Saturday, February 19, 2005

"Transcontinental Railroad" vs. "Pacific Railroad"

When did the terminology "Transcontinental Railroad" replace "Pacific Railroad" – how and why did this come about?

Re: CP loco fuel

I'll answer part of my own question about Stevens: I find a 2 September 1870 Union note (again from Best) that Stevens had just been made General Master Mechanic (not General Super of Motive Power as was Perkins).

This was just before the attempt to measure fuel consumption on the CP over the hill.

So, my question remains, was Stevens down on the WP before going to the CP?


Knife awarded for faithful service

Thanks for your question about the decorated knife.

Many "transcontinental railroad" novelty commemorative items have manufactured over the years.

What is now called the "transcontinental railroad" was called the "Pacific Railroad" in the 19th century.

One "Straight Razor Manufacturers" website lists: M. PRICE, San Francisco, CA, ca. 1856 - 1889.

There is a post "M Price Bowie Knife" that matches your description, that indicates that these are modern items made by Collins and Co., not like a real Model 1887 Hospital Corps Knife, but rather a modern fake with modern decorations, made to appeal to modern buyers, with no actual connection to Michael Price.

Knife Reproduction Recognition

Book: "Knifemakers of Old San Francisco" by Bernard R. Levine

Knife Links

On Feb 20, 2005, at 12:03 AM, wrote:

Hello My name is Gary Wolfer and I have purchased at auction a knife that has writing on both sides of the blade and carvings like scrimshaw of both engines, the Jupiter x and the No. 119 and above them Transcontinental Railroad and below them Promontory Summit Utah. At the base of the blade is the manufacturers name M. Price San Francisco.On the other side it says Awarded For Faithful Service and under that May God Continue the Unity of our Country on this Railroad unites the two Great Oceans of the world.  It is a large Knife with brass and wood handle and appears to be hand made. Have you ever heard of such a knife?

I couldn’t be so lucky. Could you return my e-mail and let me know whether or not it could be from that time.

Thanks Gary A. Wolfer

CP loco fuel

Here is note and question relating (perhaps) to the previous discussion of early use of coal.

We saw before that coal was apparently being tried first on the WP–as early as the fall of 1869.

Today I ran across a Gerry Best note (that's almost a stanza!) that "a car loaded with wood was placed behind each locomotive sent over the hill today to test and measure the amount consumed", from the Union of 17 September 1870.

This was two months after E.F. Perkins departed his post as general superintendent of motive power.

Question for Kyle (or anyone else with the info): when did A.J. Stevens assume that position?

Did Stevens come from the WP (or was that his brother?).


Railroad Stationery


I have several railroads' stationery from the 1920's - 1940's from trips taken by my grandfather.  

Included in my collection are some from the S.F. Overland Limited, the Columbine, the Portland Rose, The Los Angeles Limited and others.  

Is there a society or collector's club that may have interest in these items?  

Thom McCarthy
South Jordan, UT

Re: Lower Cascade Bridge

It was precisely because milepost assignments change over thime that I started from a known nearby reference point - Cisco - and calculated milage from there when using several sources from different years. Of course track realignments can effect even that, but in that particular area I think such adjustments have been pretty nominal - certainly for the purpose of identifying major features such as stations and bridges. Lynn also pointed out some 19th and early 20th century maps and station plats in the California State Railroad Museum collection, available through the CSRM Library (1-5 pm, Tuesday - Saturday).


Note my NEW address of

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum

Re: Lower Cascade Bridge

Be careful in using mileposts of any era on SP Lines. In 1869 Milepost "Zero" was at Sacramento. By 1874 mileposts were measured from San Francisco freight depot at 4th street via Niles and Stockton. By 1887 distances were measured from SF 4th street via Antioch to Sacramento. In 1890 they were measured from SF via Suisun to Sacramento. In the 1901-1904 period of line changes the distances east of Reno were measured via Hazen and in 1912 Milepost "0" was made the apron on the Ferry slip in San Francisco. I gave the CSRM an almost complete set of station books from 1879 to 1973 which could be of some help. Lynn

Re: Lower Cascade Bridge

In Kraus' book he lists the same milepost for Cascade (station) and Upper Cascade Bridge.


Note my NEW address of

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum


Thank you for your reply. Every little bit of information helps.

I viewed many old photos at the Railroad Museum and compared them to my own–leaving me somewhat uncertain. The mileages shown on the Hart photos put the two bridges too far apart. That further confused me. But from all the responses I got to my query, and from the USGS topo (Soda Springs 7.5 min), it seems logical to conclude that Upper Cascade has to refer to the Kidd Lake drainage and Lower Cascade is Lower Cascade.

The location of the "Cascade Station" is my next objective. Signor mentions it several times in Donner Pass..., so maybe a little research in the Truckee Republican will clarify it's location.

Thanks again for your help.

Marilou West Ficklin

Re: Lower Cascade Bridge

For Bridges, see the "Report of the Special Commissioners upon the Central Pacific Railroad of California."
R. S. Williamson, Bvt. Lieut. Col. U.S.A., Major of Engineers, et. al., February 27, 1869.
Bridges are listed at page 8 of this report.

The 1897 USGS topo map is not very detailed.

Also see the A.A. Hart stereoviews of these two bridges:
#249 (96mi) "Lower Cascade Bridge, above Cisco."
#251 (98mi) "Upper Cascade Bridge, above Cisco."
(mileages listed on Hart Stereoviews are East from Sacramento)