Sunday, December 31, 2006

National History Day Questions

From: "Sophie Su"

... Here are a few questions ...

1. Did the Chinese workers who immigrated benefit from their time in America despite the dangers of working on the railroad as well as from the animosity they faced from the public?

2. What types of tasks were Chinese workers assigned to do and what was their typical work day? (as in breaks, treatment by supervisors, hours, wages)

3. After the potential of Chinese workers were realized (despite their small build) were they generally forced to work on the railroad, or was there a type of contract enacted? (if so, could the workers dissolve them as they wished, or were they generally violated by their employers)

4. Did the Railroad at all help the U.S. during the mini-economic depression of the Reconstruction Era?

5. How beneficial was the Railroad as a whole? (considering the overproduction of goods in the late 19th Century that led to extreme deflation and the smaller farmers who could not afford the price of transporting their goods by Rail)

Thank you so much for your time and effort in contributing to our project! We are extremely grateful! ...

—Jennifer Li, Kelly Sharpless, Sophie Soo

Correct job title of the person in charge of locomotive Machine Shop

From: "Hans-Jörg Siepert"
Subject: Name of Machine Shop

I have visited [your] nice homepage and would have another two questions which they can maybe answer.

I search the name with the railroads of the USA for "Bahnbetriebswerk" (Germany) or "Railway centre" (Great Britian).

I found on the web page of the UPRR the name " Machine of shop ", is in order.

In addition, which official name the boss of such an arrangement. In Germany these persons "Lokomotivbetriebsinspektor" were called.

How is this person called with the Railroads of the USA ?

I have liked their web page with many photos very well and I drop by with pleasure once again. ...

—Hans-J. Siepert

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Correspondence on Western Pacific Iron

From: "Larry Mullaly"

This past week at the National Archives in College Park, I came across a set of three letters that I believe are not found in the CP Huntington microfilmed correspondence.

The documents are in the Western Pacific "railroad packages" and deal with the question as to whether or not rail was removed from the WP between San Jose and Niles to expedite the building of the Central Pacific. My transcription of the three items sent by Huntington in New York to Jacob D. Cox, Secretary of the Interior, follows. It is difficult to determine from the letters whether the issue of discrediting Jacob Blickensderfer, a US Railroad Commissioner, or defending the presence of original iron on the Western Pacific is of greater importance. I am also struck by how rapidly this collection of documents was put together and forwarded to Secretary Cox (the Stanford testimonial seems to be a hand-written copy of the original, and bears no seal nor actual signature in Stanford's hand).

—Larry Mullaly

New York, June 4, 1869
Hon. Jacob D. Cox
Secretary of the Interior
Washington DC


I have the honor to send you herewith Mark Hopkins letter of the 24th ult. To me, also affidavit of Leland Stanford, Prest. Western Pacific Rail Road, as further evidence in the matter of non-removal of iron from said road and have to ask as a personal favor that you read these carefully as the matters referred to in them are of a personal nature between Mr. Blickensderfer and myself.

I have the honor to be Very Respectfully Your obedient servant,
C.P. Huntington

No. 184
Sacramento, May 24, 1869

Mr. Huntington,

Your dispatch was duly received "saying "Blinkersdorfer says Stanford told him we had taken up iron on the Western Pacific Road," is it true?" – and I replied by telegraph.

At the time I received and answered it, Stanford was at San Francisco. Since his return it has been shown him, and he say it is utterly false – an outright fabrication, without anything even to suggest it, that no such thought ever entered his mind, and that Blickensderfer or any one else who would make such an assertion must do it from malicious motive. For the truth is we are pushing the work of construction on the Western Pacific road energetically from both ends and laying down iron (instead of taking it up) just as fast as tis possible to get the bridges and Livermore Tunnel out of the way – and putting the 20.miles from San Jose east in thorough repair – building track from Warm Springs Landing (at head of San Francisco Bay) and landing 480 tons of iron there to be laid from that end to the Tunnel, while we are building San Joaquin Bridge 1 1/4 miles in length with Draw for shipping to pass, preparatory to carrying forward the track from the East to the Tunnel. So that as soon as night and day shifts of men can complete the Tunnel – say by 1st of August or before – the whole line of Western from Sacramento to San Jose will be complete and Commissioners' Report upon it ready to forward you.

I can scarcely conceive it possible that even Blickensderfer with all his unpaid-for malignity (possibly because unpaid) should say so weak and foolish a thing, so readily exposed and refuted and so destitute of motive on our part. For we have more iron and ties than we have any use for at present and have had for months. And even if we had not, it [is] not in keeping with any act we have ever yet done in all our intercourse with our fellows.

I trust you didn't wait to hear from us before denouncing the assertion as it deserved.

This further utterance confirms my opinion from what I saw of him that he either had been or wished to be paid for his opinion on Rail Roads.

Yours truly,
Mark Hopkins

State of California
City & County of San Francisco

Leland Stanford being duly sworn says that he is the President of the Western Pacific Railroad Company whose railroad is located in the said State of California, that the portion of said railroad heretofore constructed by said Company commencing in the City of San Jose and extending into Alameda Canon [sic], a distance of twenty miles, still remains ready for use and operation, and no portion of the same or of any of the railroad constructed by said Company has ever been later taken up or removed.

Sworn and subscribed before me this 26th day of May 1869

F.J. Thibault
Notary Public

Leland Stanford

Friday, December 29, 2006

Sacramento Railyard sale picks up speed

"Railyard sale picks up speed: Amid flurry of last-minute details, developer hopes to close the deal today" by Mary Lynne Vellinga, © Sacramento Bee, December 28, 2006. (News Article)

"The city of Sacramento's longtime quest to revitalize its urban core is expected to hit a major milestone today when the shuttered downtown railyard passes into the hands of a private developer — ending nearly 150 years of railroad ownership. ... The city is ... to purchase 33 acres of railyard land from Thomas Enterprises, as well as the historic train depot on I Street. ... the California Department of Parks and Recreation, ... has long planned to convert two of the seven historic shop buildings left on the property to a museum of railroad technology. ... The railyard dates back to the late 1860s, when Central Pacific filled in the former Sutter Lake, also known as China Slough, to build a complex of buildings that grew to become the largest industrial complex west of the Mississippi. Locomotive engines and cars were built and repaired in the shops, which employed about 4,000 people in their heyday during the 1930s and '40s. Union Pacific closed the railyard shops for good in 1999, and tore down all but seven buildings — the ones considered the most historically significant. ... " [More]

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Season's Greetings - some RRer recipes

Season's Greetings to the Group

... some RRer recipes to try for the feasting season.


[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

Friday, December 22, 2006

Railroads chug away from San Leandro memory

"Railroads chug away from San Leandro memory" by Martin Ricard, © Tri-Valley Herald, Pleasanton, CA 12/1/2006. (News Article)

" ... The San Leandro Historical Railway Society has opened its doors to thousands of visitors since it was established in 1988. Visitors are always amazed by the treasures they find at the 107-year-old Southern Pacific passenger train depot that once served as the final leg of the first transcontinental mainline, which traveled from Omaha to Sacramento. Railway Society members hope families will come to the open house to learn, enjoy the more than 5,000 scale miles of model train tracks that loop around the museum, and take a little piece of San Leandro home. ... Since 1988, the society has grown to 20 members and has been working to restore the depot building — built in 1898 to replace the depot originally built there by the Central Pacific Railroad — to resemble its 19th-century decor. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Thursday, December 21, 2006

First "telecommuter"

Did you know that "the first 'telecommuter' was a woman railway telegrapher who 'operated' from her home's parlor because the depot was regarded as unsuitable as a workplace for a single girl in the pre Civil War era."?

[Courtesy Neill Herring, from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

Solano Ferry Model

From: "Eddy Matthews"

I looked at [the] model of the CPRR Solano and was in awe! An absolutely beautiful piece of work!

I'd like to make a fully operational radio controlled model of the Solano, and wondered if any plans were available anywhere? ...

I live in England (UK), and run a website devoted to modelling paddlers of all descriptions ... , so I hope you will be able to see I'm serious and not just another time waster! :-)

If you can help in any way I'd be extremeply grateful....

Eddy Matthews
32 Whitley Road
TS17 9HZ

Monday, December 18, 2006

Chinese American history volunteer group

From: "Sandy Chan"

... we promote Chinese American history and are a volunteer group. We would like to promote your website and the history to a wide audience. ... We really want a wide audience to know about this important history and the great website you have. ...

—Sandy Chan

1902-1908 Harriman realignment map

From: "Katy Tahja"

We're driving west from Salt Lake in January, 2007 and would like to see some of the grades and curves of track bed that got lopped off when the 1902-1908 Harriman realignment took place in Utah and Nevada.

Is there any map that shows the original route PLUS what got eliminated? ...

You have a GREAT website. Thanks.

Katy Tahja and her ferroequanologist (Train loving) husband David.
P.O. Box 194, Comptche, CA 95427

Old coachs at Radium, California


Would very much like to know the history of now gone car bodies at Radium, California, near Plcasonton, Ca. Three very old cars built into section houses (SPCo.).........

1. one C.P.R.R. coach with small windows
2. one small duck bill coach (CPRR) very OLD !!!!!
3. And a big wood baggage car built into a tool house.

—Charlie Hopkins

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Lewis Metzler Clement Cable Car Switch Patent


Patent number: 379306
Issue date: Mar 13, 1888

Lewis Clement Turntable Patent


Lewis Clement had a turntable patent   

Patent number: 427970
Filing date: Mar 3, 1880
Issue date: May 13, 1890
Inventor: LEWIS M. CLEMENT  


Saturday, December 16, 2006

United States Pacific Railway Commission, 1887 Report

The volumes of the United States Pacific Railway Commission, 1887 Report are now accessible online, courtesy of the Google Library Project and the Stanford and Princeton University Libraries:

... [Report ... of the United States Pacific Railway Commission and Testimony Taken by the... By United States Pacific Railway Commission

"[pt. I] Message from the President of the United States transmitting the reports of the ... commission. Report of the commission and of the minority commissioner. –pt. 2-9 (vol. I-VIII) Testimony.–pt. 10 (vol. IX) Alphabetical, analytical and topical index of testimony, reports of accountants and engineer, and of the commissioners ... by Edward C. Manners."

Friday, December 15, 2006

Patents for Buntin Seats, etc.


Items for the Central Pacific Wason and Gilbert & Bush coaches as delivered in 1869. (Brakes also for the Silver Palace Cars.)

I've finally located the Buntin seat patent of 1867 - turns out to be a design patent.
Patent number: D2609
Issue date: April 2, 1867

He also has a regular seat arm rest patent.
Patent number: 121486
Issue date: December 5, 1871
reissued as
Patent number: RE5158
Issue date: November 26, 1872

Also several Creamer brake patents

Patent number: 10321
Issue date: Dec 20, 1853
Inventor: G. CREAMER

Patent number: 16004
Issue date: Nov 4, 1856

Patent number: 73509
Issue date: Jan 21, 1868

The Creamer seat patent may also have some relevance.

Patent number: 74510
Issue date: Feb 18, 1868

There's also a nice selection of Creamer vents

Patent number: 33071
Issue date: Aug 20, 1861
Inventor: G. CREAMER

Patent number: 89974 - I know this one was used in the CP Commissioner's Car now at NSRM
Issue date: May 11, 1869

Patent number: 164636
Filing date: Nov 17, 1874
Issue date: Jun 22, 1875

Patent number: 165797
Filing date: May 31, 1875
Issue date: Jul 20, 1875


Buntin railroad seat

Buntin railroad seat

Buntin railroad seat

Buntin railroad seat

Buntin railroad seat

Buntin railroad seat

Buntin railroad seat

Buntin railroad seat

"Early George Buntin & Co. train seat that was manufactured in the 1870's, purchased out of a home, and was re-upholstered in the 1970's. The cast is loaded with fine details on both ends of the seat along with makers name, place, and the patent dates. Seat measures 42" wide x 28" high x 24" deep. Seat back flips over so passengers can face the direction that the train is traveling, when the train reaches the end of a run and reverses direction. Cast iron is signed in two areas, 'George Buntin & Co. Philadelphia, PA. Patented Dec. 5, 1871 Reissued Nov. 2nd 1872.' Also, under each armrest is the name 'G. Buntin.' Armrests are made of cast iron, and wooden foot rest for each travel direction was replaced when this item was refurbished around 1970."
Courtesy Allan Collette, owner, New England Salvage.

Buntin railroad seat

Buntin railroad seat

Buntin railroad seat

Buntin railroad seat
Buntin Seat, 4/2/1867
Courtesy Pat Treash.

Folsom turntable


I stumbled across the following turntable patent, granted in 1861 to a man in Folsom.

Patent number: 33294
Issue date: September 17, 1861


"Rocklin's 19th Century Chinatown"

"Rocklin's 19th Century Chinatown" by Gary Day, © Rocklin Today, December 15, 2006. (News Article)

"... by 1876 a few of the railroad’s 14,000 Chinese construction workers had settled in Rocklin. Some grew for-sale vegetables in the area southeast of town known as "China Garden." Many worked at Rocklin’s roundhouse. About 1,000 Chinese laborers lived and worked at the Whitney Ranch building water courses and stone fences.

Rocklin’s Chinatown consisted of about 25 homes located immediately northwest of the roundhouse. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Google now searches patents

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

C.P. Huntington wine, commemorative collection, 1980


I have an unopened bottle of C.P. Huntington wine, commemorative collection No. 1, collectors bottle No. 0086. ... This bottle holds an Zinfandel early release of 1980.  The bottle was wrapped in a yellowed two sided letter describing the selections presented to the California State Railroad Museum to be placed in the cornerstone time capsule.  A guess of the value would be appreciated.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Building next to an active rail line

From: "JD Maher",

I need help.  I'm helping a friend research regarding building next to a rail line.  He owns a commercial building with an acre behind, which buts up to an active rail line.  He would like to use and build on his property.  Where can I find information regarding his rights as a property owner next to an active rail line.

—John Maher

Question concerning stereo pictures

... I have an antique store. In my posession are about 50+ stereo [views] and I have no idea what or who purchases these. Would it be possible to respond to me as to who might be interested? ...

—Francesca Hawthorne

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Student Questions - National History Day


... I am writing to request an interview with you for my “National History Day Project.” The NHD Project is an annual national history competition for middle school students. Each year there is a specific theme. This year, the theme is Triumph and Tragedy. My topic is the Triumph and Tragedy of Chinese laborers working on the CP Railroad.

Your website has been great in my research, and I hope to have you as an interview and primary source. ...

... some questions ...

1. How did the perception of the Chinese people and their culture change from the beginning of the construction process to the end?

2. How did the wages of Chinese workers differ from that of Irish and non-chinese workers? If there was a major difference, did it change by the end of construction?

3. What, in your opinion, would have happened in the construction of the railroad if Chinese workers were not employed? How would it have effected history in general?

4. How many Chinese laborer died at Cape Horn alone?

5. What percentage of the deaths for workers were Chinese?

6. How did the Chinese' customs and general behavior differ from the white workers at the time?

7. Can you describe, in detail, what the method used by the Chinese to clear out huge rock outcroppings?

8. What long-term effects, if any, did the use of Chinese labor have on the general culture of the United States? California especially.

9. What, in your opinion, were some of the greatest tragedies of this event? also, what were some of the greatest triumphs that resulted from it?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Flavius B. Clement, b. New York c. 1827, d. Sacramento CA 1864

From: "Wendell Huffman"  

On 16 January 1864 a train of three flat cars pushed by the locomotive "Gov. Stanford" and carrying an excursion party derailed on the curve at 6th between G and H streets in Sacramento. Several passengers were injured. The only fatality was one Flavius B. Clement of the railroad company's engineering department, who was thrown from the cars. If not the CPRR's first fatality, he was certainly one of the first. Prior to February 1859 he was located in Monterey county.  

Was he related to Lewis Metzler Clement?  


Impact of the transcontinental railroad

From: Michael Ferrie

I am doing a project on the transcontinental railroad for history at school and I was looking for pages concerning the impact on white Americans during and after the railroad was built. I was searching on the web and can't find anything ... —

Michael Ferrie

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Last Spike ceremony images and the way they portrayed race

From: "Sara Hudson"

I am a student working on a paper about the day of the Last Spike ceremony and the images that circulated that day, and over the next decade, and the way they portrayed race in the railroad as an "American" project. ... Because I'm interested in race, I'm very interested in the comparison of Thomas Hill's portrait and the key to the portrait, in which the Chinese and Native Americans are not shown. ...

Many thanks for your help, and your extraordinary website.


Reparations for the families of those who died building the transcontinental railroad

From: "Kaity Kao"

I'm writing a school paper and was wondering if you could help me:

1. Were there ever any reparations for the families of those (mostly Asians) who died building the transcontinental railroad?

2. Also do you know if there were any court cases brought regarding the building of the transcontinental railroad by any of those Asians?


Monday, December 04, 2006

Hewett Joural Box Patent


Well, I found the Hewett journal box patent – for the lid.  Interesting it is in the name of Susemihl & Hewitt, although in the reissue Susemihl assignes it to Hewitt.

Patent #192,199
Reissue #8,947

Used by many standard and narrow gauge railroads, including the CP and SP, the Carson & Colorado, and others.  Hewett shared offices in Chicago with the Thielsen truck folks.  


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Responding to student questions

See the related comments regarding how to repond to student questions.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Student Questions

1. How much would the journey cost and what would be included for the price of a ticket on the Transcontinental Railroad?
Train Fares

2. How would passengers eat their meals and sleep on this journey?
Sleeping Cars and Meals
Sleeping Cars
Nightime Travel

3. How long would the journey take before the advent of the Transcontinental Railroad and how long would it have taken in the 1870's by train?

4. What land would be for sale along the way and what would be the advantages of settling on it?
CPRR Lands
Land for Sale

Student Questions - National History Day Interview

I am doing a project on the Transcontinental Railroad for National History Day. One of our requirements is that we need an interview. So I was wondering if there was someone I could email questions to or contact to ask questions. ...

The theme of our history fair is triumph and tragedy. Just answer as many questions as you can the best you can and then send them back as soon as possible. ...

Here are our questions:

1. What were the economic benefits that came from the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad?

2. What were some engineering successes of the Transcontinental Railroad?

3. Do you know approximately how many Native Americans were killed? or how many survived?

4. Do you think the building of the Transcontinental Railroad was the biggest transportation breakthrough up until this time? of the 19th century?

5. How did the railroads effect trade in the U.S. and internationally?

6. What do you think was the greatest achievement of the Transcontinental Railroad?

7. Do you think the Transcontinental Railroad was more of a triumph or more of a tragedy? or equal parts both?


CPRR Discussion Group

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