Saturday, December 10, 2005

Question: Wanting BOX HEADLIGHT info

From: "Jon Williams"

... I am most interested in learning about the box-type headlights on the locomotives of the Golden Spike era. I assume that the reflector was of polished tin and that the burner was oil-fueled with a wick. Is this correct? Were any of them kerosene-fueled in the 1860-70s? Please clarify if you can. How well did the headlight illuminate the way at night? Was it effective enough so that the engineer could see the the track ahead and perhaps some countryside to the left and right? Was it considered more risky to operate a locomotive at night in these times? How vigilant was the engineer during long stretches, particularly at night? Would he be on constant lookout? Would the train stop if it hit a large animal (say a bison or elk)? Would it even 'sense' the impact? ...

—J. Williams