Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Additional CPRR Locomotive Rosters

From: "Wendell Huffman"

[Coming soon are] copies of Crocker's 1867 list of locomotives, the 1868 printed list, the 1887 list from the "Testimony of the United States Pacific Railway Commission," and Montague's 1864 engineer's report (which includes a list of locomotives).

Donald Duke did a typeset version of the 1868 roster, which appears in his "Southern Pacific Steam Locomotives" from Golden West Books (which is Duke's company). It is certainly more legible ... The latest address I have for him is P.O. Box 80250 San Marino, CA 91118-8250 ...

I found the 1887 roster of some use in my research, but it will perhaps be confusing to most people. It introduces "date rebuilt" information, which in some cases is indeed a date when a particular locomotive really was physically rebuilt (presumably the date it was released from the shop). However, in several cases the "date rebuilt" is actually the date that a listed locomotive replaced a previous – and completely distinct locomotive. For instance, the entry for the No.3 locomotive has a "date put in service" of Oct. 29, 1863 and a "date rebuilt" of Oct. 30, 1872. That "date put in service" represents the date the "C.P. Huntington" was invoiced by Danforth in New Jersey, while the "date rebuilt" represents the date a brand new 4-4-0 built by Rogers Locomotive Works was added to the roster. In no way that any of us would understand was the old "C.P. Huntington" rebuilt into the Rogers 4-4-0. Indeed, the "Huntington" was happily still puffing away down on the SP while what appears to be a "rebuilt" "Huntington" was working on the CP.

So, in the same document, the term "rebuilt" is used in two different ways. The best explanation for this odd-seeming practice is that calling a new locomotive a "rebuild" allowed its cost to be entered in operating rather than capital expenditures by the accounting department. This has led to much confusion, and for years brand new A.J. Stevens-built locomotive have been identified as rebuilts of various earlier locomotives. Indeed, it has made the task of counting and identifying Sacramento-built locomotives difficult if not impossible, simply because there is no way to draw a line between a rebuilt locomotive and a locomotive the company called a rebuilt locomotive.

Another compounding problem is simply that the company never used the modifier "second" or 'third" to indicate that a particular locomotive was the second or third to carry a particular number. It is like the locomotive number itself is the thing that really matters, and the machines that sequentially wore any particular number were themselves of secondary importance. I suppose that is how accountants may have seen it, and these rosters were most likely compiled by accountants in offices far away from the actual locomotives.

This 1887 roster also demonstrates how easy it is for mistakes to be entered into the record. When you get this, you will note that on the first two pages cylinder sizes are given in inches, while on the last pages they are given in "feet". Clearly the dimensions are still inches – the term only was mistakenly changed, perhaps by a typesetter. The mistake is easy enough to overlook. However, my point is, the mistake happened; and for all we know any of these rosters contain other mistakes that were no more difficult to make, yet are perhaps more difficult to weed out. This is why, while these wonderful original rosters exist, I continue to take the effort to compare every scrap of evidence I can find and work at compiling a more comprehensive roster. It takes about as much time as genealogy, though fortunately has only a finite number of units to consider.