Saturday, August 19, 2006

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).



Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Although there are some excellent books about the first transcontinental railroad, you should appreciate that the website has information from many sources and contains more than 5,000 pages, so there is no single book that is equivalent. David Bain's Empire Express, and Bruce Cooper's Transcontinental Rails come the closest to what you are requesting.

8/19/2006 5:14 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


On the question of the wheels, the tread is not flat, but is tapered, narrower on the outside of the wheel, wider on the inside next to the flange. In going around a curve, the outside rail is longer than the inside rail. As a car goes around the curve, the flange will tend to bear against the outside rail. This puts the larger part of the wheel contacting the outside rail and results in the flange on the inside wheel moving away from the inside rail, putting the smaller diameter part of the wheel in contact with the inside rail. Since a larger circle will cover more distance in a single revolution, this action helps minimize wheel slip when rounding curves.

That said, I don't think I would characterize the action as the car being able to " turn left or right by sliding its wheels to the left or right ... "


8/20/2006 12:00 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Wendell Huffman"

On the other stuff, I'd suggest visiting a local railroad museum and talking with a docent.

Chris might fill in the information about rails, but I think the rails are the same regardless of the gauge to which they are laid.


8/21/2006 11:37 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Chris Graves"

Thanks Wendell, I have already sent the gentleman an email to the effect that "narrow" and "standard" was in relation to the distance between the rails, not the rails themselves ...

8/21/2006 6:55 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Also see the discussion of the misuse of the term "intercontinental."

8/23/2006 11:39 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

When you write "intercontinental railroad," do you perhaps mean "transcontinental railroad"?

The term "intercontinental railroad" (a railroad between continents) when applied to the Americas refers to plans at the end of the 19th century for building a railroad through Mexico to South America, which is NOT the Central Pacific Railroad, the western part of the U.S. first transcontinental railroad, that was build by mostly Chinese workers from Sacramento California to Promontory Summit, Utah connecting on May 10, 1869 with the Union Pacific Railroad built west mostly by Irishmen from Omaha, Nebraska.

8/23/2006 12:04 PM  

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