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.