Thursday, March 10, 2005

Re: Travel time on the Valley road.

From: "Kevin Bunker"

Hmmm...I'm rather guessing here, but I would wager a buffalo nickle that the SVRR and later Espee trains seldom got over about 15 mph and made most stops en route. With local calls along the way, nearly 2 hours would easily be consumed. An hour and 45 would be just anout right.

My late dad used to complain about how long the McKeens took to cover the run from Folsom Jct. to Sacramento because their family dairy's milk and cream going down to Crystal Creamery could easily go bad if the run was too delayed.


Judah birthdate


California Counties maintained a Great Register of voters that furnished poll workers with a physical description of the voter–birth date, height, complexion, hair color, etc. I have searched the Calif. State Library for the Sacramento County Great Registers, however the Library has no records of such a document for Sacramento prior to 1873.  Thus, we still have no record of Theo. Judah's birth date. Further, the Pioneer File in California does not have a card for Mr. Judah; that document also would have furnished us a birth date. Judah was not in State during the period of the Census in 1860, nor did the City of Folsom maintain a Census of early settlers.  (Judah did serve on a Coroners Jury in 1858, his signature on that Folsom document does not show his age) Should anyone have an idea that would further this search, I'd be pleased to be the 'go-fer' for same.  Chris Graves

Re: Chinese on CP in 1865

Check out the 1865 CP report to Congress on Sacramento History Online.

Interesting presentation on Chinese labor. Kyle

Note my NEW address of

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


A large majority of the white laboring class on the Pacific Coast, find most profitable and congenial employment in mining and agricultural pursuits, than in railroad work. The greater portion of the laborers employed by us are Chinese, who constitute a large element of the population of California. Without them it would be impossible to complete the western portion of this great national enterprise, within the time required by the Acts of Congress.

As a class they are quiet, peaceable, patient, industrious and economical—ready and apt to learn all the different kinds of work required in railroad building. They soon become efficient as white laborers. More prudent and economical, they are contented with less wages. We find them organised into societies for mutual aid and assistance, These societies, that count their numbers by thousands, are conducted by shrewd, intelligent business men, who promptly advise their subordinates where employment can be found on the most favorable terms.

No system similar to slavery, serfdom or peonage prevails among these laborers, Their wages, which are always paid in coin, at the end of each month, are divided among them by their agents, who attend to their business, in proportion to the labor done by each person. These agents are generally American or Chinoee merchants, who furnish them their supplies of food, the value of which they deduct from their monthly pay. We have assurances from loading Chinese merchants, that under the just and liberal policy pursued by the Company, it will be able to procure during the next year, not less than 15,000 laborers. With this large force, the Company will be able to push on the work so as not only to complete it far within the time required by the Acts of Congress, but so as to meet the public impatience.

From: Central Pacific Railroad. Statement made to the President of the United States, and Secretary of the Interior of the Progress of the Work. Leland Stanford, Pres't C. P. R. R. Co. October 10th, 1865. Sacramento: H.S. Crocker & Co., Printers, 92 J Street.

Re: Transcontinental vs Pacific RR

I seem to recall a queston about when the term "transcontinental" came into use. Some of the early 1870s guidebooks were already using the term. Note for instance the map on Sacramento History on line [from Crofutt's Trans-Continental Tourists' Guide].

Kyle Note my NEW address of

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

Re: SP Line Operated by UP

Looking at a 1911 annual SP pass issued to an employee - a conductor (posted on Sacramento History on line) I note it is valid only on "lines between Ashland, Ore., Sparks, Nev., and Rio Grande River, N.M." SP-owned lines operated by UP subsidiaries (and SP Texas lines) are excluded. Also the pass was signed by E. E. Calvin, Vice President and General Manager. (Is this the same guy who was in Oregon earlier?)

It's also not good on suburban (commute) trains in the Bay Area.


Note my NEW address of

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

Travel time on the Valley road.

The trouble (in this regard) with the old timetables published in the newspaper is that they give only departure times, so we really don't know how long it took to go by train from Sacramento to Folsom. In several years of reading the old newspapers I was never able to answer that question.

However, 0n 13 December 1869, Huntington wrote Hopkins that trains should "never make the time between Sacramento and Folsom in less than two hours." Was he being serious? Well, maybe.

One does need to recognize that this was soon after a terrible accident on the Western Pacific, which Huntington blamed on SVRR superintendent Josiah Johnson (who was also at the time also superintendent of the WP). Huntington, and apparently the other CP directors who owned the SVRR, wanted Johnson fired, but Hopkins stood by him (as a Sacramento alderman, Johnson had played a trump card for the CP in their "war" against the SVRR in 1864). Hopkins won, and Johnson retained his post on the SVRR. It was at this juncture that Huntington wrote Hopkins regarding the speed of trains on the SVRR along with the comment that Johnson should never be allowed to run more than one train a day. One gets the sense that Huntington washed his hands of the SVRR at this point, and the comment may have been a bit factious (if not sarcastic), so it may not have been meant or taken as absolute instruction. Still, with various stops along the way, two hours may not be too far out of line for the 22.5 miles.

In the early years of the 20th century the old iron rail was replaced with steel, and it is likely that the McKeen cars covered the distance at a somewhat better clip. Even so, the editor of the Folsom newspaper did make the suggestion that cowcatchers be placed on the back ends of the McKeens to protect them from cattle overtaking the cars from behind.


Re: CP/SP Coal History


The extension of light rail service to Folsom from Sacramento will open to the public in October of this year. This will be four months shy of the 150th birthday of the Sacramento Valley Rail Road, the first in the west, on virtually the same right-of-way. The modern commuter trip is expected to take 40 minutes. How long was the 22 mile trip in 1856?

Bill Anderson