Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Conductor's watch with 24 hours face

From: "St. Germain Pat" PSt.Germain@cr.k12.ia.us

I have seen a picture of a 19th century railroad conductor's watch. What were the 24 letters for on the face? How was the decision made to drop the letters J and V? I'm sure the 24 letters are for the 24 military hours, but why?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Southern Pacific and Denver & Rio Grande

From: ldfarrar81@comcast.net

Recently I ran across two authors who make the claim that the "little" Denver & Rio Grande Railroad purchased the "big" Southern Pacific (Railroad or Transportation Co – take your pick). This is one of the most complex corporate maneuvers I have ever run into and I have been only 1/2 right, if that, up until recently. And I am thoroughly familiar with the multitudinous corporate changes in the history of Southern Pacific and its predecessors. The corporate history of the Southern Pacific and its family, going back to 1852 and even prior to that, fills a large volume. There are hundreds of predecessors. And some of the predecessors such as Pacific Electric Railway have extensive corporate histories of their own. While I don't intend to confuse historians I feel it is only correct to straighten out this SPT-DRGW confusion.

I contacted Tom O'Donnell, retired corporate Secretary of SPT Co., who kindly sent me the following explanation of what took place. May I recommend that anyone wishing to understand fully the course followed by the various companies, or corporations, will read and re-read Mr. O'Donnell's explanation several times as I have. I can certainly understand what has confused readers and historians. Hopefully, this will clear up things once and for all. Mr. O'Donnell writes:

Rio Grande Holding, Inc. (formerly Rio Grande Industries – incorporated in Delaware October 1, 1968) became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Anschutz Corporation in November 1984. It was wholly-owned directly by the Anschutz Corporation from November, 1984 until August 8, 1988, when the Anschutz Corporation transferred all shares of common stock to Western Rail Transportation Company, a new wholly-owned subsidiary which than became the new Rio Grande Industries, Inc. on August 9, 1988.

Pursuant to a Share Purchase Agreement dated December 24, 1987, Southern Pacific Company sold all of the outstanding stock of Southern Pacific Transportation Company to SPTC Holding, Inc., a subsidiary of Rio Grande Industries, Inc. on October 13, 1988.

The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad Company remained a subsidiary of Rio Grande Holding, Inc. until November 21, 1994, when the stock of The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad Company was transferred from Rio Grande Holding, Inc. to Southern Pacific Rail Corporation (SPRC), then from SPRC to Southern Pacific Transportation Company. (This is the legal move which made the DRGW a subsidiary of SPT Co.).

On September 11, 1996, Southern Pacific Rail Corporation, which owned SPT Co. and its subsidiary DRGW, was itself merged into UP Holding Company, Inc. which changed its name the same day to Southern Pacific Rail Corporation. This is how UP effected ownership of Southern Pacific Rail Corporation. —Lynn D. Farrar

Looking for Henry Villa references

From: Lynn Schroeder

My family is interested in finding out more about a gentleman named Henry Vella who accompanied the Big Four on the first train ride from Sacramento to Reno in the 1860s. Have you ever heard of him?

Thought you might have run across that name. Much of what we have in a letter from him is written in the book by Albert Richardson and we are curious as to who penned it first. ...

—Lynn Schroeder

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Texas Hill Country railroads

From: "Andrew Butler" andrew@hillcountryrambling.com

hillcountryrambling.com is starting to add all things associates with railroads in the Texas Hill Country. Weekly new items will be added.


Railroad Handcar

From: "Stramel, James" james.stramel@unisys.com

What do they call this workers cart with the pump handle? Is there anywhere to find one of these? Are there any ... diagrams on building one?

—James Stramel

Sunday, April 20, 2008


From: "Laura Bishop" lmbishop@surewest.net

Here is a little something I found at the US Patents internet site [IMPROVEMENT IN PASSENGER AND STATION-REGISTER, U.S. Patent #93,531, August 10, 1869], that you may like to have. ...

It was interesting to see the names of the towns (1869) on the CPRR line.

Pass & register, U.S. Patent #93531, August 10, 1869
"The object of my invention is to provide an improved mechanism to be attached to railroad-cars, so constructed that the various stations along the line will be indicated, so that each passenger can be informed, without the necessity of calling out the names."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rare items offered by Michael Ginsberg Books

From: "Michael Ginsberg" ginsbook@bellatlantic.net

Here are some recent acquisitions that may be of interest: ...

Keeler, William J. NATIONAL MAP OF THE TERRITORY OF THE UNITED STATES FROM THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER TO THE PACIFIC OCEAN. Wash., D. C. , Gedey, 1867. 120.9 x 146.4 cm, hand colored and mounted on linen as issued. Folded into original brown cloth cover with title in gilt on front cover, minor repairs at folds and minor repairs to the cloth covers, in cloth slipcase. Presentation copy to Hon W. C. Fields, house of representatives from N. G. Taylor, Commissioners of Indian Affairs. First edition. Phillips p.916. Munk 121. Graff 2281. Martin and Martin: Maps of Texas Plate 47 p. 157 for interesting comments about the map. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West V p.211: coming from such a source and based upon such data it is unnecessary to vouch for its accuracy and reliability. It is a complete Railroad Map, the only one published which shows the whole of the great Pacific Railroad routes and their projections and branches, together with all other railroads in the State and Territories bordering the Mississippi on both sides..." Keeler's map also locate the Indian Reservations of the West colored in orange, the gold mines are identified. The map also depicts the wagon roads, overland routes as well as the post and forts. Streeter Sale 3077. with: NOTES TO ACCOMPANY KEELER'S MAP OF THE U.S. TERRITORY FROM THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER TO THE PACIFIC OCEAN. Wash., GPO, 1868 30pp. Sewn. The "Notes" provide a variety of information: cities where land offices are located, data regarding Pacific Railroad land grants, general descriptions of the states and territories of the West, transportation from the Missouri River to the Rockies, and "Distances from St. Louis to Fort Benton Via Missouri River." Howes K122. The map and notes are rarely offered together. (31343) $5500.00 ...

[PACIFIC TELEGRAPH]. DeGrand, P.P.F et al. PETITION OF P.P.F. DEGRAND AND OTHERS, PRAYING A CHARTER FOR THE PURPOSE OF CONSTRUCTING A RAILROAD AND ESTABLISHING A LINE OF TELEGRAPH FROM ST. LOUIS TO SAN FRANCISCO. Wash., SMD28, 1850 35ppp. dbd. First edition. This plan "is the only one as yet proposed which will secure practically, mathematically and irrevocably, by a single act of Congress, the construction of this great work in the shortest time allowed..." (16384) $75.00 ...

Wilkes, George. PROPOSAL FOR A NATIONAL RAIL-ROAD TO THE PACIFIC OCEAN. FOR THE PURPOSE OF OBTAINING A SHORT ROUTE TO OREGON AND THE INDIES. N.Y., Adee, Printer, 1847. 24pp. Folding map (untitled folding map of the works (position of American between the oceans) 22.3 x 26cm., boundary lines colored in yellow and green, printed on blue paper. Original printed grey wrappers, fine copy laid in half morocco slipcase. Fourth and best edition with the map. Presentation copy from the author at bottom of wrapper title. The map depicts the route for world trade in red. Howes W419: "One of the earliest transcontinental agitations; framed while California was still a Mexican province, and Oregon terminus was planned. Wagner-Camp-Becker 119:2 note. Bancroft in his "History of Oregon" states: "This scheme was for a free national road to be supported by tolls sufficient to pay its expenses, and not a corporate monopoly. Wilkes was in advance of this times; but the principle he advocated is undoubtedly the correct one for developing the great interior of the continent." (31370) $2000.00 ...

[PACIFIC RAILROAD]. Carver, Dr. Hartwell. PROPOSAL FOR A CHARTER TO BUILD A RAILROAD FROM LAKE MICHIGAN TO THE PACIFIC OCEAN. Washington, Gideon, 1847. 38pp. Dbd. Evenly tanned. Very good. Carver, who claims to be the first to propose a railroad to the Pacific Ocean, here brings together his various writings on the subject. He includes a three-page "Memorial for a Private Charter" addressed to the U.S. Congress and asking that Carver and his associates be granted a private charter to build the railroad; remarks on the practicability of the enterprise, including criticisms of the plans of Asa Whitney and George Wilkes (whom Carver claims are asking for too much land and too much time to build the railroad); and various newspaper articles that Carver has written on the subject. "One of the earliest transcontinental projects, with critical comments on the plans of Whitney and Wilkes" – Howes. HOWES C214, "aa." GRAFF 621. COWAN, p.108. RAILWAY ECONOMICS, p.281. (22084) $2250.00 ...

Michael Ginsberg Books, Inc.
P O Box 402
Sharon, MA 02067
tel: 781 784 8181
fax 781 784 1824

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Central Pacific Freight Truck Survey

From: KyleKWyatt@gmail.com

Thought you all might be interested in the attached 19th century Central Pacific Railroad Freight Truck Survey.

—Kyle Wyatt

Wages and Rail Fares in the 1860's

... I have just been asked some questions about pay rates for railroad workers on the UP and Central Pacific during the construction of the line leading up to the driving of the golden spike. The questions come from one of the teachers working with the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis. They are:

Men's salaries while working on the RR: Men were paid between $1-$5 dollars per day. Immigrants were paid the lowest amount. Is this just for laying track? What were blacksmiths, cooks, carpenters, surveyors and telegraphers paid? What was a masons or a teamster paid during this time? ...

—Ron Goldfeder, St. Louis

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

Saturday, April 05, 2008

CP Huntington Loses Control

From: KyleKWyatt@gmail.com

I was reading in the biography of Henry Edwards Huntington by James Thorpe [University of California Press, Berkeley, 1994] – in particular the section where Henry is in California as Collis' representative in the 1890s. One thing I found particularly interesting was the leadup to Collis' death, which set the scene for Henry losing out in becoming President of the Southern Pacific. In 1898-99 Collis was maneuvering the buyout of the interests of the Crockers, Stanfords, and finally the Hopkins/Searls interests. Huntington acquired some, but his bankers, Speyer & Company, also acquired a lot. Out of this in late 1899 the Southern Pacific Company board was reorganized with all SP officials except CP and Henry removed and replaced with Speyer representatives. Reading between the lines, I think CP blew it right there. In his enthusiasm to get rid of the Crocker, Stanford and Hopkins/Searls interests, he allowed his bankers to gain a major interest. Even before his death they were already dictating some actions. And while CP may have had the strength of position to be able to push back, Henry certainly didn't, which explains maybe why he lost out.

Unfortunately, so far I haven't found any more about those events in other books. But it appears to be an interesting topic to explore further. What I don't yet have a handle on is how the whole reorganization of the Central Pacific at that time in order to pay off the Federal debt factors in to the buyout of the other interests. I suspect it is an important piece of the puzzle, but I've only just skimmed briefly so far. Lots more to integrate.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Inventory of Rocklin, 1869

From: "Chris Graves" caliron@att.net

In 1869, L. M. Clement, Assistant Engineer for the CPRR completed an inventory of Rocklin:

One wood shed, 326 feet by 43 1/2 feet
12 water tanks, gravity feed, cap. 42,000 gals.
One station, 85 ft. 9 in. by 24 ft. 4 in.
One round house, stone
One turntable.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

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