Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Which train got to Promontory first?


Which train got to the point first??? Union Pacific no. 119, or Central Pacific's Jupiter??? I have read everything and can not find the answer, please help. Thanks!!!


Monday, May 29, 2006

Railroad titles from Louisiana State University Press

From: "Patrick Reynolds"

Railroads in the Civil War: The Impact of Management on Victory and Defeat by John E. Clark, Jr

By the time of the Civil War, the railroads had advanced to allow the movement of large numbers of troops even though railways had not yet matured into a truly integrated transportation system. Gaps between lines, incompatible track gauges, and other vexing impediments remained in both the North and South. As John E. Clark explains in this compelling study, the skill with which Union and Confederate war leaders met those problems and utilized the rail system to its fullest potential was an essential ingredient for ultimate victory.

ISBN: 0-8071-3015-X Paperpback
ISBN13: 978-0-8071-3015-5
Published 2004
296 pages, 16 Halftones, 6 Maps, 6 x 9, $24.95

Lawyering for the Railroad: Business, Law, and Power in the New South by William G. Thomas

Lawyering for the Railroad provides the first full account of railroad monopoly power, tracing its sources and effects in the southern political economy. Issues touching on railroad development were major components of politics in the days of both Populism and Progressivism, and railroad attorneys-often in their role as lobbyists-were always in the middle of the action. They distributed free passes to legislators, retained the best counsel for their clients, laid out the legal agreements to form monopolies, and instituted practices to ensure quick and favorable settlements for the railroads.

In this intriguing work, William G. Thomas introduces the southern attorneys who represented railroads between 1880 and 1916, closely examining their role in the political economy of the South during the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era, a period in which the region experienced sharp change, explosive growth, and heated political contests. Thomas tells his fascinating story with legal department records from some of the largest interstate railroad companies in the South. With the help of these records, he demonstrates how the railroads tried to use the law and the legal process to mold the southern political economy to their ends and what kind of opposition they faced.

Standing at the crossroads of business, law, and politics, Lawyering for the Railroad gives context, depth, and specificity to what have been cursory glimpses into the shady world of corporate power in the Gilded Age. From small-town lawyers to big-city firms, the story of the railroad attorneys brings into focus the many ways the interstate railroad transformed the South.

ISBN: 0-8071-2504-0 PAPER
ISBN13: 978-0-8071-2504-5
Published 1999
344 pages, 9 halftones, 5 maps, 6 x 9, $26.95

Please visit our website at WWW.LSU.EDU/LSUPRESS
Or call us at 800-861-3477

Interesting Sources

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Driving Spikes


I am wondering exactly how the spikes were driven into the ties. It seems to me that the easiest way would be to have people go through with small hand hammers to get them in place and started and then a second group would come through with the big sledges and drive it home. Can you confirm if this is how they did it, and if not can you please explain the process?


Saturday, May 27, 2006

E-mail from Theodore D. Judah

From: "Ted Judah"

My name is Ted Judah. ... Theodore, my namesake, is my great, great, great, great, great uncle according to Helen Hinckley – TDJ biographer and author of Rails from the West.

... I am interested in learning more about Theodore's brothers Charles and Henry. I am 99% sure I am a direct descendant of Charles, as he is the one that came to California. Can you help in leading me to more information? ...

Ted D. Judah
Petaluma, CA

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

History Channel TV - Transcontinental Railroad program will be broadcast June 7th

From: "Chris Graves"

Apparently there is more then one Transcontinental Railroad in the files of the History Channel, the producer sent this email today, advising of the latest one; filming on this one was completed in April, 2006. The rushes looked good...... gjg

Begin forwarded message:

Subject: Air date

History Channel has the show slated for June 7th. Hope all is well with everyone.

Thanks again for all your help.

Chinese Laborers at Work in a Cut

What is the location of the following picture? Photographer? Is it actually a CPRR construction photo?

"Transcontinental Railroad - Chinese Laborers at work in a cut"

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Pretend Jupiter

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Recent additions to the CPRR Museum

Now online at the CPRR Museum:

Pacific Railroad. Speech of Hon. Leland Stanford in the Constitutional Convention of the State of Nevada, On Wednesday, July 13th, 1864.

The Pacific Railroad. A Defense Against its Enemies, with Report of the Supervisors of Placer County, and Report of Mr. Montanya, Made to the Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco. December, 1864.

Report of the President upon Receipts and Expenses and Estimated Revenue of the Central Pacific Railroad of California. December, 1865.

Central Pacific Railroad Company. Statement made to Senate Committee of the Nevada Legislature. January 14, 1865.

Extracts from the Report of the U.S. Pacific Railway Commission, 1888. By Robt. E. Pattison. [Diatribe]

A Thrilling Tale. Running a Time Table. A Brakeman's Story. Henry & Johnson, Burlington, Vermont, 1873. [Railroad Fiction with fabulous advertisements of quack remedies for all ailments.]

Questions: Building RR, Crocker

From: "Erica Madison"

... I'm doing a research paper on the big four and the pacific railroad in California. I was wondering if you could answer a few questions for me.

1. Why did it take so long for California to get around to building a railroad?

2. Out of the four men why did Charlie Crocker get the job of actually building the railroad? ...


Saturday, May 20, 2006

UPRR Yardmaster Edward P. O'Connor, Green River, Wyoming, 1909

From: "Suzanne Bronder"

Do you have history of Mr. Edward P. O'Connor who was yardmaster for Union Pacific Railroad during 1909 at Green River, Wyoming? How long did he work there?

Mrs. Suzanne Bronder

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Engines met head to head ...


The transcontinental railroad met head to head and then what? Did one of them back up? Which one?

—Kae Soost

Monday, May 15, 2006

'Golden' site lacks a piece of its luster

"'Golden' site lacks a piece of its luster" by Lee Benson, © Deseret Morning News, May 15, 2006. (News Article)

"GOLDEN SPIKE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE — Just one nagging little problem here at the place that has now been officially designated to be Utah's signature on the state's new commemorative quarters. ... The golden spike isn't here. ... Promontory Summit these days ... Everything here is newer than it looks. The ties, the rails, even the steam locomotives — all replicas. The whole place is a movie set, a modern tribute to that historic moment ... It was only fortunate timing that landed the historic event in Utah. A hundred miles to the east and it would have been in Wyoming, a hundred miles to the west, Nevada. ... Small wonder the vast majority of Utahns are of the opinion that the golden spike image should be on our new quarter. But how many of them know the golden spike isn't at the Golden Spike National Historic Site? It was at Promontory only until 1892 [sic], when an art museum opened at a California university and the famous spike was shipped there for display. ... The university? Stanford. ... The spike is still there. It doesn't somehow seem right, does it? It would be like moving the Liberty Bell out of Philadelphia, the Alamo out of Texas, Old Faithful out of Yellowstone, the London Bridge out of London. The golden spike belongs in Utah. And pretty soon, we'll have the quarters to prove it. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Auburn Parlor Activities May 15 - 22

From: "chris graves"

What follows is an email from the Native Sons of the Golden West, Auburn Parlor #59 – Walter Gray, formerly the Grand Vizer of the Calif. State RR Museum, as well as former Archivist of the State of Calif., will be in Auburn May 23, to deliver a speech re: the Central Pacific Rail Road of Calif.
Admission to this address is open to one and all, dinner costs about $5., drinks $1., no cover charge.
The Native Sons Parlor is at the corner of Court and Commercial, in Old Town Auburn.
Should you plan to attend, a good time to arrive is 6 pm.
Walters speeches are ALWAYS worth the short drive to Auburn, you will find him to be warm, direct, honest and humorous, as well as a ... fine historian.

—G J Chris Graves, NewCastle, Cal.

When the hub bub from Grand Parlor dies down and we get back to normal, our speaker for our dinner meeting on Tuesday May 23rd is none other than Walter Gray, the State Director of Cultural Resources talking about California and the Central Pacific Railroad. Many of us have heard Walter in the past and this is one you won't want to miss. Our lead cook for the evening will be Dennis Heimbichner.

Don't forget that this will be our last speaker until September. Our next dinner meeting will be in Coloma on June 27th.

In Friendship, Loyalty, and Charity

Dave Allen
Auburn Parlor #59

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Fuel used by Jupiter and #119 Engines


What type of "fuel" was used by the CP (Jupiter) and the UP Engne No 119 at Prommatory Summit? They both had different stacks ... why?

—Harvey Casey

Friday, May 12, 2006

"A new home for the 'lost' spike"

"A new home for the 'lost' spike" by Dixie Reid, © Sacramento Bee, May 11, 2006. (News Article)

"The most celebrated symbol of the transcontinental railroad is the golden spike that was tapped into a ceremonial railroad tie on May 10, 1869, at Promontory Summit in Utah. At long last, California was united with the rest of the country. The so-called 'last' spike is in a museum at Stanford University. However, there was a second golden spike, unknown to historians – or anyone outside of a Southern California family – for 136 years. Known as the 'lost' spike, it now belongs to the California State Railroad Museum, which will put it on display Saturday for one day only. It will go on permanent display at the museum in September, next to Thomas Hill's celebrated 1881 painting, 'The Last Spike.' ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

History Channel - newest Transcontinental Railroad television program

From: "Chris Graves"

The History Channel will begin broadcasting the newest Transcontinental Railroad program beginning at 7 am ET, May 24, 2006.

Those involved in this epic are David H. Bain, Wendell Huffman, Chuck Sweet, Bob Chugg, Walter Gray, Kyle Wyatt and other luminaries.

You may wish to consult your local TV directory for times airing in your area.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Ignorance + bad design = The Utah Quarter

Yesterday's publication of a picture of the new Utah quarter (from the U.S. 25¢ series of commerative coins) which says "Utah 1896" above a golden spike and two locomotives head to head, and "2007 E. Pluribus Unum" below led to a prediction (duh!) that knowledge of history is so sparse that many people wouldn't understand that "Utah 1896" refers to Utah Statehood on January 4, 1896, the 45th state and think that 1896 refers to the date of joining of the rails.

It didn't take long:

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Railroad event will adorn Utah quarter

JENNIFER DOBNER - The Associated Press

"PROMONTORY – Utah's commemorative quarter will memorialize neither the state's 'greatest snow on earth,' nor the famous industriousness of the territory's founding pioneers. Instead, the honor goes to the so-called 'Wedding of the Rails' – the driving of a gold spike into railroad ties that in 1896 established the first transcontinental railroad." ... [sic] [Emphasis added]


Utah Quarter.  Courtesy U.S. Mint.
Utah Quarter.
Courtesy U.S. Mint.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fudging the facts doesn't promote tolerance: The Chinese at Promontory

Chinese railroad workers most definitely were included in the May 10, 1869 joining of the rails ceremony. Honor the memory of the heroic Chinese transcontinental railroad workers by telling their story with historical accuracy.

We are troubled by an article in today's Rochester Democrat and Chronicle which misleadingly states:

"However, although historical records show that most of the railroad was built by thousands of Chinese laborers, on the Golden Spike Day, when the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railways were joined at Promontory Summit, Utah, May 10, 1869, the picture taken to commemorate the occasion EXCLUDED the Chinese railroad workers. That is despite the fact that they were the ones who actually laid the final tracks joining the two railways and that these Chinese workers laid 10 miles of track in one day, a record still unbroken to this day. There have been many efforts to redress this omission." [emphasis added]

Referring to "the picture taken to commemorate the occasion" fudges the facts since there were multiple pictures taken. Presumably this refers to UPRR photographer A.J. Russell's "champagne" picture as if it were the only one, while in fact Russell didn't exclude the Chinese from his photography. To the contrary, A.J. Russell took a photograph on the same day specifically to show the Chinese workers which he titled "Chinese at Laying Last Rail UPRR."

The CPRR management went much further, commissioning the famous painting of "The Last Spike" by Thomas Hill that includes the Chinese railroad workers, as well as the earlier stereoviews taken by A.A Hart, the railroad's official photographer to promote the construction project and showing the Chinese workers.

Also omitted is a critical part of the story: the fact that the portions of the transcontinental railroad built in Utah where the golden spike ceremony was held used mostly Mormon contractors and crews, largely replacing Chinese or Irish laborers used earlier in other states.

The famous A.J. Russell photograph (or the related stereviews by Charles Savage and by A.A. Hart) could not include the Chinese workers[sic] photographed earlier participating in the joining of the rails ceremony because at the moment the famous photo was being taken it was AFTER the conclusion of the ceremony and the Chinese workers were away from the two locomotives to dine at J.H. Strobridge's boarding car, being honored and cheered by the CPRR management.

Far from the Chinese being "excluded," a reporter for the San Francisco Newsletter, May 15th, 1869, described the final moments of the celebration at Promontory:

"J.H. Strobridge, when the work was all over, invited the Chinese who had been brought over from Victory for that purpose, to dine at his boarding car. When they entered, all the guests and officers present cheered them as the chosen representatives of the race which have greatly helped to build the road ... a tribute they well deserved and which evidently gave them much pleasure."

The Chinese were not only not "excluded" from the ceremony on May 10, 1869, but three of them, Ging Cui, Wong Fook, and Lee Shao survived long enough to also be included in the commemorative parade held exactly 50 years later!

While virulent anti-Chinese racism was certainly prevelant in 19th century California, Central Pacific Railroad officials facing economic necessity, rapidly overcame their initial prejudice against the Chinese once they hired some Chinese laborers and discovered that their work was outstanding. Don't unfairly malign great men whose vision, investment, and hard work made a project many thought impossible into a stunning success.

The few surviving Chinese-American descendants of the CPRR Chinese railroad workers whose ancestors built the difficult mountainous and arid western portions of the first transcontinental railroad should look back with well justified enormous pride at their brave ancestors' amazing accomplishment – the manual construction of the greatest engineering project of the 19th century that united our nation.

What the historic record actually shows is that the CPRR management overcame the prevalent racist attitudes of the day, recognized the great value of Chinese labor, and at the completion of the railroad construction properly honored and cheered the Chinese workers who built the railroad and were included in the ceremonies on May 10th, 1869. Those Chinese were free men seeking opportunity in America, paid comparable wages in gold for their incredibly hard construction work, who were able to save two-thirds of their railroad wages to enable them to return to China with considerable wealth.

Eight Chinese railroad workers, including Ging Cui, Wong Fook, and Lee Shao, were the men who actually joined the rails at Promontory Summit, Utah on May 10, 1869 and were honored on that day by the railroad officials for the magnificent Chinese contribution to building a transcontinental America.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Count of Transcontinental Railroad Workers and Deaths

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads

From: Itzel Mateos

What are the names of the two companies that built the transcontinental railroad?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Track layer named Alberto Rodriguez

From: "Isela Ponce De Leon"

... I am working on my family tree and recently found out that my grandfather Alberto Rodriguez worked laying out the rails for the train  back in 1910-1930?  He was immigrant from Mexico and wanted to know if you are able to let me know where I would be able to find his name.  ... how I would go about finding more information on him.  I don't know what railroad it was, but, he worked in San Francisco all the way to Mexico.

Monday, May 01, 2006

SP Overland Limited in early 1920s


I'm looking for a typical consist for the Overland Limited on the Southern Pacific in the early 1920s - what would have been pulled by the SP 4-6-2 class P-8 locos across Nevada. The P-8s were built in 1921, and most of them saw initial service pulling trains between Sparks and Ogden.

—Kyle Wyatt

"Blind Tom," the UPRR horse

From: "Diane Wilson"

I have a book called "Animals Who Have Won Our Hearts" [by Jean Craighead George] that says a horse named Blind Tom "hauled every rail in the eleven hundred miles of Union Pacific roadbed. No other horse helped him." Is this true? Do you have any other information on this horse or the other horses that worked on the railroad? ...

—Diane Wilson

Carbutt Stereoview #233, detail, showing Blind Tom.  Courtesy Barry Swackhamer Collection

Gasconade River Bridge Wreck

From: "Dot Duncan"

It was with great interest that I read your outstanding article about the Gasconade River Bridge Wreck outside St. Louis, MO in 1855. According to information I've obtained, my great grandfather, Franz Johann Georg Specht (Francis G. Specht), M.D., of St. Louis was a survivor of that train wreck. He was with the German newspaper, Anzeiger des Westens, prior to his graduation from Washington University School of Medicine (Class of 1858), so I don't know why he would have been selected to ride that inaugural train at the tender age of 23! I would be most interested to obtain any info you have regarding a list of passengers, list of injured and dead from the wreck, or any references you could cite where I might obtain this information. It would be nice to validate the info regarding my ancestor.

I am in the process of obtaining a copy of Dr. Specht's obit from an English-written newspaper in St. Louis where it was mentioned that he was a survivor of the Gasconade Train Disaster of 1855 ...

Dot (Wilson) Duncan
Tampa, Florida

Dorothy Wilson Duncan
d/o Dorothy Gibson Dawson and Gerald Franklin Wilson
d/o James Gibson Dawson and Doretta Caroline Specht
d/o Franz Johann Georg Specht and Doretta Caroline (Rosenthal) Specht

Gasconade River, August, 2012,
Gasconade River, August, 2012

Southern Pacific/UP Flanger Operations

From: "Lewis Raymond C TSgt 355 AMXS/MXABS"

I am contacting you in hopes of obtaining any/all information available regarding the evolution, operations or any pertinent facts regarding flanger's used on the SP system, most notably Donner Pass. I have spent many days photographing trains in the heavy snow on Donner and would like to do an article on them. I know several of the crew members, as well as the MOW employees in Truckee for that vantage point, but now I would like to get some "nuts and bolts" information. I appreciate any assistance that you can offer to me,

Raymond Lewis
TSgt Raymond Lewis
355 AMXS/357 AMU
Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ

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