Thursday, August 31, 2006

"Google Book Search allows full PDF downloads"

"Google Book Search allows full PDF downloads" by Nate Anderson, © Ars Technica, 8/30/2006. (News Article)

"When Google Print was first unveiled, it was clear that the site would become an amazing resource. It provided full access to books that were already out of copyright, but only if you viewed them online, one page at a time. What people most wanted, though, was the ability to download full PDF versions of the books, which they could read or print at their leisure and on their own machines. Oh, and they wanted Google to provide this free of charge. Google went ahead and did it. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Google Book Search includes a number of terrific railroad books and reports, for example, from Stanford University's Hopkins Transportation Library Collection. Unfortunately, the Google pdf downloads have page images only, so are not searchable while being viewed using software such as Adobe Acrobat.

We'll be posting links for a number of the railroad books and reports from the Google Library Project as soon as we get them processed to make them searchable by adding OCR converted full text.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Track spirit level


I have 2 standard gauge track spirit levels identical to the one shown on your website. How old are they? How rare? Where can I obtain an appraisal?

Route from West Branch, Iowa to Portland, Oregon

From: "Margriet Ruurs"

I enjoyed your informative site!

I wonder if you can tell me which route an emigrant train would have taken from West Branch, Iowa to Portland, Oregon in 1885?

Would that have been the Union Pacific via Omaha, Denver and Ogden?

Would the journey have taken 7 days?

Margriet Ruurs, writer, Oregon

Size of the land grants

From: "Del Weber"

What was the size of the land grants for each mile constructed?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Fare of a transcontinental trip - ticket price

From: "Paul Jeannin"

What was the fare of a transcontinental trip when the railroad was complete and what first stop west of Big Mountain Pass when the railroad was completed?

Golden Spike Report by Robert L. Spude now online


[Golden Spike Report posted online today:]

Promontory Summit, May 10, 1869
A History of the Site Where The Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads Joined to Form the First Transcontinental Railroad, 1869, With a Special Focus on the Tents of May 10, and with Recommendations for Interpretation of and Historic Furnishings Study for the Tents at the Last Spike Site, Golden Spike National Historic Site, Utah

By Robert L. Spude, History Program
And with the assistance of Todd Delyea, Historic Architecture Program

Cultural Resources Management
Intermountain Region, National Park Service

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Lightfoot Collection

From: "Don Snoddy"

Can I see the whole image [for Lightfoot Collection No. 4]? And what Carbutt number is this? Great shot but I don't remember seeing it as part of the Carbutt collection at UP.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Liability Waiver for SPRR Travel Pass, 1873


... The person who accepts this Free Pass thereby assumes all risks of accidents, and in consideration of its receipt, expressly agrees that the above Company shall not be liable under any circumstances, whether by negligence—criminal or otherwise—of their agents or others, for any injury to the person, or loss or injury to property, while using this Pass, and that as to such persons the Company shall not be considered as common carriers, or liable as such. ... I hereby agree that this Pass is subject to the above conditions.



SPRR Pass, 1873. Courtesy Peter and Helen Frusetta Collection. Courtesy Peter and Helen Frusetta Collection.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

CP/SP Depot Bollard Question

From: "Randy Ruiz"

I am looking for drawings or any other information that exists documenting what appears to have been a standard Southern Pacific bollard design. In case you do not know, a "bollard" is a short vertical obstruction set into the ground used to protect buildings and such from vehicles. The current operators of the Sunol depot may want to install replicas of these bollards. Since identical bollards are visible in photos of other S.P. depots, I thought that perhaps the railroad had fabricated them. Any leads would be appreciated. The [Southern Pacific Photo from the Union Pacific Museum Collection showing bollards in place at the Sunol Depot in 1913 is displayed on] the Centerville Depot website. The roof ridges and finials are interesting details as well.

Randolph R. Ruiz [Architect]

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

"Steaming the day away on early Lake Tahoe"

"Steaming the day away on early Lake Tahoe: Echoes From the Past" by Gordon Richards, © Sierra Sun,Truckee, California, August 22, 2006. (News Article)

"The tourist industry at Lake Tahoe started with the completion of the Central Pacific Railroad over the Sierra in 1868. ... The railroad brought an easy way over the Sierra and from Truckee, wagon roads were quickly built to Lake Tahoe. The first Tahoe commercial vessel, the Iron Duke, sailed the lake from 1860 to 1870. Quickly, the early small sailing boats on Tahoe were replaced by the first crude steamboats. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Monday, August 21, 2006

First "intercontinental railroad"

From: "Wendell Huffman"

I'm curious where the first "intercontinental railroad" was built. Russia? between Europe and Asia? ...


Chinese Honored at Promontory


I finally found the contemporary account of the Chinese being honored at Promontory by Strobridge after the last spike ceremony.

Chinese Honored at Promontory
San Francisco News Letter – Supplement May 15, 1869, Vol. IX, No. XV, pg 4
Honors to John Chinaman

Mr. Strowbridge [sic], when work was all over, invited the Chinamen who had been brought over from Victory for the purpose, to dine in his boarding car. When they entered all the guests and officers present cheered them as the chosen representatives of the race which have greatly helps to build the road – a tribute which the well deserved, and which evidently gave them much pleasure.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Belt Buckles - Bogus or real?

From: "Laverna"

I have one brass buckle, American Express, Wells Butterfield & Co, with picture of 3 horses pulling a wagon, 3 people in seat of wagon, 3 behind and horses with rider on street behind wagon. Back of buckle says "Tiffany Broadway New York."

Another that says Central & Union Pacific Railroad Co. with horses on front, back has "Property of Union Pacific railroad" and has same mark as the other – "Tiffany Broadway New York."

Both buckles look like brass and are about 3 inches square. ... Are they real or fake?


A grand 'anvil chorus'

Can anyone identify the name of the newspaper and/or the exact date of publication of the following famous words and/or supply a copy or transcription of the original article from which this came?
"A light car, drawn by a single horse, gallops up to the front with its load of rails.  Two men seize the end of a rail and start forward, the rest of the gang taking hold by twos, until it is clear of the car.  They come forward at a run.  At the word of command the rail is dropped in its place, right side up with care, while the same process goes on at the other side of the car.  Less than thirty seconds to a rail for each gang, and so four rails go down to the minute ... close behind the first gang come the gaugers, spikers, and bolters, and a lively time they make of it.  It is a grand 'anvil chorus' ... It is played in triple time, 3 strokes to the spike.  There are 10 spikes to a rail, 400 rails to a mile, 1,800 miles to San Francisco — 21,000,000 times those sledges to be swung: 21,000,000 times are they to come down with their sharp punctuation before the great work of modern America is complete."

—Dr. William Abraham Bell, Newspaper, 1866

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Great Uncle Bloomer

From: "Sherrie Vilhelmsen"

I'm researching family history, and I'm stuck on finding any information on a great uncle. He was killed in a railroad accident in Washington or Oregon, between 1950 and 1965. His name was Bloomer and I believe he was a signalman. If you could help me find any information or give me an idea where to look it would be greatly appreciated.

—Sherrie Vilhelmsen / Steve Green

Writing a novel


I am writing a novel for teenagers about the first intercontinental railroad, and the information on your website is most informative. Is there a way I can buy a book (or something like that) that has all this information in one place? I need it for reference.

I also need to find a person who is interested in the details of railroad construction – someone who will know the difference between 'standard' rails and 'narrow gauge' rails. I need a person who can explain how a railroad car was able to turn left or right by sliding its wheels to the left or right to create a larger or smaller diameter wheel (since the axles were forged as one piece).


Friday, August 18, 2006

Golden Spike visit ideas

From: "Randy Hees"

I am trying to burn some vacation days before they turn to dust, and am doing a drive next week that includes the Golden Spike National Monument most of Thursday 8/23.

So, what do I need to see. I plan on doing both driving loops. I will walk the grade where appropriate. I will visit the visitor center. I will get to see the locos... Ideas welcome.

I have downloaded the various documents on their web site including the Cultural resource inventory.


First advocate for a Pacific Railroad

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Robbery Location [Butch Cassidy (Robert Leroy Parker) and the Sundance Kid (Harry Longbaugh)]

From: "Tracie Gaddy"

I am wondering if you can help me? I am trying to research "The Great Train Robbery." I need to know where it was that the Wild Bunch got on board and where it was scheduled to stop. I can' t find both answers but I think it was scheduled to stop at Table Rock, Wyoming? I have read through alot of information and some mentions Tipton also. Any help would be appreciated.

—T. Gaddy

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Your site has been mentioned on radio!"

From: "Mary Westheimer"


Your site is being featured this month on Eye on the Web, a radio show that reaches all 50 U.S. states and 124 other countries, thanks to our sponsor, sculptor Kevin Caron, and KNLS radio. The show will be played this month and may be repeated.

You can read the nice things we had to say at

Eye on the Web – An international radio show featuring the fun and fanciful world of the Web, sponsored by sculptor Kevin Caron

Meanwhile, thanks for having a wonderful site, and sharing your talents with the world.


Mary Westheimer
Host, Eye on the Web

"All aboard! Anyone can enjoy the Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum, but train and history buffs will be immediately entranced. This isn't a slick site, yet people wouldn't come to it to see the latest in Web design. Instead, you'll find amazing photos, drawings and maps about the people, places and times when railroads expanded across the United States, opening its wide expanses to the world. The challenges of the enterprises - from chicanery to smallpox to natural barriers - is covered in great detail, with lots of links from one section to the next to keep you constantly clicking, much as the trains themselves finally rolled across the tracks. While most sites avoid lots of text, this one gives you plenty to read as you learn the good and the bad about a bygone time.
Destination: history!"

Railroad tool?


I was told that this was a railroad key of some sort. Can you identify the tool shown in the attached picture and give me some details about it?

—Rich Bartels


Note: CLICK HERE to see the second photo referred to in a comment below which shows "the control stand on a completely rebuilt SW1000 that was sitting outside the old EJ&E Car Shops in Joliet, IL. ... Photo by Neal 12/01" from the DPD Productions website's Railroad Gallery.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Book: "The Railroad Photographs of Alfred A. Hart, Artist" by MEAD B. KIBBEY

Now online at the CPRR Museum:

A PDF version of "The Railroad Photographs of Alfred A. Hart, Artist" by MEAD B. KIBBEY without illustrations that preserves the footnotes. (Some new software has finally allowed us to rescue the formatted and footnoted digital manuscript, although not the printed pagination.)

Most of the illustrations are included in the web page version of this book which has been online for several years.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Railway Engineering information from AREMA

For modern "technical and practical knowledge and recommended practices pertaining to the design, construction and maintenance of railway infrastructure" see the publications of The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association especially their book, a Practical Guide to Railway Engineering which contains a detailed Glossary of railroad terms.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

CPRR Sierra Grade 360º Panoramas

Now online at the CPRR Museum:

Donner Summit 360 degree virtual reality panorama, August, 2006.

From "Bruce C. Cooper" BCC@CPRR.ORG

The main reason for my return visits to the grade at Cape Horn and the Summit (at which my great great grandfather, L.M. Clement, was the engineer during construction) was to take integrated sets of photographs from which to create a series of 360º interactive “QTVR” (QuickTime Virtual Reality) panoramas to add to the Sierra Grade exhibit. The first of these (which I created by digitally compositing 21 separate images) has just been posted online. The vantage point from which I took the images is the same one from which A.J. Russell took his famous 1868 stereo view of the CPRR’s then newly completed summit passage.

—Bruce C. Cooper

Original Crew & Engine Districts

From: (Abramoslav Burnettovych)

Has anyone figured out how the original engine and crew districts between Sacramento and Ogden were laid out in 1869 and the very early years of the Central Pacific? (Engine and crew districts were almost certainly identical in the very early years, and perhaps for a long time thereafter.)

Some places, such as Toanno and Terrace, appear to have been early engine and crew change points and even shop facilities, but they apparently disappeared rather quickly. It's obvious that better rail and roadbed, better engines, the change of locomotive fuel from wood to coal, and the increase in train speeds very quickly lengthened the territory a crew and its engine could cover. With this came changes in the layout of the operating Divisions (superintendents and train dispatchers were given more territory.)

A chronology of engine and crew districts, and changes in the structure of the operating Divisions, would be an heuristic product for this List !

—Abram Burnett

CP locomotive 48


Does anyone have a nice reference scan photo of CP 4-4-0 #48 after the Stevens rebuild that they'd be willing to share? Doesn't need to be anything hi-res, just something that will show up well on a screen when opened.


Monday, August 07, 2006

S P and the Bull Dog RR

From: "Chris Graves"

I am sending along a picture of a shovel-head that is marked thus;   8  35    BULL DOG RR   S P LINES.  I am familiar with August, 1935, I have seen the railbed of the Bull Frog RR near Rhyolite, Calif., and the SP Lines is not a stranger here.  BUT, I have NEVER heard of the BULL DOG Railroad, and why would the Bull Dog RR be associated with the SP?

I would guess the BULL DOG RR refers to the type or maker of the shovel, does anyone else have a theory?

—G J Chris Graves

Bull Dog RR Shovel

Engines on the Union Pacific RR, 1883


I'm doing research for a documentary and we need photos of the type/model of passenger trains that would have been operating from San Francisco to east coast between 1880 and 1884, 1883 to be exact. Would you have any information on that or know of a good source? We need the photo's as reference to create a 3D model.

—Waylon McGuigan, Producer, Digitrove Media Production Company

CPRR Locomotive Antelope

From: "Mary Murray"

I am struggling to find a picture of a 19th century engine/train on the Central Pacific RR, named ANTELOPE, originally scheduled to deliver some dignitaries to the Promontory Pt. event, but it had an accident and was replaced for the special occasion. Is it possible you might know where a picture, frontal and/or side view, or any drawings or art of any kind, would be available for model makers? ...

—Mary Murray

Saturday, August 05, 2006


From: "John Sweat"

Yesterday while fishing along the Truckee river I found a railroad lock. On the back it has the CPRR CO. Stamp marks and 4 87 stampings, which I guess would be the month and year of manufacture. On the latch the capital letter G is stamped, do you know what this means? Also could you tell me roughly the value of this lock.

—John Sweat

CPRR lock

At the top is stamped: 4          8    7
The numerals above are separated about like I typed them here (about an inch total spread). On the horizontal rectangular plate is stamped:
C. P. R. R. Co.
Color looks ... like real life! You can see the verdigris.

CPRR lock

The key opening cover swivels from the top to open, exposing the opening for the key (skeleton type). Opening is about 5/8 inch high with circular pin at top.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Who Was At Promontory


Following is a list from the key of figures in the Hill painting, The Last Spike. The question is, who was actually there, and who was not?


@ Known to have been at Promontory
* Known not to have been at Promontory

Stephen T. Gage
*A. P. Stanford
@F. A. Tritle
Hon. John Conness
C. N. West
*Benjamin Welch
E. F. Gerald
J. R. Watson
@Rev. Dr. Todd
James W. Haynes
E. H. Miller, Jr.
Arthur Brown
Robert Robinson
Bishop J. Sharp
William Sherman
Charles Marsh
*David Hewes – San Francisco, donor of golden spike
Lorenzo Sawyer
E. Black Ryan
Mrs. E. B. Ryan
Bishop L. Farr
John Corning
W. E. Brown
@Thomas P. Durant – Vice president, Union Pacific Railroad
Dr. J. D. B. Stillman
@Dr. H. W. Harkness
Col. Little
Mrs. J. H. Strowbridge – Wife of Central Pacific Railroad construction superintendent
F. L. Vandenberg
@Leland Stanford – *President, Central Pacific Railroad, member of "Big Four"
H. Notingham
*C. P. Huntington – *Member of "Big Four"
@S. B. Reed
F. D. Richards
P. McGrue
John Duff
T. P. Woodward
J. R. Adams
*Oakes Ames
Judge Galwood
J. H. Strobridge – Central Pacific construction superintendent
@Sidney Dillion
Gen. Cogswell
no forty-four listed
George F. Parsons
@Edgar Mills
@Gen. G. M. Dodge – Chief engineer,Union Pacific
Hon. Milton S. Latham
*Mark Hopkins – *Member of "Big Four"
Miss Earl
@Miss Annie Reed
*Judge E.B. Crocker – Central Pacific legal counsel and brother of Charles Crocker
*Charles Crocker – *"Big Four" member in charge of construction from Sacramento to Promontory
@S. S. Montague – Assistant Engineer, Central Pacific
*T. D. Judah – Died five years before
L. M. Clement
Eli Dennison
Col. T. H. Head
No fifty-nine shown
No sixty shown
@A. P. K. Safford
B. B. Redding
Charles Cadwalader
Adolph Steiner
S. W. Sanderson
*A. N. Towne
Geo. E. Gray
John Casement
Hon. T. G. Phelps
Capt. Franklin
Hon. A. A. Sargent

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Solano film footage wanted

From: "Janet Kendall"

... I am a student at UC Berkeley. I am working on a research project, and I would like to include film footage of the Solano. Do you know if any footage exists? If so, how would I acquire it?

—Janet Kendall

Boca and Loyalton Railroad


Sierra Valley (California): Back at the turn of the 20th century, this valley hosted four railroads. One lasted 40 years; one was absorbed into the Western Pacific. The other two quietly slid into "ghost railroads." Ok, so....

Little is written about these rails. Even the Sacramento RR museum only has a few items – and some "kodak moment" pictures. Calif. Historical Society has almost nothing. Afterall, who cares about these small "roads." All they did was haul lumber and dairy products (Over to Virginia City, NV).

My hypothesis: One of the railroads just might have been built to assist the Central Pacific. The Boca and Loyalton went over to Truckee. I am researching links/people who might validate this claim: that the B & L was built to supply lumber/ties to the Central Pacific [Much of the timber at the Truckee/Tahoe area was spoken for. The Nevada mines hauled volumes out for their mining and railroad needs.] The B&L was one of the earliest rails in CA, yet little is known about it or its place in rr history


Date of Travellers Guide

From: "Don Snoddy"

When I looked at the timetable on this link it says 1876. Is the guide really 1878?


Tuesday, August 01, 2006


From: "Wendell Huffman"

As a librarian/archivist and compulsive organizer I was intrigued when I noticed the numbering of accounts in an I.C.C. accounting document dating from the period of the railroad valuation projects. ... was the use of these numbers to designate particular accounts universal among American railroads (at any particular time)? ...

—Wendell Huffman

Baldwin Cab Signal Gongs

Subject: Gong/Signal bell

Early in railroad development, a need to for the conductor to signal the engineer became apparent. A rope thru the cars to the locomotive cab tied to a noisemaker (bell, whistle etc) was relatively cheap and easy to rig up.

When Nevada Central brought the number 2 from Baldwin, it had a emergency trip bell (also called a gong in the catalogs). On the cab ceiling, near the center, is a flat, round wood plate, for mounting a signal bell. The signal bell was long gone from Emma before Ward had brought the engine. Ward did acquire a modern (1940’s modern) signal gong and mounted it in the appropriate place. Similar bells were used for a variety of industrial uses as well as locomotive and streetcar use. Very few Baldwin locomotive gongs have survived, Kyle Wyatt (CSRM Curator) mentioned to Dave Garcia & Brian Norden that apparently only a few in Finland are known to exist.

John LePrince acquired a rare 1870’s signal gong that may have been used on a locomotive, or possibly some industrial application. It is not from Baldwin, but the 1903 Dayton catalog in the Museum’s collection (another Kimball donation) shows several different gongs, for use in locomotives. John’s is very similar to one of these. The bell is a brass and silver alloy that produces a very rich sound. The gong Ward installed has a steel bell, is larger, and very plain. We are currently investigating if either of these bells were used on locomotives. A photo of John’s bell is included with this email.

John's 1870's emergency trip bell.
John's 1870's emergency trip bell.

Bell trip mechanism.
Bell trip mechanism.




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