Thursday, May 29, 2008

Niles-Tracy line

From: "Randy Ruiz"

Thank you for maintaining this fine discussion group.  I have had some luck answering questions here in the past, and I thought I would try another.  

I am looking to collect traffic data for the CP/SP line from Niles to Tracy.  I am not sure where the railroad collected this data, and what sort of records to look for.  John Signor's gives a few freight traffic numbers for this line in his Western Division book to make the case that traffic fluctuated in relation to the depression and the completion of the Suisun Bay Bridge.  I had asked him for help with this question, but he was unable to do so.  I also asked this question at the CSRM library, but they did not know where to look.

I have found systemwide data in the company's annual reports.  I am hoping to compare this data to the statistics for the line through Niles Canyon and over Altamont. I would like to determine when traffic peaked during WWII, and how quickly it fell off afterwards.  Also, did it continue to decline through to 1984, or were there periods of growth, such as during the Korean conflict. 

I took some of the systemwide data I have come across and put it into the attached charts.  They reveal some interesting trends particularly in terms of the railroad's growth and stagnation.  It would be interesting to compare against the national GDP. Please see the attached PDF, SPRR 1885-1934.


Randolph R. Ruiz


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Larry Mullaly"
Subject: Niles-Tracy line

Some time ago I reviewed John Signor’s timetable and dispatchers logs relative to the early Western Pacific. I wrote up the attached analysis and share it with you for what it is worth. These are working notes and I ask your forgiveness for any typos or non-sequiturs.

—Larry Mullaly

5/30/2008 6:16 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Larry Mullaly"
Subject: Wrong Period for Tracy-Niles

Oops. The mind seems to read whatever it wants at times. After having sent out my Western Division information to the group, I realize that you were referencing a much more contemporary time period. Sorry, I do not have anything to contribute regarding this period.

—Larry Mullaly

5/30/2008 6:19 PM  
Blogger Randolph Ruiz said...

I appreciate the information all the same. I had been led to believe that it was the Cal-P and the ferry Solano that relegated the Niles line to secondary status, so it is interesting to see evidence that the line via Bantas had as much effect as it did.

I am surprised that no one knows how or where the SP recorded the data I am looking for. I would expect the bean counters would want to know how many ton-miles were handled by each line.

Thanks again.

6/01/2008 1:27 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Kevin Bunker"

I don't know of any surviving traffic patterns digests for this SP subdivision, but you might ask at CSRM Library, Stanford University Library and at the Huntington Library whether they received (and have processed) archived dispatchers' train sheets for the Niles Sub. This is about the only primary record I can think of that would show daily traffic loads in any given period. The sad fact is that not too many of such "OS" sheets survive ... there were just too many of them, and their larger than pillowcases in most instances. Still, it can't hurt to make inquiries.

The SPH&TS may also have gotten ahold of some when the SP's Oakland records warehouses were cleaned out.


6/01/2008 6:06 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Larry Mullaly"

I have found it very difficult to obtain operational detail on the railroad. The closest I have come to this sort of thing in the published real are the annual ICC reports. But these always show SYSTEM rather than divisional data. I have done quite a bit of sleuthing over time to see what there was of such information for the Los Angeles Division. Never found it. Perhaps somewhere in Omaha, but not in the archival records available to the public.

Regarding the heavy activity on the Banta line, I think this was a short lived phenomenon since the Solano went into use fairly soon after the period I report.


6/02/2008 6:10 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


... The SP kept very detailed records of the traffic carried by each individual line on the system, not only the total amount but the traffic each way, to or from San Francisco. What happened just before UP bought SP was that a gal in Los Angeles, who I presume was handling SP's leased properties, came to San Francisco and went through a large leased warehouse on Brannan Street where SP kept a tremendous amount of old records. She made a decision that if the records had not been used for ten years they were to be thrown out. John Signor, who lives in Dunsmuir, CA, got word of this and called me in Lafayette, CA. I met him at the warehouse and we looked over a pile of records 6 feet high and about 40 feet in circumference on the floor waiting to be hauled away. John and I went throught much of the pile and I pulled out what I considered critical things to keep and put them in my pickup and hauled them to Lafayette. John also salvaged some items. Most of what I saved went to CSRM before I moved to the state of Washington. This pile was only what my research team had amassed over 11 years, and we scoured the country from coast to coast and border to border. I myself had visited 41 difference locations where we learned pertinent material for our program was located. What was thrown out from other department records I have no idea but I fear it came to many truck loads of records. Thus, a tremendous number of old records were destroyed.

—Lynn Farrar

6/03/2008 6:01 PM  
Blogger Randolph Ruiz said...

Well, that is too bad. I was really hoping to quantify the fluctuations of the line's use. I would expect that the primary lines on the SP would closely track the system-wide statistics, but as a secondary main, the line through Niles Canyon was sensitive to a number of factors.

Kevin seems to be suggesting that I could use the dispatcher's sheets as snapshots from which I could extrapolate traffic levels. That sounds like a lot of work, but it may be the route I have to take.

I am trying to contribute to our understanding of the history of the line currently operated by the Pacific Locomotive Association. I am also hoping to have a strong argument for a specific "Period of Significance" for the line. It is unclear when this period should end. I have been inclined to set it at the end of World War II, but I would like to support such a decision with traffic data.

Thanks for your responses,


6/04/2008 12:28 AM  

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