Friday, August 31, 2007

Wyatt Earp?


It this Wyatt Earp? or maybe one of his brothers? ... The person I bought it from said it was ... please let me know.

Thank you,


Wyatt Earp?

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Shasta's and Siskiyou counties ... old tracks

From: "Linda Diesslin"

... If you could suggest any where to find ... Shasta's and Siskiyou counties historical railroads ... old tracks ... it would be nice.


"Modesto owes its existence to the land, water, railroad."

"Modesto owes its existence to the land, water, railroad" by COLLEEN STANLEY BARE, © The Modesto Bee, August 30, 2007. (News Article)

"... Modesto's most important milestone was being founded in the first place. If it had not been for the ingenuity and perseverance of the Big Four (Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins and Collis Huntington), the Transcontinental Railroad probably would not have been completed in 1869. And, just seven months later, the Big Four would not have started construction of the Central Pacific Railroad through our valley. It was the arrival of that railroad that led to the growth of villages such as Modesto, Turlock, Merced and Fresno. Another milestone was rancher John Mitchell's refusal to let the Central Pacific put its rails through the town he owned, Paradise City. If he had agreed, and had paid the required tariff, the railroad company probably would have expanded Mitchell's town instead of starting a new one, a pattern it followed with other settlements. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Southern Pacific terminology

From: Adrian Ettlinger

... the SP was never officially named the Southern Pacific Railway. It was founded as the Southern Pacific Railroad, and became the Southern Pacific Company on the merger with the Central Pacific in 1885. ... the wording could appropriately be "Southern Pacific Company's Railway Lines." ...

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

California Roundhouses


The question has been raised, how many surviving brick roundhouses still standing in Califonria?  Perhaps a more pertinent questin is how many roundhousese of any type are still extant in California - darn few I bet.  San Jose is on a pallet, of course.  Sacramento is just brick footings.  Last I heard the Santa Barbara roundhouse (stucco over unknown structure) was still standing as a warehouse.  Jamestown is of course wood frame with corrugated metal.  Off the top of my head, I don't recall any other surviving roundhouses in California, brick or otherwise, but probably it's worth checking further.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Iron/steel rail collection

From: "Chris Graves"

A decision has been reached at this place to sell the iron and steel rail collection that has been a large part of this home for many many years. Some 75 pieces in all, it includes original construction rail, steel rail and various items from the old CPRR and SPRR grades. Also included are early pear rail specimens from other early California railroads.

Should anyone wish to see the entire list, kindly contact me directly, I would be pleased to forward that list to you.

Shipment could be a challenge, weight could be an issue.

G J Chris Graves
NewCastle, AltaCal'a
Winter's Summer Garden

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Panama Railroad Spike

From: "Steve Vann, Sr."

I came across this a Panama Railroad Spike mounted with ink pen and coin. I didn't see one exactly like it on your site. I was wondering if you knew anything about the coin.


Panama RR tie and spike

Panama RR tie and spike

Friday, August 24, 2007

A.J. Russell Photograph of the "Joining of the Rails"

From: "Derryl & Charles Cobbett"

The joining of the Central and Union Pacific Railroads is a magnificent moment in American History. I have seen the poster but I would like to know if there is a top quality print of the Joining of the Rails available for purchase? I would love to display the print in my home. My husband and I are collecting prints of great American historic events.

—Mrs. Charles Cobbett

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Grandfather was Engineer 1913-1943

From: "Phil Bianchi"
G, H & S.A. Railroad

My grandfather, Joshua Louis Bianchi of Victoria, Texas, was an engineer on this line [Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railway] from 1913-1943. Does anyone have info even though this may come under S.P.

He was born in Italy, and died in Victoria, TX in 1943.

—Phil Bianchi

Thursday, August 16, 2007

David D. Campbell, Schenectady Locomotive Works

From: "Andy Paterson"

David D. Campbell was one of the principal shareholders in the Schenectady Locomotive Works along with John Ellis. Was he also a locomotive engineer and where or when was he born? Also, where and when was William Buchanan born? He was the locomotive engineer who designed the Empire State Express, the first land transport vehicle to exceed 100 mph.

—Andy Paterson, Sydney, Australia

Historic Register Designation Sought for Sacramento Rail Yards

"Historic Register Designation Sought for Sacramento Rail Yards" by C. Johnson, © News10/KXTV, 8/15/2007. (News Article)

"Sacramento historical preservation groups have submitted the downtown rail yards for nomination on National Register of Historic Places. The 39-acre historic district incorporates the southwest area of the downtown Sacramento railyards extending to Front and K streets. ... ground was first broken in 1863 for the Transcontinental Railroad at the Sacramento location. The Central Pacific/Southern Pacific Railroad Sacramento shops were one time the largest single-site, integrated industrial complex in the West. The still-standing Erecting Shop is the only existing Transcontinental Railroad-related structure in the West dating from 1869, the year the railroad was completed. ... the city’s largest employer for many years ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]


From: "Ruthanne Buchanan"

Need list of Railroad Depots going to Westville-North Florida from Missouri in 1890's.

—R Buchanan

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Air conditioning?


Have conditions of employment improved markedly since, say, 52 years ago? I just sent this to a brother re lack of A/C.


You are a close friend, an esteemed research colleague, and, of course, a brother par excellence, whom I have known since 1981.

However, . . . . (here it comes).

When we worked Espee steam in the San Joaquin Valley, during 100 degree plus days for 16 hours (all work no limbo) , we sat right up against the backhead of the firebox and boiler. My job was to "Keep 'er hot, Freddy." When we climbed down the ladder at the end of a trip, our legs and arms had the power of wet noodles. We said, "I'm so hungry, I can hardly keep my eyes open." Because we were "mileage hungry" and would register in at 15 hrs and 59 mins, we would get out on our 8 hrs of so-called rest. In those days, we had iron men and wooden cabooses, manning the great crop rushes in the Valley. Our First 787, westward (North Coast Perishable), could display green signals for as many as five following sections. On the (central California) Coast, our brothers did almost as well, with up to 500 dripping reefers out per night form Watsonville and San Jose yards.

When, stopping in some jerk water, tank town to take on water, I would soak myself from the spout. Ahhh! ("Freddy, the water goes in the tank.")

/FRED/, a hot number

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Walt Whitman PBS documentary - research assistance

From: "Sierra Pettengill"

My name is Sierra Pettengill, and I am currently working on a PBS documentary on Walt Whitman for the "American Experience" history series.

Whitman lived in Camden from 1873 until his death in 1892. He wrote about the Camden and Amboy Railroad:

"The trains of the Camden & Amboy are going by on the track about 50 or 60 rods from here, puffing & blowing – often train after train, following each other – following each other – & locomotives singly, whisking & squealing, up the track & then down again – I often sit and watch them long ... "

We are trying to find some images to illustrate the Camden part of our documentary, and would love to include some Camden & Amboy photographs – either of the Camden station, or the train yards, or the trains themselves. I was hoping that you might have some photographs that would be helpful, or could suggest some possible resources I should contact. ...

Sierra Pettengill
Associate Producer

HiddenHill Productions
432 West 45th Street
5th Floor
New York, NY 10036

Vert-a-Pac auto rack freight car design

From: "Thomas E. Johnson"
Subject: Request for Assistance

Hello from Colorado, My name is Tom Johnson, a mechanical engineer working for the railroad industry and currently performing historical research on the Vert-a-Pac auto rack freight car design.

Your museum website FAQ section references the CPRR shops being the site of Vert-a-Pac prototype fabrication and development beginning in the mid 1960's time period.

Can you please check your ... archives to determine if any records and drawings related to Vert-a-Pac may still be available?

Thank you for your assistance from TTCI

Thomas E. Johnson
Associate Test Engineer
Transportation Technology Center, Inc.
55500 DOT Road, P.O. Box 11130
Pueblo, CO 81001

Photo tour of the Old Grade

From: "Chris Graves"

Our good friend, Shen-Chih Cheng (Sam!) has completed his photographic work  re: the CPRR on the Sierra Nevada.  The leadership of the CSRM has seen the results of that work, and have expressed an interest in displaying his photos in the CSRM.

In mid-September, 2007 (NEXT MONTH!) Sam has retained me for the last leg of his photo work, this from Toano, Nev. to Promontory Summit, Utah.  (Last year Sam completed his photo work in the Pequops, so thankfully, we can leave that dusty area to its own quiet loneliness)

This last effort is expected to take 4 days.

If any of the bloggers would like to join in this journey, you would be most welcome.

WarningA FOUR WHEEL DRIVE VEHICLE IS A MUST. The old grade is littered with relics from 1869 thru the 1940's, spikes in tires are the norm, as are nails, chunks of iron/steel and broken glass.  Should you decide to join us, please plan accordingly.

While Sam and I will be moteling it, others are welcome to camp out.

We will be stopping in Nevada to see: the old grade East of Reno, the old grade East of Battle Mtn., the old grade East of Beowawe, the old grade West of Palisade, the old grade East of Elko, and other garden spots yet un-named.  We expect to overnite in Elko or Wendover, then overnite in Brigham City.

Those interested can reach me at 916 663 3742.  There is NO CHARGE for this service.

G J Chris Graves
NewCastle, AltaCal'a
Winter's Summer Garden

Sunday, August 12, 2007

34lb Pear Rail

From: "Bruce C. Cooper"

I have posted images of the 86" stick of 34 lb chisel cut iron pear rail found in a garage in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

Could this be from the Philadelphia and Columbia RR?

Any thoughts?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Official Rail Guide, 1921

The Official Guide of the Railways, 1921 is now available online. For Union Pacific Railroad, see especially pdf pages 704-729. For Southern Pacific Railroad, see especially pdf pages 747-763. Note that these numbers are not the printed page numbers. This 1508 page volume is a huge file, so use will require a fast internet connection. Courtesy Jeffrey Hill, Cape Ann Train Co.

This pdf copy is for online reference use only. Please do not download or print. If you want a copy for your computer or to printout pages, please purchase a CD from Cape Ann Train Co..

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Silver spike ceremony, Deming, New Mexico, 1881?

From: "Strand"

Was a silver spike ceremony held in Deming, NM in 1881 when the second transcontinental Railroad linking Southern Pacific with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroads was completed?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Official Rail Guide, 1910

The Official Guide of the Railways, 1910 is now available online. For Union Pacific Railroad, see especially pdf pages 812-821. For Southern Pacific Railroad, see especially pdf pages 829-833. Note that these numbers are not the printed page numbers. This 1485 page volume is a huge file, so use will require a fast internet connection. Courtesy Donald R. Hensley, Jr., Tap Lines.

This pdf copy is for online reference use only. Please do not download or print. If you want a copy for your computer or to printout pages, please purchase a CD from Tap Lines.

Security During the RR's Construction


I'm interested in knowing about the security measures the RR implemented during its construction. Did it need security personnel to guard the infrastructure and keep the workers in line?

—Johnny Luo

Background information on Lee Shao?

From: "Naomi Takeuchi"

I am doing research for a children's picture book and would like to base the story on Lee Shao who is one of the three men pictured in the 50th anniversary picture of the historic date at Promontory Point that you have posted on your website.

If you have any resources which would be helpful, I would appreciate your assistance. For example, was he recruited by Charles W. Crocker? Was he one of the men who worked twelve hours straight to lay the last 10 miles? Do you know why he was one of only eight men chosen to attend the ceremony at Promontory Point?

—Naomi Takeuchi, President, 1000 Cranes®, LLC

Jackson and Sharp resources

Sunday, August 05, 2007




"This study examines the intersection of performance, history, and politics in the historical glorification of the railroad and the simultaneous erasure and degradation of the men who built it. Specifically, this dissertation examines dozens of nineteenth-century plays, songs, and cartoons, exploring the power of performance in cementing a history of the railroad and the complicity of performance in a political movement that aimed to devalue the contribution of Irish, Mormon, and Black laborers and to expel the Chinese from the United States. This study ultimately engages the larger question of how performance can be used to shape collective memory, history, and a national definition of what it means to be a part of the 'United' States of America."

Chinese Railroad Worker History

From: "Mary Rich"

I am taking a History of Sacramento class through Pacific Fresno University. I am trying to determine how many Chinese died when building the Transcontinental Railroad and am having a hard time finding the information. Any help you can give would be appreciated.

—Mary Rich

Saturday, August 04, 2007

San Bruno Mountain film

From: "Steven Dunsky"

We're making a documentary about San Bruno Mountain. I'm wondering if you have any information or photos related to Crocker's purchase of the mountain in 1884, as part of the Spanish Land Grant he acquired.


Friday, August 03, 2007

Central Pacific Railway - State of CA Engineer Station 2382+75

From: "Manya Waggoner"

I have a document referencing engineer station 2382+75 in Merced County, CA on the Central Pacific Railway–
I am trying to locate the engineer station – do you have any historical maps showing this information? Do you have any additonal information regarding how the engineer station system works?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

CalP - Haskin Obit


Courtesy of Jack White, attached is an obituary of Mr. De Witt Clinton Haskin, once of the California Pacific, from the Engineering News, Supplement, pg. 21, August 9, 1900.


CalP Haskin Obituary

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Grandfather Heman Coltrin and his brother John Graham Coltrin

From: "Dorothy Coltrin"

I have been told that my grandfather Heman Coltrin and his brother John Graham Coltrin worked on the railroad and possibly are included in the photo of the laying of the spike at Promontory Point on May 10, 1869. My grandfather would have been 15 years and his brother was 26 years. Can you tell me how I might verify this information?

—Dorothy Coltrin

SF&SJ 4-4-0 San Jose - #1 or 32


Attached is a large scan of Norris-built 4-4-0 Southern Pacific "San Jose."  Note the SP logo on the tender.  My question is whether that is a "1" or "2" on the sand box.

This photo has often been presented as being on Peter Donahue's new San Francisco & North Pacific, but I wonder if it is actually taken while still on the San Francisco & San Jose/Southern Pacific. 

I'm guessing that the building in the background says:


but unless we know that the mill is located in Santa Rosa, I think it possible that such a mill might be in, say, San Jose.

In favor of the photo being in Santa Rosa, I note the following:

Historical And Descriptive Sketch Of Sonoma County, California Sonoma County CA Archives History - Books .....Manufactures 1877

Santa Rosa planing mill is situated on Wilson street, and was built in 1870 by H. T. Hewitt. It was afterwards sold to Mr. Arnold, and by him to F. Korbel & Brothers, who still own it. The engine is twenty horse power, and the daily capacity of the mill is from seven to twelve thousand feet of ordinary planing work. From eight to ten hands are usually employed about the mill.

What do you think?


SF&SJ 4-4-0 San Jose - #1 or 32

SF&SJ 4-4-0 San Jose - #1 or 32

SF&SJ 4-4-0 San Jose - #1 or 32

SF&SJ 4-4-0 San Jose - #1 or 32

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