Saturday, October 14, 2006

Impact on homesteads and residential construction


I am researching the impacts that the railroad had on homesteads and residential construction as it pertains to the American frontier. Would you happen to have a bibliography available that relates to this subject or have a historian/curator with whom I may discuss this matter with?

—Chuck Carrig


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Here are some sources:

Railroad Land Grants (Books)

Land Grants (Books)

Land Grants (CPRR Museum)

CPRR Primary Sources


10/15/2006 8:29 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Lynn Farrar"

Be sure to include Sunset Limited by Richard J. Orsi published in 2005 by University of California Press – Berkeley and Los Angeles, California detailing at great length Southern Pacific Railroad and the developments of the American West, 1850 to 1930. One of the finest books on the subject I have ever read.

—Lynn Farrar

10/15/2006 5:29 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


Since the US Government kept every other section within the land grant boundaries, the development of rail transportation should have made much of this prime homestead land in many areas. On the other hand, it isn't a question I've looked into in particular, so have no suggestions on other references that discuss it – although you might take a look at Richard Orsi's new book, Sunset Limited, which does cover Southern Pacific 19th century land, among other subjects.


10/17/2006 9:12 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Larry Mullaly"

It is hard for me to see a connection here. Balloon frame construction was fairly standard by the time the CP and later the SP began planting railroad depots and other structures around the west. Railroad items became increasingly standardized over time, with materials and mill work routed through the CP Mill at Oakland Point, California. By the mid 1870s most new depots were carbon copies of one another, varying mostly in terms of length. By the late 1870's, the first of CP/SP's Combination Stations appears, a numbered sequence that eventually had about twenty six models, and was not terminated until 1905. All of these used elements from a long list of standardized parts provided by Oakland.

Construction materials were almost always a mixture of Pacific Coast redwood for sidings and moldings, with "Oregon pine" (probably Douglas Fir) for floors and joists.

I can provide you information on depot construction, but again relating this to much more lightly built homestead construction seems a stretch.

—Larry Mullaly

Residential construction in towns was usually locally available wood and/or brick (because of frequent fires). By the 1890s there were catalogues advertising kit homes that came in railroad boxcars precut and ready to assemble. Sears had some of these and there were several other companies as well. Were it not for railroads there would have been no delivery mechanism for such homes.

—Alice Mullaly

10/18/2006 10:43 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "John Snyder"

FYI, "Oregon Pine" was definitely Douglas fir – a fact I turned up while researching my MA thesis.

—John Snyder, P.S. Preservation Services

10/18/2006 12:22 PM  

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