Friday, March 04, 2005

Wood to Coal Chronology


I am trying to understand why the Western Pacific "Industry" was operating between Verdi/Crystal Springs and Reno in January 1869 as Dale Darney recently reported. I have garnered the following sequence of events from mostly secondary sources:

Gerald Best notes that eight Western Pacific engines (including, we assume, the “Industry”) were shipped to Sacramento in "Winter 1867" and "in January 1868 were reported stored in the dead-line at Sacramento." (Iron Horses to Promontory, p. 175)

David Bain (Empire Express, p. 362) indicates, that the first engine shipped over the Sierra's by ox sled in July 1867 was a Western Pacific, suggesting that at least one of the 8 WP engines had been transported to Sacramento earlier than "Winter 1867."

Regular traffic did not begin over the Sierras until June 15, 1867 and one or more of the WP engines were apparently pressed into service on this route. It is in this context that we learn that the WP "Industry," running between Truckee and Reno, was reported in January 1868 as burning Crystal Peak coal.

There is now a break in the story. On September 6, 1869 the first Central Pacific train traveling mostly over Western Pacific tracks reaches the San Francisco Bay at Alameda. Assumedly, conversion to coal was underway at this time or soon thereafter.

By the beginning of 1870 all the locomotives of the Western Pacific are reported by AN Towne as burning (Corral Hollow/Mt. Diablo) coal. He also reports that the CP has initiated coal burning with a switch engine at Ogden and is about to convert to passenger engines.

We do not seem to have any confirmation that the "Industry" was among the engines running between Stockton and Oakland, however. For all we know it may still have been operating on the Sierra route.

In 1870 we have a report that the Industry has been sent east to work in a coal burning capacity between Toano and Promontory. (I can't recall where this information comes from.)

Based on Dale's most recent information, I concur [with Wendell] that the above chronology is consistent with the Joslyn report that the "Industry" was a first engine for coal burning, if not "in the west" at least on the Central Pacific.

Larry Mullaly

RE: coal

Dale, those are interesting pieces. If my recollection for the previous discussion is correct, that gives "Industry" a load of coal earlier than we've previously noted–tending to confirm Joslyn's statement that it was the CP's first coal burner.