Saturday, February 12, 2005

Swung at the spike and missed

It has been claimed that no first hand accounts support the "fable" that "at Promontory Stanford supposedly swung at the spike and missed" and also claimed that "Stanford participated but Durant did not in 'driving' the golden spike."

However, Alexander Toponce's first hand account written about 1919 in his autobiography states that:

"When they came to drive the last spike. Governor Stanford, president of the Central Pacific, took the sledge and the first time he struck he missed the spike and hit the rail.

What a howl went up! Irish, Chinese, Mexicans, and everybody yelled with delight. Everybody slapped everybody else on the back and yelled 'He missed it. Yee.' The engineers blew the whistles and rang their bells. Then Stanford tried it again and tapped the spike and the telegraph operators had fixed their instruments so that the tap was reported in all the offices, east and west, and set bells to tapping in hundreds of towns and cities. W. N. Shilling was one of the telegraph operators.

Then Vice President T. C. Durant of the Union Pacific took up the sledge and he missed the spike the first time. Then everybody slapped everybody else again and yelled, 'He missed it, [too], yow!' "

Any comments?

Unknown: Villard Auto Signal Co. Semaphore


We have a Villard Auto Signal Co. semaphore device that we're unsure of whether it's for an automobile or for a railroad. It's from Rochester, NY, and still has its original red and white chevron paint (see photos). I've heard of manual turn indicators for early automobiles, but so far the car  history association folks haven't been able to identify it. We've even wondered if it were a toy piece for an oversized railroad set. Any ideas? -C

Villard Auto Signal Co. semaphore

Villard Auto Signal Co. semaphore

Re: Good Sites for Old Photos

From: Kevin Bunker kidding! I wonder if the one (see attached) shows the Towle Bros spur below the sheds...or is this some forgotten M of W access track, perhaps for servicing the sheds from below, say, with a fire train (such as spraying the sheds down in summer heat)?  

--Kevin B