Saturday, January 22, 2005

Re: SF&SJ loco questions

Looking through my files I come across several interesting things.
An article on an excursion in the San Francisco Alta-California, June 4, 1865 (GM Best transcription).
The excursion was pulled by the loco "A. H. Houston".  It notes that the SF&SJ owned 5 locos at this time, so the Booth engines had not yet been added.  They had also not yet been renamed.
SF Alta of Aug 1, 1865
Notes the "California" left the [H J Booth & Co] factory and was sent to the paint shop of the SF&SJ that morning.  It notes the "Atlantic" will under construction, along with an engine for the Sacramento Valley [later became CP #7].
The Mining & Scientific Press of Sept 2, 1865
Noted the trial trip of the "California" that morning.  Built by H J Booth & Co.
An Affidavit of Wm I. Lewis (the railroad's civil engineer) on the San Francisco & San Jose dated Feb. 9, 1866 (copy courtesy of Wendell from Calif. State Archives).  It lists the 7 locomotives and their builders, summarized as follows:
Atlantic and California - Donahue, Booth & Co of San Francisco [H J Booth & Co]
San Mateo and Camanche - Danforth, Cooke & Co. of Paterson, NJ
San Francisco, San Jose and Pacific - Norris & Son of Philadelphia
Clearly by this time the locomotive names have been changed.  Also note spelling of "Camanche" (as opposed to "Comanche").  I also note that the "San Jose", later sold to the San Francisco & North Pacific, had smaller cylinders and drivers than the other original 5 engines.
Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

Note my work address has changed to:
My personal address remains:

Was there a camp of Chinese RR worker tents at Promontory?

It does not seem that there was a Chinese camp at Promontory at the time that the rails were joined, as has been suggested, although hundreds of Chinese railroad workers were seen further west along the CPRR grade in Nevada on May 11, 1869.

Does anyone have information to supplement the description from the diary of Capt. John Charles Currier regarding the numbers of Chinese workers at Promontory, the numbers involved in the last portion of the CPRR construction East of Mormon Hill, and whether perhaps there was a Chinese RR worker camp at Promontory Summit prior to May 10, 1869?

J. N. Bowman writes in "Driving the Last Spike At Promontory, 1869." California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. XXXVI, No. 2,  June 1957, pp. 96-106,  and Vol. XXXVI, No. 3, September 1957, pp. 263-274:

The bulk of the Chinese and other workers who had completed the line by May 1 had been shunted westward to improve certain points of the line, leaving only a few, perhaps a dozen, to do the grading, lay the ties and drive the few spikes of the west rail, lay the east rail for the ceremony, and replace the laurel tie. ...

For the military participation, the diary of Lt. J. C. Currier of Co. K was found by Miss Irene Simpson of the Wells Fargo history room in 1954 in the possession of Mrs. Harriet Currier Hale (daughter of the Lt.) of San Mateo, California, and now of Massachusetts. That portion of the diary concerning May 10 is as follows:

"We have just witnessed the laying of the last rail. Crowds began assemblying at 7 a.m. There were several thousands present and ceremonies were opened with a prayer by a minister from Mass. A covered wood tie, beautifully polished and appropriately engraved was then brought out and placed in position by the highest officials of each R.R. A spike of gold was then produced with a silver hammer. A telegraph wire was attached to the spike — at a given signal, one, two, three strokes were made with the silver hammer. The telegraph wires were so arranged that the taps were flashed to all parts of the U. S. so that eager thousands in all the great cities knew the rail was laid and the R.R. complete. Truly it was worth the trip from New Hampshire alone to see this great achievement. Two beautifully decorated engines, one of each road advanced until the guards touched — the engineers climbed out and broke a bottle of champagne across the space and shook hands. Nattie [Mrs. Currier] and I were permitted to give a stroke — I used my sword hilt. Our regiment marched up and stood at Parade rest while our pictures were taken, then our regimental band played."

A few days later the regiment arrived at the San Francisco Presidio. [See Hist. Register, U. S. Army (Washington, D. C., 1903),I, 345, for career of John Charles Currier.]

... By the time of the celebration, about 20 tents and shacks had been erected on both sides of the track but most of them on the west side. ...

See the Silvis photographs of tents and shacks at Promontory.

Capt. John Charles Currier continued his journey west on the first CPRR train and writes in his diary, the next day:

"Tuesday, May 11th, 1869 P.M.
At Humboldt Wells, Nevada Territory, 165 miles from Promontory. We are making excellent time. There is a perceptible difference in the running time from that of the U.P. We go faster. Our car is very fair day cars. They are splendid, made after the latest pattern in Springfield, Mass. We have patent brakes, ventilation etc. They look fresh and clean, very much like the cars on the Boston and Maine running to Portland. Our friend who went to Salt Lake joined us yesterday. We came through several historic (to be) places last night such as "Red Dome Pass," "Terrace Point", "Desert Passage Creek", "Loans" etc. We are getting into sage brush and sand. What an oasis is the Salt Lake Valley on this line. Leaving barren rocks and sterile soil, the traveler emerges into a land flowing with milk and honey, fertile soil, cultivated farms, [and] good houses but he flies across this valley rapidly, like lightening, and comes out again upon a still more barren wood and worthless soil. Upon this we are now and, as if anxious to get over it quick, our speed is increasing. We run thirty miles an hour with very few stops. The Centrals carry their water along with them in immense tanks for it is very difficult to obtain water here. The grading of this road is perfect; for the last 80 miles we have run as smooth as a floor. The road was built by "John Chinaman", HUNDREDS OF WHOM ARE SEEN ALONG THE ROUTE. They attract much attention with their odd dress and cues dangling behind. They look strange to us. But they are faithful workmen and said to be infinitely superior to the Irish laborers. It is growing hot and dusty; we are in the alkali and the dust sifts and blows. There is nothing grown, nothing but miserable sage brush; not much sleep for us tonight."

"Wednesday, May 12th, 1869
Passed a night of intense misery and discomfort. The dust was stifling. There was very little air and the alkali came into the car in clouds filling eyes, nose, mouth and ears. With all this we ran like lightening at a frightful speed. Made 200 miles last night. Some times our car, it being the rear one, would snap as if it was to whip. Several of the officers became alarmed at our speed. On, On, we rushed with not a stop. We are 324 [miles from] Sacramento. Oh this alkali and sage brush! We are sick and tired of it; beats anything on the U.P. YET "JOHN" IS ENCAMPED ALONG THE ROAD right in the sun, apparently contented and happy. ... "

Re: SF&SJ and SP San Francisco Terminals

I'd like to collect info on the terminals in San Francisco used by the SF&SJ and the SP before they settled at Townsend Street.  The following article, I believe sets an end date for the period I'm exploring.
San Francisco Bulletin  July 27, 1874
The transfer of the passenger depot of the Southern Pacific from Valencia Street to the corner of Fourth and Townsend will be completed in a few weeks.
I believe the SF&SJ moved to the Valencia Street site, at the corner of Valencia and Market, about 1865 or 66 when they acquired control of the Market Street Railroad and converted it to standard gauge.  They had hoped to be able to run freight trains down Market to the industrial area at night, but were not allowed to.  Similarly, steam passenger trains were barred from Market Street.
Prior to that, I'm less clear about where the SF&SJ terminal was.  I believe the Market Street RR line (steam powered until 1866) connected with the SF&SJ line at 26th and Valencia, not far from a resort known as the Willows.  But the terminus was further on somewhere.  Where was the first depot, and was there a 2nd before Valencia Street and Market?
Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

Note my work address has changed to:
My personal address remains:

Re: SF&SJ loco questions

There were two "Pacific"s in the CP-SP system: The CPRR's Mason, and the SF&SJ's Norris. The CP's "Pacific" never went to the SF&SJ or SP as Kneiss and Best apparently thought.

Arnold (in particular) there will need be a major revision of the Compendium/Companion in regard to the chronologies of the early SP locos. Larry Mullaly has straightened out a lot of the SF&SJ/SP/CP transitions. It turns out there just was not any of this going back and forth with locomotives as has been constructed in the past to make sense of the information that was available. Larry has gone through fairly frequent commissioners reports and company financial records at Stanford and has developed a much clearer (and cleaner) picture of what was going on. He has cast a light in a long-dark enginehouse.

SP 2-7 came from the SF&SJ upon merger into the SP in October 1870.
SP 8-11 came from the Santa Clara & Pajaro Valley upon merger into the SP in October 1870.
SP 1 came from CP 3 in February 1871. WERE THESE ENGINES EVEN NUMBERED BEFORE 1871?
SP 12 came from CP 97 in April 1871.
SP 13 came from CP 36 in April 1871.
SP 14 came from CP 117 in June 1872.
SP 15-19 came from CP 99, 55, 93, 135, and 142 (respectively) in June 1873.

None of these engines went back to the CP. All were still SP when numbered into the system-wide roster of 1891.

The mysteries of the SP 18 have been pretty much set to rest with Larry's discovery that the SP changed the builder of that locomotive from Rhode Island to Schenectady and then to McKay & Aldus over the course of 1876 and 1877. This slight of hand was accomplished with the flourish of a pen–probably without anyone familiar with the locomotive even being aware. When this clerical modification worked itself into the 1891 roster, the whole system ended up with one more McKay locomotive than was ever shipped to California, and Best, Diebert, Strapac, Wyatt, and myself all lost sleep trying to figure out what in the world was going on. Now, in fact, the locomotive was modified between 1884 and 1891, perhaps ending up as a 4-4-2T like the CP 40-43 group--but without a photo or better documentation, we just don't know.

None of this modifies my previous question about the renaming of those three SF&SJ engines. It is just offered as background to help exlain what you are seeing in Best and D&S.


Re: SF&SJ loco questions

The SF&SJ "Pacific" and the Central Pacific "Pacific" are two completely different locomotives.  My books are still boxed from my move, so I can't check further, except to confirm that the CP "Pacific" (#2, completed in Sept 1863 then shipped around the Horn) was a Mason, and that SF&SJ only ordered one Mason, #11 "Menlo Park", in 1870.  These are based on xerox copies of the Mason order sheets for the respective locomotives.
Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

Note my work address has changed to:
My personal address remains:

Re: SF&SJ loco questions

Gerald M. Best gave a roster for the SF&SJ in The Western Railroader in 1954, issue 173.  There he lists #3 as a Mason engine, 1863, the "Pacific" and ex-SP 2.   And then "returned to SP".    This conflicts with Wendell's presumably more accurate history.    Arnold Menke

Re: SF&SJ loco questions

The initial choice of SF&SJ names is pretty predicatable and reflects a common pattern of naming engines for individuals supporting the enterprise. Nothing big here.

The second choice of names is curious, but the scattershot practice seems also used on the renamed California Central engines, so maybe there was a weird enui going on at the time. In contrast, the Sac Valley is very predictable and fits into established engine naming patterns.

Pacific and San Mateo are place names, one associated with the region and larger transcon concept, the other a specific community on the line. No big deal. Comanche is the wild card, being romantic, dangerous and non regional. A name like this usually would have some pertinant value, similar to the CC's Garibaldi, named for the then popular hero of Italian unification. Garibaldi was all over the news in 1859 and 60, and Comanche might draw from similar newsworthyness - the Indian Wars were getting hard and fierce in '64-'65.

Typically engines named on groups, whether in an order for new engines or during a renaming, tended to be named in similar, associative ways - series names. The UPRY-ED had a Comanche, also an Osage, Kaw and Piute, named according to the contractor's practice of naming engines for native Americans. The CC's original names Northerner, Southerner, etc., also reflect this, as do the CP's Atlantic and Pacific (destination oceans), Juno, Sultana and Diana (fabulous women), Rambler, Rover, Rusher, etc. The diversity of names on the CP reflects the requirements of a large roster, but it does adhere reasonably well to series names within the groups.

If the SF&SJ engines were renamed all at once, it would have been typical for them to gain new series names, but they dont, and the larger thematic concept of Pacific compared to the local San Mateo is then thrown completely off by Comanche. And why were they renamed anyway? It would be logical for the CP to do so, but for the SF&SJ to do this, and on engines named for individuals within its own firm, is curious. Did they drop out of the company structure, or was it politically advisable to lay low? This might indicate whether the engines were renamed at the same time, or at different times, which would theoretically be more consistant with the individualistic names.

I'd love to have dropped in on the discussion regarding naming an engine Comanche.


Re: SF&SJ loco questions

Gerald M. Best says (on page 171, Note 2) in his Iron Horses to Promontory that "The Pacific has been erroneously credited to the San Francisco & San Jose Railroad No. 3. It was in continous service on the Central Pacific during its entire life. SF&SJ No. 3 was running on that railroad in October 1863, and was probably a Richard Norris engine, the same as No.1 and 2 of that road.
Does this add to the confusion?

SF&SJ loco questions

As some of you know, I'm slowly working my way through the various CP-world rosters dealing with various unresolved issues that surface along the way. Here is an issue relating to three San Francisco & San Jose locomotives: "T.Dame", "A.H.Houston", and "Chas.McLaughlin", which Kneiss (Bonanza Railroads) made as 3, 4, and 5 respectively (which pattern is repeated in Diebert & Strapac).

Judge Timothy Dame was president of the SF&SJ formed in 1860, while Alexander H. Houston and Charles McLaughlin were the contractors who built the railroad. In 1865 all three were involved in the Western Pacific RR together.

Kneiss said that these engines were renamed "Pacific", "Comanche" and "San Mateo".

I have always assumed these locomotives were renamed when the SF&SJ was taken over by the Huntington-Hopkins-Stanford-Crockers ring in September 1870. These locomotives became SP 3, 4, and 5 in October 1870. However, the roster contained in the 9 February 1866 railroad commissioners' report lists these locomotives by their later names: "Pacific", "Comanche", and "San Mateo". Clearly the names were changed at least four years before the end of the SF&SJ's independence.

Do any of you have any additional information about the chronology of the renaming of these engines?

For what it's worth, Alexander H. Houston was also a contractor on the California Central and died in Honolulu in 1869. Charles B. McLaughlin was general superintendent of the California Stage Company before becoming involved with railroad construction. He was shot and killed in his office in San Francisco in 1883 by Jerome B. Cox. Cox (along with Jackson R. Myers) had been a sub contractor on the WP and had become increasingly exasperated in trying to collect settlement for that work. (This is one of the few CPRR-world murders I have become aware of.) I really know nothing about Dame (but you've got to wonder what guys called his daughter/s).

As revealed by the February 1866 roster (cited above), the renaming of the locomotives occurred well before the CP took over the WP in June 1867.