Monday, January 30, 2006

Contact us

Contact us by sending an e-mail or question to the CPRR Museum.

What is the telephone number of the CPRR Museum?
The CPRR Museum does not have sufficient staff to offer telephone support, so instead of using the phone, please contact us by e-mail.

DVD or video?

From: "Alice Jackson"

Can you point me to any DVDs or VCR videos with historical information about the building of the railroad, or use of immigrants to build it?

Thank you very much.

—Alice Jackson

Question: CPRR Land Grants in L.A. County

From: "Ralph Shaffer"

Can you direct me to a map or volume that is very specific about the location of Central Pacific (Southern Pacific) land grant holdings within Los Angeles county? I need to know townships and sections as precisely as possible in order to pinpoint the location of a private holding that was apparently purchased from the R.R. in the late 1870s or early 1880s in what would now be the city limits of the city of Los Angeles.

The map on your website shows a wide swath of land in LA county that was such a land grant, but it doesn't show townships and sections.

I am specifically interested in RR land in-

Sec. 5, Township One South, Range 14 West of the San Bernardino Meridian, in which it appears the SPRR [CPRR?] may have held a diamond shaped parcel in the center of the section, in the vicinity of what would be Nichols Canyon today.

Where can I find a map, or a written description, verifying that the railroad did hold that particular parcel, and are there record books indicating when and to whom the parcel was sold? (probably in the late 1870s or early 1880s.)

Many thanks.

Ralph E. Shaffer
Professor emeritus, HIstory
Cal Poly Pomona

Friday, January 27, 2006

Question about Sacramento Railyards


Can you direct me to a concise history of the Central Pacific railyards in Sacramento? I have just spent two hours looking at all of the logical websites for CPRR history. I can find a wealth of information about the construction, but nothing about the railyards themselves.

—Tod Bedrosian

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Water for Steam Engines

From: "Carol Beitz"

How did the early American railroad companies supply water for steam engines?

Schenectady CP Locomotive 1061


We recently found a photograph of a Baldwin [sic] CP locomotive 1061 in files at Golden Spike National Historic Site. It also has several crew members in front of it. While looking up information about this particular locomotive, I came across another photo that you have on your website. Because of this, I thought I would contact you to see what kind of information you have regarding the 1061 locomotive. Could you provide me with any information? When it was produced? Used? Any significance? Etc...

—Jennifer L. Clemetson, Golden Spike NHS

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Scripophily Question - Collecting Railroad Bonds

From: "Leslie H Trevena"

1. Are there any Railway Bonds from 1856 that are worth more than the cost of printing.
2. Were $100 and $500 Railway Bonds issued.
3. If a person were to be in possession of such bonds what might there true value be.
4. Are there any Railway Bonds in existence today that would be worth many millions of dollars.

My reason for asking is, I know of a person claiming to have Railway Bonds from 1856, they state they have an enormous $ value today.

On reading information found on the internet, I have grave doubts as to their claim.

—Leslie Howard

Henry E. Huntington


In 1900 when Southern Pacific President Collis P Huntington died, his nephew, heir and Southern Pacific Vice President Henry E. Huntington, expected to become SP President. The financiers (read bond holders, I believe) behind the railroad passed over Henry and brought in an outsider as SP President. The ticked off Henry then sold the Huntington interestes in SP to H. E. Harriman, and helped facilitate the sales of Stanford and Crocker interestes to Harriman as well. With majority stock control of SP (and with his power on Wall Street), Harriman took over control from the fianciers' choice in 1901 and sent him packing.

Meanwhile, Henry Huntington took his profits and turned his dabbling in Southern California electric railroading into a major investment – called Pacific Electric.

In such ways is history made.

—Kyle Wyatt

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

Saturday, January 21, 2006

SP Co. McKeen motor car photo wanted


I'm looking for information and a photo of one of the SPCo. McKeen motor cars running in passenger service in the 1900-1920'S on the old SF MAIN LINE. I think I have seen an old photo a number years ago in the Lorin Sillmen collection.


McKeen #29

Friday, January 20, 2006

UPRR song "We're a Great Big Rolling Railroad ... "

From: "JoBeth Dever"

During the 1970's, the Union Pacific Railroad had a TV commercial showing a group of UP workers singing a song entitled "We're a Great Big Rolling Railroad ... " I have looked through various UP sites on line but I can't find the song. Is there a record of it somewhere?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Rocky River Railroad Bond Coupons, 1883

From: "Mike FLACHBART"

I found these cleaning out my fathers belongings and was unsure what they were. He worked for Norfolk Western.

—Mike Flachbart

Rocky River Railroad Bond Coupons, 1883

CPRR "turned" point spike

Chris Graves has supplied a photograph of one of the extremely rare CPRR "turned" point spikes. He noted that the last order for this type of spike is dated 1872. Spikes with "turned" points, or reversed points, were only used to be driven across the grain of wooden stringers used in open deck wood trestles and bridges on the railroad grade; however they were also used in locomotive and car shops where pits were lined with wooden stringers.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Southern Pacific Depot Colors


The following is a compilation of newspaper reports from 1883 to 1916 I have found that refer to paint colors on SP depots and other buildings, along with additional observations on this subject.

Newspaper articles suggest that gray (sometimes called "slate") was a widely-used standard color for SP depots before the adoption of Colonial Yellow.

Three reports below raise the possibility the gray color was adopted in 1883-1884:

September 25, 1883 The Silver State (Winnemucca, Nevada) - new colors of water tank more pleasing than the somber brown previously used on railroad buildings. [SP water tanks were commonly surrounded by square-sided housings at that time]

August 30, 1884 Kern County Californian (Bakersfield) - "The railroad has adopted a different and nondescript color for their depots and other buildings along the line ... The sides, up to a certain distance from the ground, have been sanded. The cars are, we learn, to be given the same color."

November 18, 1884 Los Angeles Times, dispatch from Ontario dated Nov. 13 - "The new freight shed has just been painted and is a wonderful improvement on the average S.P.R.R. houses. The orthodox dingy red of railroad fame has given place in this instance to an elegant stone color handsomely trimmed and sanded."

The following citation indicates the SP painted depots and other right of way buildings in California gray up to 1905:

July 27, 1905 Inyo Register (Bishop) (3:3) - "The Southern Pacific depot at Laws, together with the agent’s house and all the warehouses, have been repainted. The outside is a slate color and the roofs are red. The change greatly improves the looks of the buildings, and it is reported that all of the company buildings on the line will be painted a uniform color."

Some articles from 1906 to 1909 that reported SP depots were being painted in a new yellow scheme also mentioned the previous gray color:

February 23, 1906 Solano County Republican (Suisun) (p.3), originally from the Benecia Herald – "The Southern Pacific Railroad Company is giving its buildings all along the line a new coat of paint. The color resembles the poppy, California’s state flower, and the result is surely a contrast for the better with the former dull lead color. The ferry slip and depot present a cheerful appearance."

September 27, 1907 The Gridley Herald – "The Southern Pacific painting gang under the direction of Foreman Jenks, is giving the depot of that company in this place a coat of color. The color scheme is radically different from that heretofore pursued by the railroad company in decorating and preserving their buildings. In the past the property of the company had been painted a dingy shade of slate or brown, but this time the tint is of a yellow shade and much lighter than formerly."

January 30, 1909 The Livermore Herald (2:1) – "The Southern Pacific painting crew has been at work this week repainting the depot. The color has been changed from gray to yellow."

December 17, 1909 The Folsom Telegraph (1:4) – "The Southern Pacific Company has a crew of painters here painting the depot building. The color has been changed from the familiar slate to a bright yellow."

First-hand inspections I’ve made of the following depots revealed that the first layer of paint on the walls was gray (depot built dates in parenthesis):

Bena (1891)
Fillmore (1887)
Santa Paula (1887)
Montalvo (1887)
San Luis Obispo freight house (1894)

Montalvo is interesting in that the sand-coated band on the walls was painted a noticeably darker gray than the walls above the band. For Fillmore, I could not see any difference between the gray of the sand-coated band and the walls above.

SP tool houses preserved by the South Coast Historical Railroad Society Museum in Santa Clara, California and the Southern Oregon Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society in Medford, Oregon also apparently had gray paint for the first layer on their walls.

July 21, 1906 Meced Express – "The Espee had developed a yellow streak, or rather the local depot of that corporation had donned a coat of bright yellow, and no longer will the old familiar green, which has been the distinguishing feature of all Southern Pacific buildings, meet the eye." [the Merced depot had been built in 1900]

News articles indicate the Southern Pacific began painting depots Colonial Yellow with brown trim in 1903 in Nevada and in 1906 in California. I have never found a description of an SP depot painted yellow prior to these years. It appears that the SP made a major effort in 1906-1907 to repaint depots in California in the new scheme.

1903-1904 Nevada newspapers references:

June 5, 1903 Nevada State Herald (Wells) – "The railroad painters have finished painting the S.P. depot here. The new color, a light yellow, with black and brown trimmings, greatly improves the appearance of the property."

October 8, 1903 Central Nevadan (Battle Mountain) – "The S.P. painters and carpenters are in town. The painters have painted the depot yellow."

October 22, 1903 Central Nevadan – "The S.P. painters have painted the depot, section house and other company buildings yellow which gives them quite an attractive appearance."

May 20, 1904 Weekly Independent (Elko) (3:3) – "Work on the depot building and grounds took a lively spurt this morning. A crew of painters arrived and soon had the roof painted red and then went to work on the outside and inside. ... The carpenters are nearly through with their part of the work and it will not be many days before Elko will have one of the best depot buildings in the State. It will be painted two shades of yellow which will give it a handsome appearence and make it ornamental as well as useful."

The Nevada depot paintings in 1903-1904 by the Southern Pacific preceeded the adoption in late 1904 of the first joint SP-UP common standards. What influence UP practice had on the SP in regards to paint colors for buildings prior to the joint standards, I don’t know.

1906-1907 California newspaper references:

March 24, 1906 The Dixon Tribune – "The depot premises have changed their appearance and are now looming up in the glory of a new covering of yellow and orange paint, a coloring that had been adopted throughout this division."

One wonders if the writer of the above citiation was misinterpreting the colors of a two-tone yellow scheme or if in fact orange was a color used on the Dixon depot. The reference in the Solano County Republican of Feb. 23, 1906 (previously referred to in the section about gray paint) stated that the new color of the Benecia depot "resembles the poppy," which brings to mind an orange color.

June 1, 1906 Solano County Republican (Suisun) – "The Southern Pacific Company is having many notable improvements about the local railway yards. All the buildings about the yards are being newly painted in a shade of yellow, the new color adopted by the company for all buildings along its lines, including depot buildings."

July 21, 1906 Meced Express – "The Espee had developed a yellow streak, or rather the local depot of that corporation had donned a coat of bright yellow..."

April 26, 1907 Lindsey Gazette (1:2) – "The S.P. Co. has a crew of painters at work on the depot at this place. A bright cream color is being applied to the outside and the inside of the building is also to be painted."

April 27, 1907 Galt Weekly Gazette (3:1) – "A gang of painters are embellishing the railway depot and other S.P. Company buildings at this point. Yellow will be the new color of the structures when the job is done."

July 18, 1907 Tulare County Times (Visalia) – "A painting crew is expected to arrive in Visalia shortly to begin the painting of the local S.P. depot. The new color will be buff with light brown trimmings. These are the new colors adopted by the railroad company and which most of the depots in the valley are being painted."

The July 17, 1907 Visalia Delta had a report similar to the above.

August 7, 1907 Truckee Semi-Weekly Republican – " ... the company has repainted all its buildings between Reno and Gold Run the standard colors of yellow and brown trimmings."

September 27, 1907 The Gridley Herald – "The Southern Pacific painting gang under the direction of Foreman Jenks, is giving the depot of that company in this place a coat of color. The color scheme is radically different from that heretofore pursued by the railroad company in decorating and preserving their buildings. In the past the property of the company has been painted a dingy shade of slate or brown, but this time the tint is a yellow shade and much lighter than formerly."

No news reports of depots being painted yellow could be found for 1908. The recession that began in 1907 may have temporarily halted the repainting program. News reports of depot repainting resumed in 1909:

January 30, 1909 The Livermore Herald (2:1) – "The Southern Pacific painting crew has been at work this week repainting the depot. The color has been changed from gray to yellow."

December 17, 1909 The Folsom Telegraph (1:4) – "The Southen Pacific Company has a crew of painters here painting the depot building. The color has been changed from the familiar slate to a bright yellow."

A review of 1906 and 1907 newspapers for a number of towns in Oregon with SP depots failed to find any mention of depots being repainted yellow, only a reference to this color for a new section camp at Reuben [name changed to Kohler in late 1907 or early 1908]:

July 20, 1906 The Glendale News (3:2) – "A great transformation has taken place at Rueben siding, where the S.P. has built a bunk house, tool shed, boarding house and section house for the convenience of the section men who will have their headquarters at that place instead at Tunnel 5. The buildings are all painted yellow and present a very inviting appearance."

It’s possible that the repainting of depots to yellow may have occured later in Oregon than in California.

Two newpaper accounts tell of gray depots having "red" roofs. The accounts suggest that red – or perhaps mineral red or boxcar red – was a standard roof color for gray depots:

April 5, 1894 Berkeley Herald – "The depot at Berkeley station opposite the Herald office received its regulation coat of red paint on the roof today."

The Berkeley Herald in the previous week (March 29) reported that painters have been painting all the depots along the line from Sixteenth Street to Berkeley.

July 27, 1905 Inyo Register (3:3) – "The Southern Pacific depot at Laws, together with the agent’s house and all the warehouses, have been repainted. The outside is a slate color and the roofs are red. The change greatly improves the looks of the buildings, and it is reported that all of the company buildings on the line will be painted a uniform color."

When the SP started introduced Colonial Yellow for the wall color, roofs apparently continued to be painted red:

May 20, 1904 Weekly Independent (Elko, Nevada) (3:3) – "Work on the depot building and grounds took a lively spurt this morning. A crew of painters arrived and soon had the roof painted red..." [see the section under 1903-1904 Nevada newspapers for remainder of wording]

August 8, 1907 Tulare County Times (Visalia) (p. 2) – red paint for roof of the Visalia SP depot.

July 12, 1912 The Morning Echo (Bakersfield) – "The Southern Pacific Company has built and is now completing a large comodious station at McFarland. ...The conventional red roof, colonial yellow body and light brown trimmings describe the outside painting; and a six-foot belt has been sanded around the base of the outside."

February 25, 1916 Mojave Press – "The Southern Pacific Depot and Harvey House is being painted in regulation SP buff and the roof will be red."

In addition, March 1910 SP drawings for a "Greek Cross"-style shelter shed call for the color "Metallic" for the roof. Bill Wullenjohn has concluded from the paint specification number in the drawings that Metallic was a boxcar red color.

I have no information about when Moss Green was adopted as the standard roof color on the SP.

—John Sweetser

Monday, January 16, 2006

"On down brakes"

... from the good old days ...

I might have told you when I hired out in May 1955, we still had some 1904 and 1905 men working. The oldest "brakies" on the "seni" lists said, necessarily, the cars with "the Westinghouse" were all on the head end of a freight train and those withou air brakes were on the rear end. Some freight trains were mostly without operable air brakes. Thus, the engineer would whistle "down brakes" (o o o o o o o o) when he wanted to stop, say, to head in to a siding for a meet at the end of track authority. The head, swing, and rear men would run along the car tops tightening the staff brakes with their "staffs of ignorance" (brake clubs). Too tight and the car wheels would pick up at low speed and slide flat and "walk" (ker plunk, ker plunk). Too loose and the point would run past the heading-in switch thereby violating track authority for a while, until brakes could be released and the train backed under flag protection, usually by the conductor. While "lapping authority," the head end had to be protected by the "tallow pot," who made a spot fire and, then, left the cab with a flagging kit, because the "brakies" were busy.


[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

Pile Driving Equipment

From: "Larry Mullaly"

In reading accounts of early western railroad construction, my impression is that the work of earth moving and preparation of the roadbed could take weeks to accomplish, whereas rail laying was done quite quickly, often at the rate of a mile or more per day. A question arises about trestle building, which inevitably required the driving of piles. If pile driving depended on railcar-mounted equipment would this not have brought track-laying to a halt every time a watercourse or canyon had to be crossed? The alternative is that pile drivers were brought forward ahead of track laying by wagon – something difficult for me to imagine. Any help with this would be appreciated.


Firearms - Passengers carrying pistols?

From: "Alvaro Escobar"

Were passengers allowed to carry pistols on the trains?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Otto Gas Engine for the 1904 swing bridge at Drawbridge, California


Looking for information on the where abouts of the very old OTTO GAS ENGINE that was stand by power for the 1904 swing bridge located at DRAWBRIDGE, CAL. on the ex. SPC, (ng) main line. This 1904 gas engine was still in place in the 1980's and was told it was going to be saved.


Baldwin color specs for Western Pacific Locomotives, 1866

From: "Jim Wilke"

I recently came across notes from the Baldwin paint data books regarding the 1866 Western Pacific locomotives Santa Clara and San Mateo. They are listed as the 12th and 13th 21-1/2 C class, built in August 1866. They were specified to have red wheels and best passenger finish, with the name on the house (cab) in gold leaf.

A third engine, to be named Stockton, was cancelled. It was to have been the 16th 20 1/2 C class engine and was originally ordered with the same finish.

—Jim Wilke

[Note: Name is not spelled Jim Wilkie.]

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Nevada Trip Planned for June, 2006

From: "Chris Graves"

A trip is being planned for the first week in June, 2006, to cover the old CPRR grade from Wells, Nev. to the Utah State Line. As this is written, we have 6 participants, and would welcome a few more.

To participate in this driving/hiking trip (no hiking required, but some may wish to get more involved in the terrain than do others) you would need, at MINIMUM, at high clearance vehicle; four wheel drive is most helpful, but a two wheel truck most likely would be OK. Those with 4 wheel drive would be expected to haul the two wheelers out of deep sand, should that be needed.

To see what is available to see first hand, go to the webpage "Along the CPRR Old Grade in Nevada."

We will be concentrating on the old grade as it goes through the Pequops, a region of litte rain and no alkalai. This climate makes artifact viewing most interesting, as some of the materials left by the builders are still visable. There are 3 motels in Wells: Motel 6, Super 8, and for those well-heeled, Best Western. Restaurants are fair to middling, with no Five Star steak houses evident on my last visit.

The old grade here is dusty, rough, and chock full of old spikes that seem unusually attracted to rubber tires. A good spare tire is a must; two or three is wise.

For those that would like to obtain relics, there are a few sellers of same in the vicinity.

For more infomation, contact G J Chris Graves at or phone 916 663 3742.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Trains at the George Bush Presidential Library

Trains: Tracks of the Iron Horse, through July 30, 2006

"The Museum at the George Bush Presidential Library undertakes its most ambitious exhibit yet - exploring America's love affair with trains. Visitors can see rare and unique items including the original gold spike that ceremonially completed the first U.S. transcontinental railroad. ... " [More]

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Alazon Nevada photograph wanted

From: "Charlotte Thompson"

I'm wondering if you might be able to help me locate a picture of Alazon Nevada. I have learned that Alazon was identified by the SPRR as 603.6. My mother was raised in Alazon where her father worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad. They later moved to Wells Nevada where my grandfather was the section foreman until the mid 50's at which time he retired. My Mom now lives in Reno and this March she will be celebrating her 80th birthday. ...

—Charlotte Thompson

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Who drove the last spike

From: Deandra Farrell

Who drove in the last spike to complete the railroad and why was he important?

Monday, January 09, 2006

CPRR locomotive "Antelope"


... I'm considering scratchbuilding a S scale model [of the CPRR locomotive Antelope], anyone I could contact to obtain more info on this locomotive? Driver size would help in scaling dimensions. ...

—Chip Bates

SF&SJRR old stone culverts


I would like to locate some information (history) on the old stone culverts found a number of years ago along the right of way of the SAN FRANCISCO & SAN JOSE RR up in SF ?....


Ralph Claudios Keyes, Telegrapher

From: "Keyes, Kenneth E."

Ralph Claudios Keyes was a telegrapher for the railroad back in the late 1800's. The town of Keyes, California was named after him because he was the only person that lived and worked there. Please let me know about him.

—Kenneth E. Keyes

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Buddha Head figurines at Cape Horn


I'm ... writing ... to inquire about historic artifacts that were recently unearthed in the Cape Horn area. These artifacts are: NUMEROUS (hundreds?) Buddha Head figurines all ranging in size from a dime to a silver dollar. These Buddha heads were obviously poured from original carved castings, the material is extremely dense and polished and has the consistency and finish of fine porcelain or polished ivory. There are several hundred artifacts most of them Buddhas, but also there were other figures approximately the same size, these other figures included porcelain "seashell shapes", conical shapes, "button shapes" with colored enamel overlays including red, blue and emerald green.

We are attempting to identify, date and determine their origin and what these pieces were used for. It is speculated that they were used by the chinese for gambling since they were not allowed to possess gold?

No one has been able to identify them or even show other examples of like pieces in the Chinese camps during the gold rush era.

ALL of these pieces were found very near the Cape Horn area and would be very interested in any information or help that you might provide in further investigating or identifying these very old and historic artifacts. ...

Here are a couple of photos of the pieces that I have. So far I have identified approximately 8 different unique pieces. Each of these pieces is complete and unbroken (not part of a larger piece), except the "half" Buddha face piece in the picture which represents the largest shape of the "set." The one that is next to the "1" is a complete piece and is the largest of the pieces.

The backside of each piece clearly indicates that these pieces were "cast" or poured from porcelain or a similar very dense hard material. ... Out of the several hundred pieces I've looked at, it appears that that there are dozens of "original" molds for each shape.

In my opinion, it appears that these may have been used by the Chinese as "gambling money" or for trading ... the questions i have though is ...

1) Origin: Were they cast here or in China. How old are they?
2) Did other Chinese camps in the gold country use these same pieces or were they exclusive to the Cape Horn camps / area?
3) Historical significance?
4) Are there others out there?
5) Value?
6) The Chinese buddhas were historically the "fatter, happier Buddha" – Is it possible that these are Japanese? Cambodian? (My guess is that they must be Chinese because of their locale.)

—Jim Bowers, Colfax, California

Buddha at Cape Horn.

Buddha at Cape Horn.

Buddha at Cape Horn.

1870 Rocklin roundhouse


Check out the O'Sullivan USGS photo of the CP Rocklin roundhouse (mislabeled UP) in 1870.


Timothy O'Sullivan photograph of the Central Pacific Railroad Roundhouse at Rocklin, California.  Courtesy USGS.
Timothy O'Sullivan photograph of the Central Pacific Railroad Roundhouse at Rocklin, California.
Courtesy USGS.

Colorized view of the Rogers-built Buffalo No. 82 at Rocklin Roundhouse in 1870. Courtesy of Jim Wilke.
Rogers-built Buffalo No. 82 at Rocklin Roundhouse in 1870.
Colorized detail of above photo courtesy of Jim Wilke, see comment, below.

SP Pay Car Steamcar


Thought you all would be interested in the "pay car" photo – which I believe is actually taken while it was on the Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Company.

SP Pay Car Steamcar

SP Pay Car Steamcar


Wow - what a great photo - one I have never seen before. But I know the steam car well. With you permission, I'd like to share it with the CPRR Museum discussion group.

In brief, I'd guess that this photo was taken on the Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Company arond the turn of the century after the car had been taken out of service. Note there is no pump or injector connected to the check valve on the boiler, and the pilot is missing. The clothing of the men supports this dating. Attached is a photo taken slightly earlier on the Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Company, but also after it was out of service. Note in this photo it has its pilot, but the pump or injector is also missing. Also attached is a low resolution copy of Fredric Shaw's drawing of the steam car.

Much of the information you were sent is inaccurate. Following is a brief summary of what the car actually is,

In 1865 Vulcan Iron Works in San Francisco built a 2-2-0 mechanism that was used in a steam car (the car body believed to have been built by Henry Casebolt). This was the Napa Valley RR steam car "Napa". In 1867 a second Napa Valley steam car named "Calistoga" was built by Vulcan and (we think) Casebolt. In 1869 the California Pacific took over the Napa Valley RR, and the steam cars came under that ownership. Fairly quickly the "Calistoga" was sold to the Vaca Valley RR (later reorganized as the Vaca Valley & Clear Lake). In 1875 it was burned in an engine house fire destroying the car body, and was rebuilt in the Central Pacific Sacramento Shops (under A. J. Stevens, Central Pacific Master Mechanic) as a 2-2-0 locomotive with tender. The steam car "Napa" (which may have received the informal nickname "Flea" on the California Pacific) served various functions on the California Pacific including possibly as the pay train. About 1874 the steam car was sold to the Visalia RR as their first motive power (and only power until 1877 when the Baldwin 2-4-4T arrived). Later it may have served in the construction of the Visalia & Tulare, although this is not fully confirmed. Sometime in this period it was also rebuilt in the Central Pacific Sacramento Shops (again under A. J. Stevens). In the late 1880s the steam car went to the San Joaquin Valley Coal Company. An early 1890s account by its engineer appears to be the source of the mis-information that it operated on the Market Street RR in San Francisco. In 1896, several years after the San Joaquin Valley Coal Company closed down, the steam car was sold to the Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Company near Truckee where it was #4 (1st). Retired around the turn of the century, it was eventually stored in a meadow that burned in a grass fire, destroying the car body. The 2-2-0 locomotive portion remained derilict for several years until it was confused with the former Central Pacific #4 "T. D. Judah" (a 4-2-4T, rebult by Central Pacific as a 4-2-2 tender engine). the little Vulcan 2-2-0 was shipped to Sacramento for preservation. When it was realized that it was not, in fact, the "Judah", it was left in a back area of the Shops, and reportedly eventually buried in fill. It may still be there, and we have hopes we might find it during the HazMat remediation now going on at the Shops.

I am familiar with the Market Street RR steam cars as well. All of them had the locomotive mechanism completely enclosed within the car body, and none of them had lead trucks. This steam car clearly is not one of them.

Thanks very much for sharing the photo.

—Kyle Wyatt, Curator of History & Technology, California State Railroad Museum

In a message dated 1/7/2006 10:35:27 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, SP Flimsie writes:

Hi Ken, Here's the photo I posted on last week. It isn't a very good photo, but I found it interesting. I asked for information and I received this reply from John Sweetser. I'd like to hear of anything you have to add or correct. I will place all information in our chapter archives.

—Tony Johnson, Southern Oregon Chapter, NRHS

From: John Sweetser

If one believes 1898 and 1899 articles in the Fresno Democrat, then this engine/car combination was indeed a pay car.

From the link provided by Southern-Pacific-fan, I found an article "When Steam Ran on the Streets of San Francisco Part II" that apparently tells of the origin of this locomotive.

The article, on Joe Thompson's "The Cable Car Home Page" and originally in the Jan/Feb 2001 issue of Live Steam magazine (authors Walter Rice & Emiliano Echeverria), states that Market Street Railroad engine No. 4 was built in 186l by Albion Foundary in San Francisco and used on the Market Street Railroad until 1867.

Then according to various newspaper articles I've found, the engine subsequently was:

Operated by the Central Pacific. Exact years operated not known.

Operated by the Visalia Railroad from 1874 to 1877.

Operated by the San Joaquin Valley Coal Mining Company between Coalinga and the company's mine in Coalmine Canyon from 1889 to 1893.

To the Sierra Lumber Company in late December 1899 or Janaury 1900.

Here are the articles about its Central Pacific use:

Dec. 1, 1898 Tulare County Times, originally from the Fresno Democrat – "The old locomotive was in active service in the days of the construction of the Central Pacific eastward from Sacramento...The first use to which it was put to having been that of a pay-car. Millions upon millions of dollars have been dispersed through the window of the caboose attachment to the locomotive."

Then the article quoted two somewhat different recollections of the engine:

SP car inspector S.E. Johnson: "That old mill ... is the old Stanford pay-car No. 1. She's a Whitney engine, made in New York for the C.P. and was cent around Cape Horn to San Francisco in 1865."

The second sentence above is apparently incorrect based on the article about the Market Street Railroad in Live Steam that indicated the locomotive was built in San Francisco.

Johnson continued: "The car is in two compartments - one nearest the tender for the private quarters of the paymaster and the other at the rear end for the pay office. She was numbered 1 and became to be known to every railroad man as Pay Car No. 1 - the "Old Stanford." She was run for four years or more over the Central Pacific line from Sacramento to Virginia City, on the western division."

CP No. 1, the Governor Stanford, however, is widely considered to be totally different locomotive.

Johnson's continued: "Then after awhile she was put on mixed passenger and freight business on one of the branch roads running out of Sacramento. I'm pretty sure it was Redding. No change was ever made in her appearance , and she was the same old combination that she is today, with the front end of the caboose covering the tender and the engineer's box...

"After running awhile to Redding she was transferred or laid up until about nine years ago, when 'Old Stanford No. 1' was bought by the San Joaquin Valley Coal Mining Company ... On one side of the caboose ... you can yet make out the letters and figures:


Johnson made no mention of the engine being used on the Visalia Railroad but the next person quoted in the newspaper article did tell of this:

"Why yes, I know of that old engine – 'Old Betsy' – and I have ridden behind her many a time when I was a kid," declared Mart Thomas, the pressman. "I remember her sometime in the 70's when she was run on the Market Street extension in San Francisco. The steam line used to run from the lower end of Market street ... out Market street to Hays park ...

"I was in Visalia when the old engine was brought there and when she was nicknamed 'Betsy.' She was put on the seven-mile branch road from Visalia to Goshen [the Visalia Railroad].

"I remember when she was bought in Visalia for the coal mine where J.B. O'Conner was engineer of her ..."

An article in the Dec. 16, 1899 Hanford Daily Journal that was reprinted from the previous day's issue of the Fresno Democrat about refurbishing the locomotive for the Sierra Lumber company stated the engine "ran a long time on the Sacramento division, and then did switch work in the yards at the capital city. The article ended with: "The Southern Pacific employes want to give "Old Stanford" a good send off at parting, as the cab at the rear of the engine was the old time pay car – the first ever run from Lathrop southward through the valley, when Fresno was but a village..."

It is possible the Fresno Democrat's claim that the engine was the old pay car may be based just on car inspector Johnson's statements that were reprinted in the Dec. 1, 1898 Tulare County Times. It is evident that Johnson made a number of misstatements. The photo posted by Tony Johnson, though, may corroborate the claim the engine served as a pay car. I am bothered by the fact that I haven't seen any mention of this engine in any reference books about CP/SP locomotives, however.

The engine arrived on the Visalia Railroad in July 1874 (reported in the July 25 Tulare Times). The Dec. 28, 1876 Iron Age (a Visalia newspaper) reported that a new locomotive was being manufactured to replace it. Gerald Best in issue 259 of The Western Railroader (the page with Visalia Railroad locomotive roster) told of the engine's use on the Visalia Railroad and the San Joaquin Valley Coal Mining Company but had a different verision of its earlier background:

"The combination engine and car mentioned in the text is the engine "Old Betsy" which later ran on the San Joaquin Valley Coal Mining Company line at Coalinga and ended its days at Hobart Mills. Pictures and drawings appeared in issues 100 and 259 of The Western Railroader. It started life as a 2-2-0 poney engine on the Vaca Valley Railroad and later ran on several Southern Pacific branch lines. It was used to build the Visalia Railroad and apparently used until the engines listed above [two 2-4-4s that were built in 1877] went into service."

The San Joaquin Valley Coal Mine Company railroad was built in 1889 and was a little over three miles long, going northwest from Coalinga in a beeline to the mine in Coalmine Canyon. Besides the coal mine line, the railroad also operated the six miles of the Alcade branch from Coalinga to Alcade for the SP. The engine was used until replaced in March 1893 (reported in the March 10, 1893 Daily Morning Delta of Visalia). For two photos of the engine in the collection of the Coalinga Huron Library District, posted on the web as part of the San Joaquin Valley Digitization Project, go to:

Photo #1 and Photo #2.

The first photo matches the drawing of No. 4 of the Market Street Raiload in the Live Steam article almost exactly except for some minor changes around the engineer's door. Note that the coal mining company's lettering as described by car inspector Johnson can be seen on the side.

Question to Tony Johnson: does the photo you posted show a arched window toward the rear of the car portion? I can't tell from the thumbnail photos I see on Trainorders.

—John Sweetser

Friday, January 06, 2006

Wood or Coal Consumption


... I'd like to know more about how much wood and coal it took to operate steam trains (and ships).
Did we ever reach a point where wood wasn't available?
How much cargo could be pulled by a steam train burning x amount of wood or coal for how many miles?

And now – what are the same figures for diesel engines?

I work for a large shipping company, so I have some idea of what it takes to run ships, but I don't know much about trains and the old steam ships.

—Alice J. Friedemann



Looking for information on the following SPCo. men:


MR. GEORGE B. VON BODEN, Fuel expert SPCo.

both men lived in SAN JOSE and worked in San Francisco before 1900.

When I was working steam I remember working on fuel oil burners on locomotives made of brass with the name VON BODEN cast on top

Anyone know the history?


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Question: Belt Buckles

If a person came across a belt buckle that says on the front:
American Express Co.
Wells, Butterfield & Co.

And on the back says:
rare stones, Tiffany, Broadway, New York
reward if returned by hand to 10 Wall Street, New York or 48 South 3rd Street Philadelphia.

My question is can you tell me something about this item? It's worth?

Thanks for your information.

—Jan Farmer

PDF File Viewing

From: "Reimer Dr. Thomas"

Good Morning to you in the Far West! I have been trying several times to download the book by C. Nordhoff, but I always get stuck halfway through the procedure and can’t reach the file.

Could you help me?

Many thanks  

—Thomas Reimer, Wiesbaden/Germany

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

SPCo.'s early day station at CASTROVILLE, California


I am looking for information on SPCo.'s early day station at CASTROVILLE, CAL. I know that at one time there was a roundhouse (4) stalls, and dining house, and iceing station ... also a coal bunker and wood lot ... any information, old photos would be most helpful ...

—Charlie Hopkins

B. & M. R. R. R. Haddam, Kansas in Nebraska

From: "Nyla Stanton"

I have a Brass Wax Sealer with the following "B. & M. R. R. R. Haddam Kan in Neb", (Burlington & Missouri River Railroad). I am seeking information as to why it was listed Haddam, Kan. in Neb. Did B. & M. R. R. R. ever have rails through Kansas and specifically Haddam, Kansas, or why is it stamped this way? If so, what time period might this have been?

—Nyla Stanton

Monday, January 02, 2006

Visiting the Sierra Grade


I'm studying the Donner Pass before I ride Amtrak this March. I have found the information on the CPRR Museum site fascinating. I have also read Donner Pass by John R. Signor, and Nothing Like It In The World by Stephen E Ambrose.

I was wondering about tunnel #6 – the last train went through in 1993. In Ambrose's book he talks about riding through this tunnel on the way to Railfair 99 in Sacramento. He writes about the engineer saying the location of the center shaft. Has the track been replaced? If not what route is now used?

This summer I would like to drive up to take a look. What is the best way in to find tunnel #6, 7, & 8? Also can you recomend any more books?

—Tom Comyns

Track Gauge

From: "John Shoup"

What determined the width of the tracks for the initial trains?


Sunday, January 01, 2006

foist the deadly umbrella on an unwilling people

From: "Chris Graves"

From the Austin, Nevada REVEILLE, 1878:

The extraordinary weather of this morning is dangerous to our institutions.  It threatens to introduce the umbrella in our midst. The last man who ventured on our streets with an umbrella was promptly shot, but his corpse was not mutilated, like that of his predecessor.  Since the completion of the Central Pacific Railroad the manners and customs of an effete Eastern civilization have one by one encroached upon our isolation, driving the old pioneers further and further back into the fastness of the mountains; and now that showers in March threaten to foist the deadly umbrella on an unwilling people, men look into each other's faces and ask: "What IS this consarned country coming to, anyway?"


"I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: 'no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.' —Eleanor Roosevelt

"I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it." —W C Fields

Human Error in Transportation

Jane Lathrop Stanford nurtured women in education

"Area institutions nurtured women in education" by RAYMOND SCHIMMER, © Times Union, 1/1/2006. (Letter)

"the central role Jane Lathrop Stanford played in founding Stanford University, and later in rescuing it from the brink of bankruptcy. ... Stanford began its history as a coeducational facility because Jane Lathrop Stanford insisted that it be so. ... She sponsored free kindergartens and schools in the Palo Alto area, and returned to Albany in the mid-1880s to commission the construction of a nursery annex for the Albany Orphan Asylum. Paul Grondahl, in his new book "Now Is the Time, A History of Parsons Child and Family Center," recounts Mrs. Stanford's involvement in this project ["The Albany Orphan Asylum," where her father, Dyer Lathrop was the first treasurer] from 1886 to 1891, as well as her donation of $100,000 of Central Pacific Railroad stock [and the the Lathrop family mansion] ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

For visitors who brave the season's chilly weather, Golden Spike has a treat

"For visitors who brave the season's chilly weather, Golden Spike has a treat: Steam fills the air at monument's Winter Festival" by Kristen Moulton, © The Salt Lake Tribune, 1/1/2006. (News Article)

"GOLDEN SPIKE NATIONAL MONUMENT – It's a shame most visitors to the place where the East and West rails met in 1869 come in the summer. Those warm-weather folks never get to see the steam of a locomotive, fueled by several cords of wood, 800 gallons of water and cold enough temperatures to make billowy white clouds. That's why the Golden Spike began its Winter Steam Festival, held each New Year's Eve, several years ago. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Size of Original Construction Spikes

From: "Ed Capen"

Could someone tell me the size of the Spikes used on the original Trans Continental railroad. I think I have one – it is a lot smaler than the ones used today.

—Ed Capen

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