Monday, August 01, 2005

Reconstructing Governor Stanford: a Virtual Norris

From: "Jim Wilke"

From time to time I have the opportunity to work with computer illustrator Jon Davis ( in recreating virtual models of steam locomotives. Jon's work is extraordinary and his drawings faithfully recreate these machines with a high degree of accuracy.

Jon and I are currently working on several 19th century 4-4-0s, some of which ran on the Central Pacific. One of these, Governor Stanford No. 1, is attached.

Governor Stanford represents a standard American locomotive of 1862-63, built by Richard Norris & Son, an established Mid Atlantic builder and the largest in the United States. Norris locomotives were highly regarded for their working ability, and I believe there is commentary on the Central Pacific that supports this. Its design and finish reflects the vernacular tradition that made up one school of locomotive design at the time, and proves to be better looking than previously thought.

Jon's drawing represents the locomotive as it appeared when new. The drawing is based on two photographs of the engine in construction service on the Central Pacific, the surviving locomotive, and photographs of comparable Norris locomotives. The color scheme is based on paint sample research on the locomotive during restoration for the California State railroad Museum, Norris advertising lithographs from the 1850s, and a written description by H. C. Caruthers of a Norris engine delivered to the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1861.

—Jim Wilke