Wednesday, February 28, 2007


From: "Bob Lamontagne"
[Re: Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad]

... the BMLRR is now the BMLRRPS a non-profit organization. We reopened with passenger excursions late in 2006 in Unity and are looking forward to 2007 with more rail events and expanded facilities. Part of our expansion and development plans for 2007 is the first phase of our new museum and historic rail car display ...

Bob Lamontagne

1870s, 1880s Employee Timetables

From: "Don Ball"

I am looking for employee timetables for the Western Division in the 1870s and 1880s specifically the section for the Stockton & Copperopolis Railroad. If anyone can point me in the right direction for who might have such a thing, it would be appreciated.

—Don Ball

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Central Pacific Sacramento Mainline


I'm looking for some solid historical evidence on a couple of points.

First, I know that Judah's 1863 report described the mainline as being on the route arching around the north edge of the original shops site (actually creating the levee that defined that north edge of the Shops). I also know that the original track out of town actually turned off Front Street onto I Street, turned north on 6th Street, and then connected with what became the final alignment about D Street heading east on the City levee to Elvas and the American River bridge.

So my question is two part –
1. When was the line around the north edge of the Shops site actually built?
2. When did the CP switch from running their trains out I Street and start using the line around the Shops?

And a related question – when Leland Stanford's special to Promontory with the assorted spikes left Sacramento, which track did they take?


Saturday, February 24, 2007

CPRR Land Deed, signed by son Charles F. Crocker, 1891


I have an original deed for the CPRR, signed by Charles Crocker ... 1891. ...

—Gary Brucato, Jr.

... original Land Deed between wealthy American railroad baron Charles F. Crocker ... , Charles M. Jesup and Beverly Chew of the Metropolitan Trust Company of New York, and a Mr. George Eno, to whom Crocker was apparently selling 69 acres in the South East Quarter of California, near Mount Diablo, originally set aside for the extension of his railroad, for the sum of $210.00. ...

The piece— which is dated July 21st, 1891— is boldly signed in black fountain pen by Charles F. Crocker, C.P.R.R. Co. Secretary E.H. Miller, Jr., Charles M. Jesup, Beverly Chew, California Deeds Commissioner Joseph B. Braman, and Notary Republic E.B. Ryan. Its bears gold seals from Braman and the Metropolitan Trust Company, as well as depression seals by Ryan and the C.P.R.R. The latter ... features a railroad traveling past a mountain range! ...

CPRR Land Deed, 1891. Courtesy of Gary Brucato,  Jr.

CPRR Land Deed, 1891. Courtesy of Gary Brucato,  Jr.

CPRR Land Deed, 1891. Courtesy of Gary Brucato,  Jr.

CPRR Land Deed, 1891. Courtesy of Gary Brucato,  Jr.

CPRR Land Deed, 1891. Courtesy of Gary Brucato,  Jr.

CPRR Land Deed, 1891. Courtesy of Gary Brucato,  Jr.
Courtesy of Gary Brucato, Jr.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

March 19, 20, 24, 1882 - Tombstone Arizona


I have been looking for three steam train pictures and numbers plus names of each train crew.

This would be from Contention, Arizona the first train by the new spur line Feb. 5, 1882 then went to Benson, AZ then to Tucson, AZ. This was a West bound train going to Colton, California. This trip was 449 miles total!

Trying to find out how many hours that trip would take, (14) hours?
It was the Southern Pacific line!

I have some names for March 20, 1882.
Conductor: Z.T. Vail.
Engineer: S.A. Batman.
Fireman: James Miller.
Engineer: R.E. Mellis.
Brakeman: Clark.
Want to make sure before I go on with my story.

I just can not find the right places to ask. Or get no response. If I am wrong again could you please inform me as to where to look? Please.

This is research for March 19, 1882.
First train took James Earp and his dead brother Morgan home to Colton, California for burial on March 21, 1882 .

Second train March 20, takes Virgil Earp and wife Allie to Colton, for safety,

Third train takes Mrs. James Earp's wife (Bessie) and Mrs. Wyatt Earp wife (Mattie) home to Colton where she would wait for Wyatt; he never returned to her!

Thank you for you help and time.

—Jim Petersen

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Trade and Population increases due to the RR


I am currently doing a high school project on the transcontinental railroad. I was wondering if you had any type of graph or chart that shows trade or population increase in the West due to the railroad.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Green River Station, 1904

From: "Mark Chaplin"
Subject: Question Can you help identify the location of this station

I am captioning a book about Franklin Motor Cars. In 1904 this car traveled from San Francisco to New York. I don't know if this station was located in Wyoming, Utah, or wherever. Unfortunately, I don't know my western rail stops. I'd really appreciate if you could identify the location of the station.

—Mark H. Chaplin

Green River Station, 1904. Courtesy of Mark H. Chaplin.

Green River Station, 1904.
Courtesy of Mark H. Chaplin.

Digital Cameras & Electronics

Thanks to the sponsors of the site, which include a great site for digital cameras, Digital Camera HQ, and a related site for a number of categories of consumer electronics,

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sunday trains

From: "Wendell Huffman"

With the completion of the transcontinental railroad, the Central Pacific began operating trains on Sundays. This was clearly a more appropriate alternative than leaving passengers and crews sitting wherever they happened to be until the Sabbath had passed. I do believe that the CPRR operated Sunday trains for a brief period at the commencement of operations back in 1864, but the change in 1869 was so notable that it was remarked in the newspaper (Sacramento Bee, 21 May 1869).

My question is, how common were Sunday trains before Promontory? What had the UPRR been doing?

It strikes me that this change played a role in the gradual alteration of American society, perhaps a silent consequence of the Pacific railroad. But what do we know about the context?

Wendell W. Huffman
Curator of History
Nevada State Railroad Museum
2180 South Carson Street
Carson City, NV 89701
(775) 687-8291 v
(775) 687-8294 f

Monday, February 12, 2007

Gunnison/Beckwith Reports

From: "Wendell Huffman"

... regarding Gunnison's authorship of the report in Vol. 2 of the Army's Pacific Railroad Survey, Gunnison was killed before ever reaching Salt Lake City in 1854. (He had been previously-1849-50 I believe-with the Stansbury expedition). How much of that report can be attributed to Gunnison is subject to doubt, but I believe what we read is properly credited to Beckwith, who had the time to write in while wintering in Salt Lake after Gunnison's death.


Wendell W. Huffman
Curator of History
Nevada State Railroad Museum
2180 South Carson Street
Carson City, NV 89701
(775) 687-8291 v
(775) 687-8294 f

Chinese and Pox

From: "Chris Graves"

I have four letters from the Huntington Records Collection that speak of smallpox on the grade ... here are excerpts that are of interest:

From E B Crocker, dated Jan. 23, 1869:

"........Small Pox (cases?) are abated and I think from this time on we ought to be able to send a largely increased quantity (of wood) and ties to the front...."

From E B Crocker, dated Jan. 28, 1869:

".....the small pox scare is over...."

From E B Crocker, dated March 16, 1869:

".....our track laying force were seized with a small pox (---?) the other day and became demoralized to a great extent no real cause for apprehension, but you can't reason with such men—no one has broken out lately, so we hope it will soon pass over."

January 20, 1869, from Charles Crocker:

"....the small pox completely [immobilized] our track laying force and they could not have laid much more if they had it—as very nearly all the white men left the work and most of our best foremen also. We are breaking in the Chinese and learning them as fast as possible.........." and then " the midst of trouble Stro (----?) sick with a very bad cold and afraid it was the small pox as the symptoms are very similiar. Men running off scared out of their senses. Two cases of small pox among the wood choppers at Elko-thermometer at 10° below zero..."

From Mark Hopkins, January 31, 1869:

".... The small pox is abating at the end of the track—only one new case there last week, nearly all that died went into the pest cars, those that did not die increased the panic among the men more than those who died and "told no tales."

(emphasis mine)


Oakland Daily News, January 19, 1869.

Small-Pox on the Railroad.  Oakland Daily News, January 19, 1869.  Courtesy of Wendell Huffman.

Small-Pox on the Railroad.

We take the following from the Virginia Safeguard of January 11th [1869]:
This terrible disease seems to have been scattered along the entire length of the railroad, there being scarcely a station from Sacramento to Elko that does not boast of from one to three cases. At Elko, Tracy, the husband of Mrs. Tracy and the father of Miss Helen Tracy, both celebrated actresses, was taken down a few days ago, and subsequently removed to Fort Halleck for medical treatment. Several other cases are reported in the vicinity of the terminus of the road and at Argenta, Winnemucca and Wadsworth. At Reno they have three cases one at Truckee, four at Dutch Flat, and as many more each about Colfax and Auburn. The disease, however, thus far, has not proved fatal along the line of the railroad, except in a very few instances.
Courtesy of Wendell Huffman.

Portrait of Asa Whitney???

From: "John Bentley"

I am doing some historical research for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. In our archives we have uncovered an oil painting identified only as "Mr. Whitney." I am wondering if it is Asa Whitney, the man who first proposed the idea of the transcontinental railroad. Thus far my research has been stalled and I am trying to find a picture or Mr. Whitney to compare to the portrait we have. ...

John Bentley
Public Relations Dept.
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers
Cleveland, Ohio

Sacramento Valley at R Street - and CP Leaving Town


Have you ever found much about Sacramento Valley shop facilities in Sacramento (I assume around R Street). I do have the map reprinted in the Western Railroader in a Sacramento Valley Railroad article, but that is for planned facilities, not already constructed. And when did they pull out from here and focus on Folsom for the shops?

I'm gathering info on early Sacramento Shops.

Another point – in the Sacramento County Historical Society's Golden Notes of Nov 1973 (Vol 19, No 4), pg 15 bottom, the claim is made that the CP trains leaving the depot continued to run out I Street to 6th, thence to the B Street levee until Feb. 26, 1870. This is supposedly based on Steve Helmich research that contradicts traditional lore. We all know this is the original route of the Central Pacific Railroad out of town, but 1870 seems VERY late for them to still be using that track for passenger service instead of the curve around the shops. The article has work starting on the route around the shops on Oct 16, 1866, which seems reasonable. Feb 26, 1867 might even be a reasonable completion date. But 1870??!! the line is clearly in place when the Houseworth photos are taken showing the shop fill being built and the back wall of the roundhouse under construction. I've tentatively dated this photo as Dec 1867 or Jan 1868 – plus or minus. Also, the map the CP prepared when trying to prevent the California Pacific Railroad from entering the City shows the I Street track cut at the Front Street end, but still connected at the B Street levee end at 6th. This map must date from late 1869, when the Cal P was building their new bridge (which is shown on the CP map). Have you come across anything?

I also note that Dave Joslyn puts the Goss & Lombard foundry on the northEAST corner of I and 2nd Streets, this seemingly copied by all articles since then. But their ad lists them as being on I Street between Front and 2nd, which would be the north WEST corner – the site occupied now by the entrance to the California State Railroad Museum. How appropriate that the Governor Stanford locomotive, which was originally put together and set up for operations by Goss & Lombard, now sits where their shop used to be.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Meadow Lake

From: "Jim Kluksdahl"

I'm searching for photos of Meadow Lake in your excellent archive.  Can you give me a link please?  

It's north of CISCO.  


Houseworth stereoview #1288, Meadow Lake, Summit City. Courtesy of the Ken Harstine Collection.

Houseworth stereoview #1288, Meadow Lake, Summit City.
Courtesy of the Ken Harstine Collection.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Graduate Research Paper: Accidents while building the Transcontinental Railroad

From: "Lisa M Ortciger",

My name is Lisa Ortciger and I am a history graduate student at Western Illinois University. I am interested in writing a research paper on accidents that occured while building the Transcontinental Railroad. I am hoping that you can facilitate this paper by pointing me in the direction of documents and or books related to this subject as well as any other information you may have. ...

—Lisa Ortciger

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Bee rode the caboose of railroad's rapid rise"

"Bee rode the caboose of railroad's rapid rise" by Steve Wiegand, © The Sacramento Bee, February 7, 2007. (News Article)

Article about the pro vs. con railroad editorial policies of the Sacramento newspapers, c. 1869.

"In the months leading up to its completion, The [Sacramento] Bee published dozens of pieces about the railroad. ... Bee co-owner Jeremiah O'Leary was among the guests on a special VIP train from Sacramento [to Promontory], and he sent back detailed dispatches to the paper along the way. ... the Central Pacific's owners first tried to sell their creation rather than try and operate the railroad themselves. After failing to peddle it for $20 million, they decided to try another route. They began to swallow up their competition in all its forms. They absorbed rival rail companies, including the Southern Pacific ... The railroad company became the biggest landowner in California as well as the state's chief employer. ... By the mid 1870s, the [Sacramento] railyard was a mini-city, employing 700 people.

... James Anthony, the Sacramento Union's principal owner, positively hated [the CPRR]. ... a 'memorial' printed in The Bee that repudiated the Union's anti-railroad stand ... bore the names of more than 500 people ... [The Bee's] exasperated McClatchy ... proclaimed in an editorial: 'The Union is a wicked paper. ... it is notoriously conscienceless ...' ... The Central Pacific refused to carry [the Sacramento Union] or allow it to be sold on its trains ... the Union owners put the paper up for sale. It was sold in February 1875 and merged with the Sacramento Record, a railroad-backed paper. The sale made The Bee the dominant paper in Northern California outside the Bay Area. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The San Francisco Round House

From: "Bob Tieslau"

I have been researching my family history and have just now gotten a picture of my Uncle, Henry Tieslau, with his work crew. There are about forty men in the picture. He was the owner of the company. On the back of the picture it says, San Francisco Roundhouse, 1915. His daughter is still alive and said that he built the roundhouse at that time. Maybe it was just an expansion, I don't know. It is a rather interesting picture. ...

Uncle Henry and his brother August also built the "Mousehole" in Truckee that goes under the railway which they talking about replacing. He did that in 1929.

... Do you have any information on the building of a roundhouse in San Francisco in 1915?

—Bob Tieslau

Henry Tieslau, with his work crew; San Francisco Roundhouse. Courtesy Bob Tieslau Collection.

Henry Tieslau, with his work crew; San Francisco Roundhouse.
Courtesy Bob Tieslau Collection.

Henry Tieslau and crew

Henry Tieslau and crew on the back it says, Roundhouse, San Francisco 1915
Henry is standing at the far right. He was the boss and the owner of the company that tore down some of the buildings and houses at the worlds fair on Yerba Buena Island. He had a scrap yard right where the Race Track is today. It was taken away from him by eminent domain because they said they wanted to build a road there but they built the track instead. He and his brother August had quite a company building roads and other things.

Bridges Crossing the Truckee River

From: "Larry Hersh"

The original five bridges spanning the Truckee River, of the CPRR, were of wooden construction. The first, third, fourth and fifth crossings, were of what I call a Burr Arch type construction. These bridges were later covered to protect against dry rot. Now, for an interesting part of this discussion. The Second Crossing of the Truckee River bridge appears to be that of a Howe Truss type, with a pier in the middle between both trusses. Was it too, later covered as the other four bridges? By the way, today one can still see the original "angular slopes" of the bridge abutments toward the top, (Fourth and Fifth) which supported the Burr Arches. I have not explored the First and Third crossings as of yet, to hopefully find the same type of abutment design, unless they have been covered over with concrete, such as the western abutment of the Fifth Crossing. When the weather warms up, I hope to photograph these locations post same.

Also, if anyone has the resources, please scan with very high resolution, Hart #308. It appears to me that, along the grade to the right of the depot, showing the track on the fill material of the 5th Crossing (the bridge has not been build as of yet, it is not visible in this photo), if one looks carefully, locate the box car and then the water tank cars, etc. along the grade. Now look at the very far end of the consist, and it appears to me that a locomotive headed in a westbound direction may be on the "temporary bridge" trackage just below to the north of the crossing approach. Gamma correction may be needed to lighten up the photo. Or perhaps, the locomotive is stopped at the end of the fill material to the bridge.

—Larry Hersh

Corrections of Ambrose


Some addendums to the corrections – it never pays to be overenthusiastic.


Page 27, photo caption:

"This is a Howe truss bridge across river at eagle gap."

This is another of A. A. Hart's original photographs #274 which was originally captioned "Bridge at Eagle Gap". The bridge is more accurately described as a "Burr Truss bridge" because of the arch through the members.

Actually, I'd describe this bridge as a Howe truss reinforced with a Burr arch. Burr's truss design was quite different.

Burr patent x2769, 1817

Howe patents 1685, 1840; 1711, 1840, reissued re175, 1850; 4726, 1846 (this one most significant)

Page 58, paragraph 3:

"On August 9 [1855] the first rail laid west of the Missouri [River] and the first in California was laid."

There were at least two railroads in California with iron rails before 1855. A contractors railroad in San Francisco even provided California's first railroad fatality in July 1851 with one S. Mellison crushed between a trains iron wheels and the iron rail. In 1853 a mining railroad with iron rail hauled ore from Virginia Hill to Auburn Ravine in Placer County. However, it is worth noting that both of these early lines were animal powered and not steam powered – and that they might more commonly be described as 'tramway" rather than railways. Also not mentioned is the Arcata & Mad River, incorporated as the Union Wharf and Plank Walk Company on Dec. 15, 1854 with a horse-powered common carrier wood rail line, which is commonly considered to be the first railroad in California (although clearly not the first used of railed vehicles).

Page 69, paragraph 1:

"[Theodore D.] Judah, the man who built the suspension bridge at Niagara Falls"

Theodore D. Judah was the Chief Engineer of the Niagara Gorge railroad which ran from Niagara Falls to Lewiston. The Niagara falls suspension bridge was designed and built in 1853 by John A. Roebling, who later built the Brooklyn Bridge.

If we are to be picky, the Brooklyn Bridge was designed by John Roebling, and construction started before John's untimely death. It was largely finished under his son, Washington A. Roebling, with able assistance by Washington's wife, Emily, who served as his eyes, ears and mouth on the job when Washington was laid up for an extended period with the bends during much of the construction.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

"Abandoned" Chinese Crews

Is there any evidence to support claims that Chinese crews were "abandoned" in Nevada once CPRR construction was completed?

Some examples of this myth:

Early American History Auctions writes: "The Central Pacific railroad gave birth to the town of Elko in 1868 as it pushed its tracks eastward. On New Year's Day in 1869, there were just a few tents among the sagebrush, but two weeks later, hastily laid out plots were selling for $300 to $500 each. By late 1869, Elko's population had climbed to 2,000. From that beginning, the town grew rapidly as a freight terminus to supply the mines in the region. In May 1869, when the Golden Spike was driven at Promontory Point Utah, linking the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads, the Chinese laborers from the Central Pacific's track crew were abandoned. On foot, hundreds headed west and many stayed in Elko. The Chinese built the first water system in Elko." [It turns out that this statement included in an eBay live auction was quoted from a Wikipedia article. When a correction was submitted to Wikipedia, it resulted in the original statement being deleted.]

"Elko is the sixth largest county in the United States, consisting of 17,181 square miles, as big as five of the New England states plus the District of Columbia. In May 1869, when the Golden Spike was driven at Promontory Point Utah, linking the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads. The Chinese laborers from the Central Pacific's track crew were abandoned. On foot, hundreds headed west and many stayed in Elko. One of their chief occupations during the summer months was the raising of vegetables for the town. Their gardens were mostly on the northern banks of the Humbolt River and were watered by hand. Eventually the Chinese built the first water system in Elko. They built a reservoir and dug a ditch to carry the water from Osino to the reservoir, a distance of 8-10 miles (right through what is now City Park)." —Elko Area History according to the Eklo Area Chamber of Commerce

Iris Chang wrote: "Of more immediate concern, the Central Pacific immediately laid off most of the Chinese workers, refusing to give them even their promised return passage to California. The company retained only a few hundred of them for maintenance work, some of whom spent their remaining days in isolated small towns along the way, a few living in converted boxcars."

[emphasis added]




Thursday, February 01, 2007

Miller's Platform & Couplers


Miller Couplers were used by many railroads on passenger equipment – and other high speed equipment such as fruit and silk cars used in passenger trains or at passenger train speeds. (Central Pacific, Denver & Rio Grande, and Northern Pacific had such cars, and maybe others did.) Note cars with Miller Hook couplers also had platforms, generally Miller patented platforms.

They were common between the 1860s and the 1890s, with a few applications lasting longer (such as the insular Boston Revere Beach & Lynn).

There was a slot in the face of the coupler that could accept a link.

Miller hooks were covered by the following patents:
#38057 Miller 1863
#46126 Miller 1865
#56594 Miller 1866

Check out the following web pages:

extensive coverage - also note links on the page.

a page from the Mid-Continent car.

discussion on Miller hooks, with particular reference to Central Pacific fruit cars. Note links, including to Miller drawings from the 1884/1888 Car Builder's Dictionary (note 1888 was a reprint of 1884 – and the 1888 issue has itself been reprinted in the 1970s.)

Also note:
The Development of the Semiautomatic Freight-Car Coupler, 1863-1893
Charles H. Clark
Technology and Culture, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Apr., 1972), pp. 170-208

This discussion also gives links for several Janney coupler patents - note you [may] need to download the Patent Office graphic viewer – free – to look at the images.

Restored cars with Miller couplers include:
Virginia & Truckee coach #4, Nevada State Railroad Museum
Milwaukee Lake Shore & Western coach #63, Mid-Continent Railway Museum
Southern Pacific combine #1010 (narrow gauge), society for the Preservation of Carter Railroad Resources (SPCRR), Ardenwood Regional Park, Fremont, California.

That should get you started.


[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

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