Sunday, January 08, 2006

Buddha Head figurines at Cape Horn


I'm ... writing ... to inquire about historic artifacts that were recently unearthed in the Cape Horn area. These artifacts are: NUMEROUS (hundreds?) Buddha Head figurines all ranging in size from a dime to a silver dollar. These Buddha heads were obviously poured from original carved castings, the material is extremely dense and polished and has the consistency and finish of fine porcelain or polished ivory. There are several hundred artifacts most of them Buddhas, but also there were other figures approximately the same size, these other figures included porcelain "seashell shapes", conical shapes, "button shapes" with colored enamel overlays including red, blue and emerald green.

We are attempting to identify, date and determine their origin and what these pieces were used for. It is speculated that they were used by the chinese for gambling since they were not allowed to possess gold?

No one has been able to identify them or even show other examples of like pieces in the Chinese camps during the gold rush era.

ALL of these pieces were found very near the Cape Horn area and would be very interested in any information or help that you might provide in further investigating or identifying these very old and historic artifacts. ...

Here are a couple of photos of the pieces that I have. So far I have identified approximately 8 different unique pieces. Each of these pieces is complete and unbroken (not part of a larger piece), except the "half" Buddha face piece in the picture which represents the largest shape of the "set." The one that is next to the "1" is a complete piece and is the largest of the pieces.

The backside of each piece clearly indicates that these pieces were "cast" or poured from porcelain or a similar very dense hard material. ... Out of the several hundred pieces I've looked at, it appears that that there are dozens of "original" molds for each shape.

In my opinion, it appears that these may have been used by the Chinese as "gambling money" or for trading ... the questions i have though is ...

1) Origin: Were they cast here or in China. How old are they?
2) Did other Chinese camps in the gold country use these same pieces or were they exclusive to the Cape Horn camps / area?
3) Historical significance?
4) Are there others out there?
5) Value?
6) The Chinese buddhas were historically the "fatter, happier Buddha" – Is it possible that these are Japanese? Cambodian? (My guess is that they must be Chinese because of their locale.)

—Jim Bowers, Colfax, California

Buddha at Cape Horn.

Buddha at Cape Horn.

Buddha at Cape Horn.

1870 Rocklin roundhouse


Check out the O'Sullivan USGS photo of the CP Rocklin roundhouse (mislabeled UP) in 1870.


Timothy O'Sullivan photograph of the Central Pacific Railroad Roundhouse at Rocklin, California.  Courtesy USGS.
Timothy O'Sullivan photograph of the Central Pacific Railroad Roundhouse at Rocklin, California.
Courtesy USGS.

Colorized view of the Rogers-built Buffalo No. 82 at Rocklin Roundhouse in 1870. Courtesy of Jim Wilke.
Rogers-built Buffalo No. 82 at Rocklin Roundhouse in 1870.
Colorized detail of above photo courtesy of Jim Wilke, see comment, below.

SP Pay Car Steamcar


Thought you all would be interested in the "pay car" photo – which I believe is actually taken while it was on the Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Company.

SP Pay Car Steamcar

SP Pay Car Steamcar


Wow - what a great photo - one I have never seen before. But I know the steam car well. With you permission, I'd like to share it with the CPRR Museum discussion group.

In brief, I'd guess that this photo was taken on the Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Company arond the turn of the century after the car had been taken out of service. Note there is no pump or injector connected to the check valve on the boiler, and the pilot is missing. The clothing of the men supports this dating. Attached is a photo taken slightly earlier on the Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Company, but also after it was out of service. Note in this photo it has its pilot, but the pump or injector is also missing. Also attached is a low resolution copy of Fredric Shaw's drawing of the steam car.

Much of the information you were sent is inaccurate. Following is a brief summary of what the car actually is,

In 1865 Vulcan Iron Works in San Francisco built a 2-2-0 mechanism that was used in a steam car (the car body believed to have been built by Henry Casebolt). This was the Napa Valley RR steam car "Napa". In 1867 a second Napa Valley steam car named "Calistoga" was built by Vulcan and (we think) Casebolt. In 1869 the California Pacific took over the Napa Valley RR, and the steam cars came under that ownership. Fairly quickly the "Calistoga" was sold to the Vaca Valley RR (later reorganized as the Vaca Valley & Clear Lake). In 1875 it was burned in an engine house fire destroying the car body, and was rebuilt in the Central Pacific Sacramento Shops (under A. J. Stevens, Central Pacific Master Mechanic) as a 2-2-0 locomotive with tender. The steam car "Napa" (which may have received the informal nickname "Flea" on the California Pacific) served various functions on the California Pacific including possibly as the pay train. About 1874 the steam car was sold to the Visalia RR as their first motive power (and only power until 1877 when the Baldwin 2-4-4T arrived). Later it may have served in the construction of the Visalia & Tulare, although this is not fully confirmed. Sometime in this period it was also rebuilt in the Central Pacific Sacramento Shops (again under A. J. Stevens). In the late 1880s the steam car went to the San Joaquin Valley Coal Company. An early 1890s account by its engineer appears to be the source of the mis-information that it operated on the Market Street RR in San Francisco. In 1896, several years after the San Joaquin Valley Coal Company closed down, the steam car was sold to the Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Company near Truckee where it was #4 (1st). Retired around the turn of the century, it was eventually stored in a meadow that burned in a grass fire, destroying the car body. The 2-2-0 locomotive portion remained derilict for several years until it was confused with the former Central Pacific #4 "T. D. Judah" (a 4-2-4T, rebult by Central Pacific as a 4-2-2 tender engine). the little Vulcan 2-2-0 was shipped to Sacramento for preservation. When it was realized that it was not, in fact, the "Judah", it was left in a back area of the Shops, and reportedly eventually buried in fill. It may still be there, and we have hopes we might find it during the HazMat remediation now going on at the Shops.

I am familiar with the Market Street RR steam cars as well. All of them had the locomotive mechanism completely enclosed within the car body, and none of them had lead trucks. This steam car clearly is not one of them.

Thanks very much for sharing the photo.

—Kyle Wyatt, Curator of History & Technology, California State Railroad Museum

In a message dated 1/7/2006 10:35:27 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, SP Flimsie writes:

Hi Ken, Here's the photo I posted on last week. It isn't a very good photo, but I found it interesting. I asked for information and I received this reply from John Sweetser. I'd like to hear of anything you have to add or correct. I will place all information in our chapter archives.

—Tony Johnson, Southern Oregon Chapter, NRHS

From: John Sweetser

If one believes 1898 and 1899 articles in the Fresno Democrat, then this engine/car combination was indeed a pay car.

From the link provided by Southern-Pacific-fan, I found an article "When Steam Ran on the Streets of San Francisco Part II" that apparently tells of the origin of this locomotive.

The article, on Joe Thompson's "The Cable Car Home Page" and originally in the Jan/Feb 2001 issue of Live Steam magazine (authors Walter Rice & Emiliano Echeverria), states that Market Street Railroad engine No. 4 was built in 186l by Albion Foundary in San Francisco and used on the Market Street Railroad until 1867.

Then according to various newspaper articles I've found, the engine subsequently was:

Operated by the Central Pacific. Exact years operated not known.

Operated by the Visalia Railroad from 1874 to 1877.

Operated by the San Joaquin Valley Coal Mining Company between Coalinga and the company's mine in Coalmine Canyon from 1889 to 1893.

To the Sierra Lumber Company in late December 1899 or Janaury 1900.

Here are the articles about its Central Pacific use:

Dec. 1, 1898 Tulare County Times, originally from the Fresno Democrat – "The old locomotive was in active service in the days of the construction of the Central Pacific eastward from Sacramento...The first use to which it was put to having been that of a pay-car. Millions upon millions of dollars have been dispersed through the window of the caboose attachment to the locomotive."

Then the article quoted two somewhat different recollections of the engine:

SP car inspector S.E. Johnson: "That old mill ... is the old Stanford pay-car No. 1. She's a Whitney engine, made in New York for the C.P. and was cent around Cape Horn to San Francisco in 1865."

The second sentence above is apparently incorrect based on the article about the Market Street Railroad in Live Steam that indicated the locomotive was built in San Francisco.

Johnson continued: "The car is in two compartments - one nearest the tender for the private quarters of the paymaster and the other at the rear end for the pay office. She was numbered 1 and became to be known to every railroad man as Pay Car No. 1 - the "Old Stanford." She was run for four years or more over the Central Pacific line from Sacramento to Virginia City, on the western division."

CP No. 1, the Governor Stanford, however, is widely considered to be totally different locomotive.

Johnson's continued: "Then after awhile she was put on mixed passenger and freight business on one of the branch roads running out of Sacramento. I'm pretty sure it was Redding. No change was ever made in her appearance , and she was the same old combination that she is today, with the front end of the caboose covering the tender and the engineer's box...

"After running awhile to Redding she was transferred or laid up until about nine years ago, when 'Old Stanford No. 1' was bought by the San Joaquin Valley Coal Mining Company ... On one side of the caboose ... you can yet make out the letters and figures:


Johnson made no mention of the engine being used on the Visalia Railroad but the next person quoted in the newspaper article did tell of this:

"Why yes, I know of that old engine – 'Old Betsy' – and I have ridden behind her many a time when I was a kid," declared Mart Thomas, the pressman. "I remember her sometime in the 70's when she was run on the Market Street extension in San Francisco. The steam line used to run from the lower end of Market street ... out Market street to Hays park ...

"I was in Visalia when the old engine was brought there and when she was nicknamed 'Betsy.' She was put on the seven-mile branch road from Visalia to Goshen [the Visalia Railroad].

"I remember when she was bought in Visalia for the coal mine where J.B. O'Conner was engineer of her ..."

An article in the Dec. 16, 1899 Hanford Daily Journal that was reprinted from the previous day's issue of the Fresno Democrat about refurbishing the locomotive for the Sierra Lumber company stated the engine "ran a long time on the Sacramento division, and then did switch work in the yards at the capital city. The article ended with: "The Southern Pacific employes want to give "Old Stanford" a good send off at parting, as the cab at the rear of the engine was the old time pay car – the first ever run from Lathrop southward through the valley, when Fresno was but a village..."

It is possible the Fresno Democrat's claim that the engine was the old pay car may be based just on car inspector Johnson's statements that were reprinted in the Dec. 1, 1898 Tulare County Times. It is evident that Johnson made a number of misstatements. The photo posted by Tony Johnson, though, may corroborate the claim the engine served as a pay car. I am bothered by the fact that I haven't seen any mention of this engine in any reference books about CP/SP locomotives, however.

The engine arrived on the Visalia Railroad in July 1874 (reported in the July 25 Tulare Times). The Dec. 28, 1876 Iron Age (a Visalia newspaper) reported that a new locomotive was being manufactured to replace it. Gerald Best in issue 259 of The Western Railroader (the page with Visalia Railroad locomotive roster) told of the engine's use on the Visalia Railroad and the San Joaquin Valley Coal Mining Company but had a different verision of its earlier background:

"The combination engine and car mentioned in the text is the engine "Old Betsy" which later ran on the San Joaquin Valley Coal Mining Company line at Coalinga and ended its days at Hobart Mills. Pictures and drawings appeared in issues 100 and 259 of The Western Railroader. It started life as a 2-2-0 poney engine on the Vaca Valley Railroad and later ran on several Southern Pacific branch lines. It was used to build the Visalia Railroad and apparently used until the engines listed above [two 2-4-4s that were built in 1877] went into service."

The San Joaquin Valley Coal Mine Company railroad was built in 1889 and was a little over three miles long, going northwest from Coalinga in a beeline to the mine in Coalmine Canyon. Besides the coal mine line, the railroad also operated the six miles of the Alcade branch from Coalinga to Alcade for the SP. The engine was used until replaced in March 1893 (reported in the March 10, 1893 Daily Morning Delta of Visalia). For two photos of the engine in the collection of the Coalinga Huron Library District, posted on the web as part of the San Joaquin Valley Digitization Project, go to:

Photo #1 and Photo #2.

The first photo matches the drawing of No. 4 of the Market Street Raiload in the Live Steam article almost exactly except for some minor changes around the engineer's door. Note that the coal mining company's lettering as described by car inspector Johnson can be seen on the side.

Question to Tony Johnson: does the photo you posted show a arched window toward the rear of the car portion? I can't tell from the thumbnail photos I see on Trainorders.

—John Sweetser