna"

I live in a small Calaveras County, California town called Burson. It was founded when the San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada railroad built a station here in 1884. By 1888, the Southern Pacific had purchased the narrow gauge line and in 1904 converted it to standard gauge. At some point--believed to be between 1888 and 1912--the railroad changed the name of the station from Burson to Helisma. Where can I access, or have someone access for me, a series of annual railroad maps or timetables, for example, that could pinpoint the year of the name change? I have scoured the Internet, any book I could lay my hands on, County archives, etc. – I'm a professional journalist – but have yet to find an answer. HELP!



Railroad Lands - REITS to combine: Catellus to Be Bought by ProLogis

You may have seen in yesterday's business news the announcement that two of the largest Real Estate Investment Trusts will become one as Catellus, spun off to shareholders in 1990 by Santa Fe Pacific Corporation, is to be acquired by ProLogis. What you may not know is that according to the Los Angeles Times, Catellus, one of California's largest private landowners with the best industrial real estate portfolio in the United States, including Union Station in Los Angeles, is the descendent of the Big Four railroad real estate holdings, including former CPRR and SPRR lands going back as far as the Sacramento Valley Railroad.

Courtesy of Google Alerts.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

CPRR Discussion Group