Friday, October 28, 2005

How many Chinese were dead building the RR?

I am a Chinese 6th grade student. I have a report about the Transcontinental RR, so let me ask you: How many Chinese were dead building the RR?  

—D. J.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Historical Railroad CD-Rom

From: "Milan Škoda"

I look for any US historical Railroad CD-Rom (operation system Windows) for my son who is railroad modeler .... but in my country (Czech republic) is impossible find and buy or exchange this CD ... can you help me? Do you know any website with historical railroad CD-Roms or have you it?

take care and thank you advance

Milan Skoda, ICQ 109710230

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Track Gauge

From: "Ray State"

... The extra .5" on the track gauge has puzzled people for some time. Why not 4ft 8"? It fact the first railways in the UK were built to 4ft 8". The answer may come from recent research into the Stockton and Darlington Railway. This line was Built by George Stephenson and opened in 1825. He followed the same pattern as his earlier railways in Northumberland and Durham and made the gauge 4ft 8" and the first locomotives, being 0-4-0 were relatively short wheel base (about 4ft) and therefore had no trouble in negotiating the curves on the line. The engineer in charge of the S&DR, Timothy Hackworth soon found that these primitive locomotives were underpowered and costly and so, following a visit by some Prussian engineers in 1827, decided to build his own locomotives. To increase power he designed an 0-6-0 with a rigid wheelbase of 8ft 7", over twice the average of the original fleet. Locomotive #5 Royal George entered service late in 1827 but soon was found to derail and attempt to straighten the curves. The locomotive was sketched by John U Rastrick in 1829 on his visit in June of that year. Undaunted Hackworth set about widening the gauge by .5" to permit the longer wheelbase. This had no affect on the existing fleet as the width of the tyres was enough to accommodate the gauge widening. Gauge widening was easy because the rails were held in stone blocks and it was simply a matter of edging one line of blocks outwards and repacking. Hackworth told Stephenson what he had done and the locomotives continued to be built to 4ft 8" but from then on George Stephenson and his son Robert built track to 4ft 8.5" and so the "standard" gauge was born.

—Ray State

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

From: "Whitney Moses"

I thought your colleagues and members might be interested in learning about the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The Institute's mission is to promote the study and love of American history, and we provide an array of resources for students, teachers, scholars and the general public.

I'd like to inform you about some of our programs ... Many such programs and initiatives are free to educators and scholars, including:

* Summer Seminars and other professional development opportunities for teachers and college professors;

* History Now, a quarterly, online journal featuring articles by historians, lesson plans, and interactive features;

* Lectures, symposia, conferences and traveling exhibitions on American history;

* A number of publications, including "Early American Abolitionists: A Collection of Anti-Slavery Writings 1760-1820" which is available free of charge to history teachers, professors and institutional libraries. To order a copy, educators and librarians should email name, title, school or library and address;

* Awards including the History Teacher of Year; and

* Research fellowships for scholars and journalists to work in history archives.

Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments.

Many thanks.

Whitney Moses
Marketing and Research Assistant
Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
19 West 44th Street, Suite 500
New York, New York 10036

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Book: California for Health, Pleasure, and Residence, by Charles Nordhoff, 1872.

Now available online at the CPRR Museum:

"California: For Health, Pleasure, and Residence. A Book for Travellers and Settlers." by Charles Nordhoff, 1872.
(complete book, 252 pages with illustrations and maps in searchable pdf format)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Engineering drawings for the Jupiter and No. 119 Locomotives

From: "Jules C. Jacquin"

Are some of the engineering drawings for constructing the Jupiter and No. 119 available?

—Jules Jacquin

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Question: Information on a locomotive - Schenectady - 2012 wrote:

I recently saw a photo of a rather curious Central Pacific consolidation. It was apparently an enlargement of a builder's photo, and the locomotive pictured was named "Schenectady," and numbered 2012, evidentally having been built by the locomotive works of that name....Could you help me with info. regarding date of manufacture, and any subsequent renumberings or rebuildings?

Kyle Wyatt replied:

CP 2012 was a 4-8-0 built by Schenectady in 1895

I have a reference to sister locomotive #2010:

February 23, 1895 Kern City Standard (Bakersfield, Calif.) - #2010 arrived this week. One of two or three mammoth engines the SP recently had built. It is the object of much interest. Weighs 25 tons. To be put on the mountain [i.e., the Tehachapi run]

John Sweetser

CP-SP named locomotives

From: "Wendell Huffman"

Table of Named Locomotives of the CP-SP World
Sorted by Locomotive NamePDF

Table of Named Locomotives of the CP-SP World
Sorted by Railroad Company InitialsPDF

Table of Named Locomotives of the CP-SP World
Sorted by BuilderPDF

This may prove handy on some occasion.

The goal was to include every named locomotive that ended up in the 1891 roster – or would have were it still around. Only one SF&NP loco is included – and that because it was first on the SF&SJ. I hope this comes through as a word document – so you can resort it at your pleasure – say by company initials. Note, several locomotives are on here more than once – either under different initials/numbers or so one can find locos with multi-word names under any word (like: Gov. Stanford or Stanford, Gov.) Elephant has no road initials because it was not on a named/incorporated railroad while it bore that name (though the same locomotive is there three other places (as C.K. Garrison, Garrison C.K., and Pioneer). And there are a few locos for which builder and/or specs are as yet unknown (if anyone had this, please respond).

CalP – California Pacific
CC – California Central
CC/Y – California Central/Yuba RR
CN – California Northern
CP – Central Pacific
LA&I – Los Angeles & Independence
LA&SP – Los Angeles & San Pedro
O&C – Oregon & California
OC – Oregon Central
S&C – Stockton & Copperopolis
SC&PV – Santa Clara & Pajaro Valley
SF&A – San Francisco & Alameda
SF&NP – San Francisco & North Pacific
SF&O – San Francisco & Oakland
SF&SJ – San Francisco & Jan Jose
SP – Southern Pacific
SV – Sacramento Valley
VV&CL – Vaca Valley & Clear Lake
WP – Western Pacific

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Railroads built along ridge lines


The trick in crossing a mountain is to design enough mileage into the route to keep the rate of ascent within acceptable limits. The shortest route is rarely the best.

The Central Pacific was limited by statute to a grade of 112 feet per mile. The elevation difference between Donner and the valley is roughly 7000 feet, so the route had to run at least 62.5 miles. My recollection is that it is about 70 miles by rail from Donner to Roseville – so the CP was quite effecient. While there are countless ridges extending westward from the crest of the Sierra, few extend all the way to the floor of the Central Valley. Most end where the intervening canyons merge. The ridge the CP followed happenes to be one of the ones which runs the whole way – in this case between the American River watershed to the south and the Bear and Yuba River watershed to the north.

Nevertheless, I sincerely doubt that that remarkable ridge had anything to do with the selection of that route for the railroad. The initial goal of the movers behind the Central Pacific was to profit from the commerce then flowing between San Francisco and the Comstock Lode – and the Donner route just happened to be the one relatively direct route not yet controlled by other interests (in the form of toll road franchises). Railroads were successfully designed for other routes across the Sierra which – lacking the long ridge used by the CP – managed to fit in the necessary mileage by looping into side canyons along the way.

What Judah did was verify that one could indeed fit 70 odd miles of track between the valley and the summit along the Donner Route. I'm not sure just when – or even if – Judah realized "their" ridge was significant. Mining engineers who laid out the miles of flumes which tapped high country reservoirs to feed the hydraulic mining operations had doubtless already discovered routes with steady grades from the high country to the mines (such as those around Dutch Flat). We know that Judah's initial "survey" between Dutch Flat and the summit merely followed a previously surveyed route which Daniel Strong was trying to promote for a toll road. From Dutch Flat to the valley, Judah initially followed existing roads or railroad surveys without regard to staying on the ridge. And in the end, I'm not at all sure whether it was Theodore Judah or his brother Douglas who actually "put" the railroad onto the ridge to Auburn – rather than down in Auburn Ravine as Theodore had earlier proposed. There is just a whole lot to the final selection of the CP route that is lost to us.

Conversely, the Western Pacific required roughly 100 miles of track to make their economical descent from 5000 feet to stay within their design criteria. The ridges which extend west from their summit were considerably higher than their pass itself, and their steady descent pushed them down into the canyon fairly soon. The trick in their case was shifting from the middle fork of the Feather over to the north fork. They could indeed have followed a ridge – say between the Feather and Butte Creek – farther out into the valley, but to do so would have given them some nearly level running at a higher elevation- -where snow would have been some problem. Even so, the creation of Oroville reservoir in the 1960s forced them to relocate onto that ridge – and if memory serves, resulted in an even better grade.

As an aside, highway 50 between Placerville and the crest of the Sierra runs in the canyon of the south fork of the American River. The road is very winding. However, the little known Mormon Emigrant Trail – the first true road across the Sierra and the one followed by most overland emigrants during the gold rush – follows the ridge just to the south. Getting to it involves some twisty sections, but once on the ridge it runs relatively straight and steady for 25 miles – with some tangents running a full mile.


[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

Monday, October 17, 2005

Early San Francisco Roundhouse

From: "Larry Mullaly"

I am trying to date the the original six-stall roundhouse at the geographic southerly end of the Harrison Street Yards, later expanded to 8 stalls with the addition of what AC Bassett describes as a “new roundhouse” in his 1873 journal. The six-stall structure was used by the SP. The two-stall addition is reported as used by CP engines switching CP freight houses along Townsend Yard.

I am beginning to think that the 6-stall structure may not have been erected by the predecessor San Francisco & San Jose road. An account in the Daily Alta California of June 4, 1865 describes the original SF&SJ engine house at this site as a “frame building two hundred feet in length,” The US Railroad Commissioners report of Feb. 9, 1866 indicates that “the engine house is capable of accommodating seven locomotives.” (one “stall” too many or too few for the SP structure). Finally a bird’s-eye view of the early 1870 shows only two long rectangular structures along the tracks, but no “round” house.

The roundhouse, may therefore by an SP structure. Its appearance suggests as much. Photos taken of the six stall + 2 stall roundhouse in the early 1900’s shows a board and batten design with a flat (sloped) roof resembling that of the original Oakland roundhouse (see Signor’s Western Division, p. 41). The flat-roof design contrasts with the gabled-roof wooden roundhouses that later appear at Tulare, Los Angeles and Yuma later in the 1870s.

Using the original Oakland roundhouse as a dating element, are there other CP wood-frame roundhouses from the early 1870s that were also flat roofed? Other suggestions on how to date this long-gone structure?

Any help will be appreciated.

—Larry Mullaly

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Book: Epic of the Overland by Robert Lardin Fulton, 1924

Now available online at the CPRR Museum:

"Epic of the Overland." by Robert Lardin Fulton. San Francisco, A. M. Robertson, 1924.PDF
(complete book, 109 pages with illustrations and map in searchable pdf format)

" ... personal reminiscences ... I spent the exciting years of construction in the Union Pacific service, crossing to the Pacific side when the heroics ended ... and serving with the Central in California, Nevada, and Utah ... and had been telegraph operator, station agent, brakeman, conductor, and train dispatcher before I could vote ... "

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Last Spike is Driven, Utah Historical Quarterly, Winter 1969

Now online at the CPRR Museum:

"The Last Spike is Driven." Utah Historical Quarterly, 37(1), Winter 1969.PDF
"Copyright Utah State Historical Society, used by permission."

Courtesy Stan Layton, Utah State Historical Society.

The entire journal issue is online as a searchable pdf file. (Note that details in photographs included in these articles can be best seen by zooming your pdf viewer to 300% magnification.) The contents are below; two of the articles are also reproduced as web pages:


The Transcontinental Railroad and the Development of the West.
By Leonard J. Arrington ..... 3

Contracting for the Union Pacific.
By Robert G. Athearn ..... 16

Chinese Laborers and the Construction of the Central Pacific.
By George Kraus ..... 41

Golden Spike National Historic Site: Development of an Historical Reconstruction.
By F. A. Ketterson, Jr ..... 58

Rendezvous at Promontory: The "Jupiter" and No. 119.
By Gerald M. Best ..... 69

Driving The Last Spike at Promontory, 1869.
By J. N. Bowman ..... 76

Corinne, the Fair: Gateway to Montana Mines.
By Brigham D. and Betty M. Madsen ..... 102

The Undriving of the Golden Spike.
By David H. Mann ..... 124

Mid-Century Crossing by Rail.
By Jack Goodman ..... 135

Question: My great grandfather, Adolph de Jongh, was there in 1869-1870


Rüdiger Marwede
Humboldtweg 11
31535 Neustadt
Tel/Fax: 0049 5032 / 61451

We are glad to see some things about the old railway construction from the 19. Century.

The father of my own grandfather, his name was Adolph de Jongh, lived in Hamburg (Germany) and was an engineer for building railways. He received New York at the 06. June 1868 by the Hapag Steamer "TEUTONIA": As we know, he worked at a railway company on the way from San Francisco to New York.

Here we can give you some dates:

He married on the 17 of July 1869 in San Francisco his wife Elisabeth York, who was also born in Germany. His son was born at the 15 May 1870 in Bloomington.

His daughter (my grandmother) was born at the 23 February 1872 in Indianapolis.

Adolph de Jongh (my grand grandfather) died at the 25 January 1873 in Piqua, Miami Country, State Ohio. His wife Elisabeth York died before him at the 26 August 1872 of typhoid fever.

Also we have some original certificates about this time.

As you will understand the children of them were very small and had no parents in America, so their stepfather John York brought them back to Germany, to Hamburg.

Now we would like to know, if you have the name of the company in which Adolph de Jongh worked and also if you know some things about his profession at this company.

—R. Marwede

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Swedish UPRR Workers


I really enjoy your site and return often to read and learn more about some new aspect of this grand undertaking!  My great great great uncle Bengt Johan Johansson, 1837-1915, worked as a railroad builder (Jarnvagsbygget) for the Union Pacific.  I was told many times by my grandfather as a child that he was in the famous May 10, 1869 joining photograph.  I wish I knew what specific job he did or how long he worked for the Union Pacific railroad.  Are there any specific materials you could recommend that discuss Swedish workers?  

Keep up the great work!  

—Joe Mirabella, Jr.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Question: signalman pictures


any signalman or signalgang pics?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Train ownership


What does it take to own a C.P. Huntingdon restored engine, such as the one ... at the California State Railroad Museum? ...

—Dave Leresche

The History of Winnemucca by J.P. Marden

Friday, October 07, 2005

Tunneling through the Sierra inch by inch by Gordon Richards, Sierra Sun

"Tunneling through the Sierra inch by inch: Echoes from the Past," by Gordon Richards, President and Research Historian for the Truckee Donner Historical Society, © Sierra Sun, Truckee, CA, October 6, 2005. (News Article)

" ... More credit for the Donner Pass route should really be given to Dr. Daniel Strong of Dutch Flat. It was Strong who invited and guided Theodore Judah to the area in 1860, when Judah was searching for a rail-feasible pass over the mountains. The shallow canyon above the south side of Donner Lake was originally named Strong's Canyon, but today is known as Lakeview Canyon. Strong went on to be a Central Pacific Board of Directors member. By 1862, Judah laid out the exact route of the summit tunnels and the traverse along Schallenberger Ridge, then known as Donner's Backbone, but other engineers, such as Samuel Montague and Lewis Clement, completed the final survey locations and construction staking for the Chinese labor crews. In the stretch from Cisco to Schallenberger Ridge, crews had to dig more than 5,150 linear feet in nine tunnels to maintain the grades engineered by Judah. Almost all of these tunnels were in granite that was stronger than steel. The 1,659-foot-long Summit Tunnel, No. 6, required the longest time, more sweat and more explosives than all of the other tunnels combined. ... the near precision engineering of tunnel engineer Lewis Clement, all four headings of Tunnel 6 came to within 2 inches of the planned alignment. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Folsom Event

From: "Bill Anderson"

A very exciting event will take place in Folsom, CA Saturday Oct. 15, 2005. The opening of Sacramento Regional Transit District's extension of light rail service begins. Ironically, this event is only four months away from the 150th birthday of the west's first railroad, the Sacramento Valley Rail Road (February 22, 2006).

A parade will meet the incoming train carrying 400 dignitaries! Speeches of course. Then an ice cream social. The 1875 J. W. Bowker steam locomotive will be on the historic turntable nearby, thanks to the California State Railroad Museum. Handcar rides will be available. Buffalo Soldiers, Wells Fargo Stage, Mountain Men, Chinese Herbalist, Pony Express Riders, Blacksmithing, Gold Panning, the grand re-opening of the Folsom Powerhouse, music and more.

—Bill Anderson

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Question: McKeen cars

From: "Bill Anderson"

McKeen cars ran on the Placerville Branch of the Old S.P. line from (?) to 1939. Any information on the cars, stories etc.?

—Bill Anderson

Question: SVRR map

From: "Bill Anderson"

I have a copy of a map, "Showing the alteration in the Line of Location of the SACRAMENTO VALLEY RAILROAD."
signed: J.L. Folsom, President, SVRR Co. and Theo. D. Judah, Chief Engr. SVRR.
Station 920 to station 1044.
No topo or other identifying features.
Where along the SVRR could it be?

—Bill Anderson

Southern Pacific historical archives

From: (Clifford Harwood)

The Union Pacific Railroad has moved all of the Southern Pacific historical archives from S.P. to the Union Pacific museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Iron rails


November 13, 1890 Valley Record (Ashland, Ore.) - the Southern Pacific is an all-steel rail line now. The last iron rail between Portland and Albany is being replaced by steel.

—John Sweetser

Saturday, October 01, 2005

New book: "A Study of Cape Horn Construction on the CPRR, 1865-1866" by Jack E. Duncan

Summary of a new book:

"A Study of Cape Horn Construction on the Central Pacific Railroad, 1865-1866." by Jack E. Duncan, 2005.

The book is available at Big Bend Ranger Station, Dutch Flat Historical Society, Placer Sierra Railroad Heritage Society, Placer County Historical Society and Smith’s Bookstore in Auburn. It is also available from the author.

Jack E. Duncan
8555 Crater Hill Road
Newcastle, CA, 95658

Retail price $13.95
plus $1.05 tax in California
$2.00 if mailed

Sacramento Placer and Nevada Railroad

From: "Chris Graves"

You may recall the Placer County Railroad War.

When the rails were pulled up in 1864, the town of Auburn Station disappeared – in the intervening 141 years, the old grade (with 4 exceptions) was lost to homes, orchards, roads, etc.

The lost has been found. In 1862 there was a California Supreme Court Decision, entitled Sacramento and Placer and Nevada Railroad vs C. F. Harland. Not only was the railroad mis named, but Mr. Harland's name was also, the result of which no one had a clue that this decision in 1862 revolved around the SP&N. ...

Using a Case Number, rather than a title, the case has been located in the California Archives. And in the carefully folded up packet, there is a map.

... with this map, one can quickly see Auburn Station, the Mountaineer House, Wild Wood Station, etc.

The SP & N ran between Folsom and Auburn Station between 1861 and 1864; rails were pulled up and relaid on the Placerville and Sacramento Valley Railroad in '64. Wendell could give you correct dates and places, I am most likely off a bit in dates, noted above.

It's a fantastic story, and with the map now in my hands, all interested could know.

Map measures about 12 x 18 inches, has place names, townships and range and sections marked.

Wendell knows a lot more about this than I do ... When he was here for the History Channel filming, he and I went to a few of the places where the old grade is still visible. He would be a great resource for the map. The rail that Judah bought back in 1859 for his Calif. Eastern Extension (best have Wendell validate that name) ended up on the Sac. Placer Nevada, 550 tons would go about 6 1/2 miles. I have a piece of rail from Baldwin Dam on the old grade, that computes to 50 lbs to the yard, as well as a piece from the old Griffith Quarry that computes to 52 lbs to the yard. If memory serves, Judah's rail was 52 lb., best check with Wendell on that.

The map was so fragile the Archives would not let it for reproduction ... Map was not indexed in the Archives, those folks did not know that they had it.

CPRR Discussion Group