Sunday, December 30, 2007

"The Associates: Four Capitalists Who Created California'

"The Associates: Four Capitalists Who Created California" by Richard Rayner, W.W. Norton/Atlas Books. Book review by Wendy Smith, © Los Angeles Times, DATE.

" ... a famous photograph taken on May 10, 1869 ... doesn't show the ferocious competition that preceded it, a race across the continent funded by two groups of cutthroat businessmen. 'The race was over,' Richard Rayner writes of that photo-op moment, 'settled at last, not in the badlands of Utah, but in the smoke-filled study of a dodgy congressman.' In that dank room, though the scandal-plagued Union Pacific hung onto plenty of track (and boodle), the Central Pacific came out on top, with a railroad that extended hundreds of miles beyond the California state line established as its end point in the 1862 Pacific Railway Act. Those extra miles ensured that the Central Pacific would dominate rail traffic in California and the Southwest, creating a cash cow for the four titans whose shenanigans are the subject of Rayner's lively study. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

"Southern U.S. border was established on this day in 1853"

"Southern U.S. border was established on this day in 1853," © FOCUS News Agency, December 30, 2007. (News Article)

"Southern U.S. border was established on this day in 1853. James Gadsden, the U.S. minister to Mexico, and General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the president of Mexico, sign the Gadsden Purchase in Mexico City. The treaty settled the dispute over the location of the Mexican border west of El Paso, Texas, and established the final boundaries of the southern United States. For the price of USD 15 million, later reduced to USD 10 million, the United States acquired approximately 30,000 square miles of land in what is now southern New Mexico and Arizona. Jefferson Davis, the U.S. secretary of war under President Franklin Pierce, had sent Gadsden to negotiate with Santa Anna for the land, which was deemed by a group of political and industrial leaders to be a highly strategic location for the construction of the southern transcontinental railroad. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Thursday, December 27, 2007

"Union Pacific" Movie novelty spike, 1939

From: "David Harding"

My name is David Harding. I live in western Indiana. I received for Christmas this year an original spike that was handed out to the guests at the premier of Cecil B. DeMille's "Union Pacific" movie in Omaha in 1939. I have looked without success everywhere I can think of to find info on this spike and it's value. My insurance agent wants me to have it insured for replacement value. Do you have any information on how many were produced and what its collector value is? Or have a link to a site with the information on it's value? It has some tarnish but is in good condition. Any help with this situation would be very much appreciated.

—Mr. David Harding

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Michigan 3-cylinder shay model


I have a Michigan 3-cylinder shay model exclusively for Pacific Fast Mail but I am unable to find any information on this model. Could you help or put me onto someone who can?


Michigan Shay model

Michigan Shay model

Michigan Shay model

Oyster car photographic image search

From: "Noah Belikoff"

I am performing archival and pictorial research for a public television documentary film production on the history of the San Francisco Bay.

We are attempting to locate original photographic prints or negatives of the stock cars used to transport seed oysters from the East Coast to the San Francisco Bay area on the transcontinental railroad beginning in 1870, and live fish from 1874 onward.

The oyster cars that ran prior to 1874 were apparently a private, commercial operation. The live fish cars were used by the U.S. Fish and Fisheries Commission for distributing fish stock to America's waterways.

If your archive contains negative or print images that meet these general descriptions, we would be interested in determining their suitability for inclusion in our documentary film project.

—Noah Belikoff

Oyster fenced beds

Oyster floats


Courtesy of Noah Belikoff, U.C. Berkeley.

Daily Alta California, October 22, 1869


Arrival of the First invoice per Pacific Railroad.

Almost daily for years some of the unfortunates who live at restaurants has been heard to say, "How I should like to be East once more to have a good feed of oysters."  And then there generally ensues a conversation between the speaker and the waiter in regard to the merits of oysters found in different localities, concluding with a sigh from each.  Since the completion of the railway, gourmands have anxiously awaited the coming of the month containing the letter "R," in the hope of receiving bivalves fresh from the Eastern shore. Yesterday a large invoice of fresh oysters, in the shell – the pioneer invoice – packed in barrels filled in with ice, was received and distributed among the principal dealers.  These oysters, which came through in seven days from Baltimore, arrived in excellent condition, and were heartily enjoyed by those fortunate enough to have an opportunity of testing them.  They are to be found at several places in the city, among which we may mention those of John Howe, 504 and 506 Sansome street; Joe GuistIe, in the California Market, and Porter & Lewis' saloon, in the Merchants' Exchange.  At the latter place the reporter noted with interest the healthy appetite of one young man – not a big fellow either – who devoured six plates of the bivalves in succession, and when the reporter left was waiting with anxiety for the seventh dish.  The fate of this young man is unknown – the reporter lived to tell the tale.

Oyster Car, 1897
Oyster Car, 1897.

Monday, December 24, 2007

"Poster advertiaaing CEntral Pacific Railroad"

From: "Hazzard Family"

Circa 1870

Hand panted on Cloth blue black grey inks.

This poster appears to be original. Would your group be intreasted in this?

From: "johncon2"

attached is picture I have of Central Pacific Railroad poster  

It is  painted on cloth.. circa 1800  

Is this something the Museum would take an interest in?  Is it of any value/  

thank you


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rail chair

From: "Chris Graves"

A rail chair was found a short time ago on the old Towle Bros. rail road grade, above Drum Camp.  This road bed was abandoned by the Towle Bros. about 1903; Towle Bros. used what ever rail they could find, primarily we find CPRR initial construction on their old grades.

This rail chair however, is not in the pattern of chairs found along the old CPRR grade, nor is it similiar to other chairs found on the Towle Brothers grade.

Instead of the 'wrap around' being in the middle of the chair, the 'wrap around' fills the entire chair, end to end.

Additionally, the only rail that fits it perfectly is the rail purchased by Theo. Judah in the Fall of 1859, for his railroad, the California Eastern Extension running between Lincoln, Cal. and Gold Hill, Cal.  This rail, 52 lbs. to the yard, was made by the Rensellear Iron Co. of Troy, N.Y.  It was initially laid on the Sacramento, Placer and Nevada rail bed, and following the failure of that endeavour, it was relaid on the Placerville Branch.

Does anyone in the group have first person historical notes that would show this rail being pulled up by the Associates and being sold to the Towle Bros.?  If so, what year would that have taken place?

—Chris Graves

Rail Chair

Rail Chair

Chinese persecution c. 1864


by Mark Twain

Published in the San Francisco Daily Morning Call, 1864.

In San Francisco, the other day, "A well-dressed boy, on his way to Sunday-school, was arrested and thrown into the city prison for stoning Chinamen."

What a commentary is this upon human justice! What sad prominence it gives to our human disposition to tyrannize over the weak! San Francisco has little right to take credit to herself for her treatment of this poor boy. What had the child's education been? How should he suppose it was wrong to stone a Chinaman? Before we side against him, along with outraged San Francisco, let us give him a chance – let us hear the testimony for the defense.

He was a "well-dressed" boy, and a Sunday-school scholar, and therefore the chances are that his parents were intelligent, well-to-do people, with just enough natural villainy in their composition to make them yearn after the daily papers, and enjoy them; and so this boy had opportunities to learn all through the week how to do right, as well as on Sunday.

It was in this way that he found out that the great commonwealth of California imposes an unlawful mining-tax upon John the foreigner, and allows Patrick the foreigner to dig gold for nothing – probably because the degraded Mongol is at no expense for whisky, and the refined Celt cannot exist without it.

It was in this way that he found out that a respectable number of the tax-gatherers – it would be unkind to say all of them – collect the tax twice, instead of once; and that, inasmuch as they do it solely to discourage Chinese immigration into the mines, it is a thing that is much applauded, and likewise regarded as being singularly facetious.

It was in this way that he found out that when a white man robs a sluice-box (by the term white man is meant Spaniards, Mexicans, Portuguese, Irish, Hondurans, Peruvians, Chileans, etc., etc.), they make him leave the camp; and when a Chinaman does that thing, they hang him.

It was in this way that he found out that in many districts of the vast Pacific coast, so strong is the wild, free love of justice in the hearts of the people, that whenever any secret and mysterious crime is committed, they say, "Let justice be done, though the heavens fall," and go straightway and swing a Chinaman.

It was in this way that he found out that by studying one half of each day's "local items," it would appear that the police of San Francisco were either asleep or dead, and by studying the other half it would seem that the reporters were gone mad with admiration of the energy, the virtue, the high effectiveness, and the dare-devil intrepidity of that very police-making exultant mention of how "the Argus-eyed officer So-and-so" captured a wretched knave of a Chinaman who was stealing chickens, and brought him gloriously to the city prison; and how "the gallant officer Such-and-such-a-one" quietly kept an eye on the movements of an "unsuspecting, almond-eyed son of Confucius" (your reporter is nothing if not facetious), following him around with that far-off look. of vacancy and unconsciousness always so finely affected by that inscrutable being, the forty-dollar policeman, during a waking interval, and captured him at last in the very act of placing his hands in a suspicious manner upon a paper of tacks, left by the owner in an exposed situation; and how one officer performed this prodigious thing, and another officer that, and another the other – and pretty much every one of these performances having for a dazzling central incident a Chinaman guilty of a shilling's worth of crime, an unfortunate, whose misdemeanor must be hurrahed into something enormous in order to keep the public from noticing how many really important rascals went uncaptured in the mean time, and how overrated those glorified policemen actually are.

It was in this way that the boy found out that the legislature, being aware that the Constitution has made America, an asylum for the poor and the oppressed of all nations, and that, therefore, the poor and oppressed who fly to our shelter must not be charged a disabling admission fee, made a law that every Chinaman, upon landing, must be vaccinated upon the wharf, and pay to the state's appointed officer ten dollars for the service, when there are plenty of doctors in San Francisco who would be glad enough to do it for him for fifty cents.

It was in this way that the boy found out that a Chinaman had no rights that any man was bound to respect; that he had no sorrows that any man was bound to pity; that neither his life nor his liberty was worth the purchase of a penny when a white man needed a scapegoat; that nobody loved Chinamen, nobody befriended them, nobody spared them suffering when it was convenient to inflict it; everybody, individuals, communities, the majesty of the state itself, joined in hating, abusing, and persecuting these humble strangers.

And, therefore, what could have been more natural than for this sunny-hearted-boy, tripping along to Sunday-school, with his mind teeming with freshly learned incentives to high and virtuous action, to say to himself:

"Ah, there goes a Chinaman! God will not love me if I do not stone him."

And for this he was arrested and put in the city jail.

Everything conspired to teach him that it was a high and holy thing to stone a Chinaman, and yet he no sooner attempts to do his duty than he is punished for it – he, poor chap, who has been aware all his life that one of the principal recreations of the police, out toward the Gold Refinery, is to look on with tranquil enjoyment while the butchers of Brannan Street set their dogs on unoffending Chinamen, and make them flee for their lives.

–[I have many such memories in my mind, but am thinking just at present of one particular one, where the Brannan Street butchers set their dogs on a Chinaman who was quietly passing with a basket of clothes on his head; and while the dogs mutilated his flesh, a butcher increased the hilarity of the occasion by knocking some of the Chinaman's teeth down his throat with half a brick. This incident sticks in my memory with a more malevolent tenacity, perhaps, on account of the fact that I was in the employ of a San Francisco journal at the time, and was not allowed to publish it because it might offend some of the peculiar element that subscribed for the paper.]

Keeping in mind the tuition in the humanities which the entire "Pacific coast" gives its youth, there is a very sublimity of incongruity in the virtuous flourish with which the good city fathers of San Francisco proclaim (as they have lately done) that "The police are positively ordered to arrest all boys, of every description and wherever found, who engage in assaulting Chinamen."

Still, let us be truly glad they have made the order, notwithstanding its inconsistency; and let us rest perfectly confident the police are glad, too. Because there is no personal peril in arresting boys, provided they be of the small kind, and the reporters will have to laud their performances just as loyally as ever, or go without items.

The new form for local items in San Francisco will now be: "The ever-vigilant and efficient officer So-and-so succeeded, yesterday afternoon, in arresting Master Tommy Jones, after a determined resistance," etc., etc., followed by the customary statistics and final hurrah, with its unconscious sarcasm: "We are happy in being able to state that this is the forty-seventh boy arrested by this gallant officer since the new ordinance went into effect. The most extraordinary activity prevails in the police department. Nothing like it has been seen since we can remember."

Friday, December 14, 2007

Rail cars at Promontory


As a model railroader I have some questions regarding the Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Utah, 1869.

Is it true the C.P.R.R. had only two passenger cars, a coach and combine?

How many passenger cars did the U.P.R.R. have? What was the make-up of the cars – coach, baggage, combine?

What were the authentic colors of the passenger cars for each railroad? This one is important to me as I am duplicating these two railroads and I would like to be as accurate as possible.

—Barry Bird

Monday, December 10, 2007

"Developer agrees to donate two historic buildings for a museum"

"Developer agrees to donate two historic buildings for a museum" by Mary Lynne Vellinga, © Sacramento Bee, December 9, 2007. (News Article)

"... Ending a quarrel with the state that threatened its entire project, the developer of Sacramento's downtown railyard Saturday agreed to donate two historic shop buildings to the state parks department for a museum of railroad technology. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Cost of train travel in the nineteenth century.

What was the ticket price for a transcontinental railroad trip? How much was the fare in different years to ride the Central and Union Pacific trains in the 19th century?

Chinese CPRR workers and Irish UPRR workers

What type of people worked on the transcontinental railroad?

Telegraph message on completion of the Transcontinental Railroad

What was the telegraph message sent from coast to coast upon completion of the Transcontinental Railroad?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"32 Million Dollar Renovation of The Stanford Court, a Renaissance Hotel"

"32 Million Dollar Renovation of The Stanford Court, a Renaissance Hotel", ©, December 5, 2007. (News Article)

"...Nob Hill, the home of the Stanford Court Renaissance Hotel, rises 376 feet above the San Francisco waterfront and has long been associated with the elite. Described by Robert Lewis Stevenson in 1882 as the "hill of palaces", the hotel sits on the site where Leland Stanford, governor of California, president of the Central Pacific Railroad, and founder of Stanford University, built his grand mansion with its 2 story rotunda and series of themed parlors in the 1870's. The mansion, which was the largest private residence in the state, burned to the ground in the fire that followed the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, but the large granite and basalt wall that buttresses two sides of the block survived and still remains to this day. In 1912, the luxury Stanford Court Apartments was constructed and was later renovated into the Stanford Court. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Air compressor location

From: "Richard Gagnon"

I model 1890 and I have noticed in photos of locomotives of the time that the air compressor moved from the engineers side to the fireman's side but I have never seen any discussion on why and how it happened. Engines from say 1900 on mostly had the compressors on the fireman's side. Any more information on this subject?


Railroad employment


Why would people want to work on railroads? What were the benefits and advantages of the job?

Music programs


I was wondering if you have music programs at the museum, and? if so, can you please tell me who develops them?

—Jeff Barber

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

HR 2246 - Pacific Railroad Acts

From: "Bruce C. Cooper"

The following Bill, passed this afternoon, December 4, 2007, as HR 2246 (110th Congress, 1st Session) regarding the Pacific Railroad Acts:

To validate certain conveyances made by the Union Pacific Railroad Company of lands located in Reno, Nevada, that were originally conveyed by the United States to facilitate construction... (Introduced in House) HR 2246 IH


1st Session
H. R. 2246
To validate certain conveyances made by the Union Pacific Railroad Company of lands located in Reno, Nevada, that were originally conveyed by the United States to facilitate construction of transcontinental railroads, and for other purposes.


May 9, 2007 Mr. HELLER of Nevada introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources

To validate certain conveyances made by the Union Pacific Railroad Company of lands located in Reno, Nevada, that were originally conveyed by the United States to facilitate construction of transcontinental railroads, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


(a) Validation-

(1) CONVEYANCES COVERED BY MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING- The land conveyances that were made, or are to be made, to the City of Reno, Nevada, by the Union Pacific Railroad Company pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding for Reno Rail Corridor, as amended, entered into on December 1, 1998, between the City of Reno and the Union Pacific Railroad Company, and that comprise approximately 120 acres of land, as depicted on the map entitled `Release of Land to City of Reno, Nevada' prepared by the Bureau of Land Management and dated May 2, 2007, which were originally granted by the United States to the predecessor of the Union Pacific Railroad Company to facilitate construction of transcontinental railroads, are hereby valid to the extent that the conveyances would have been valid had the land involved in the conveyances been held by the Union Pacific Railroad Company in absolute or fee-simple title at the time of the conveyances.

(2) ADDITIONAL CONVEYANCE- The land conveyance made to the City of Reno, Nevada, by CTB Inc., a Nevada Corporation, in the grant, bargain, and sale deed dated October 22, 2002, and involving a parcel of land situated in the NW 1/4 SW 1/4 of Section 11, Township 19 North, Range 19 East, Mount Diablo base and meridian, is hereby valid to the extent that the conveyance would have been valid had the land involved in the conveyance been held by CTB Inc. in absolute or fee-simple title at the time of the conveyance.

(b) Release of United States Interests- All right, title, and interest of the United States in and to the land described in subsection (a) are hereby released to the City of Reno, without consideration.

(c) Filing of Instruments- As soon as practicable after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall file for recordation in the real property records of Washoe County, Nevada, such instruments as may be necessary to document the validation of the land conveyances described in subsection (a) and the release of the interests of the United States under subsection (b).

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Locomotive 4-4-0 Madison


I have just spent several hours (almost all day) trying to add some provenance to a daguerreotype I purchased back in the 1970's.  I kept it all this time because it always fascinated me as a piece of history.  You seem to have to have an incredibly vast amount of knowledge on your website.  I was wondering if you can identify the locomotive in the attached pics.  I want to sell the dag but would like to be able to identify what it is.  It’s almost identical to the Baldwin logo and several other Baldwins, but not precisely.  There is a swerved wheel cover over the back wheels and the placement and shape of the bell, water reservoir or other items on top of the tender is a little different.  

Since it’s a dag, it’s a reverse image so I have flipped it for you.  It says MADISON on the side of the tender but I am unable to read anything else (except the sign on the door of the building says “Cash Store”).  The car looks like it says something like “I P & E R ___” ?  I’m originally from Minnesota and we had a lot of Erie RR’s.  In research I’ve seen the Indianapolis & Pennsylvania referred to and the Wabash & Erie, but nothing with this combination.  

Research also shows what a great monumental undertaking it was to construct an engine that would get over the grades to the Ohio River in, Madison (Ohio ?), and the Reuben Wells' success, and I’ve read a little of the Wabash Canonball (I think we learned that when we were kids).  But I still can’t find this particular engine or a possible location.  

It is such a magnificent specimen and looks like it is standing proud and brand new that I thought you might recognize something about it.  All I have to offer is my thanks and appreciation for your response.  

—Barbara, Big Bear Lake, California


Saturday, December 01, 2007

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