Monday, July 28, 2008

Former Mayors of Yuma, Arizona

From: "Marilyn Young"

During my tenure as mayor of Yuma I became interested in my past counterparts. I am now doing research on all of them, but five of them are a special challenge. Of these five we do not have a photograph – two of the five worked for the railroad.

Andrew J Finlay worked for the Central Pacific and then the Southern Pacific in California and Yuma and Tucson, Arizona. He was active during the years ca. 1870-1890.

R J Duncan (first name Ransom) I believed worked for just the Southern Pacific during the same time span, although he was in railroading most if not all of his adult life.

Would there be anyway you could help me in this quest? Or, give me guidance as to were I might find a photo and/or information on these gents. ...

—Marilyn Young
Yuma AZ

"Silk Roads Across North America"

From: "Alan Vanterpool"

I have been in contact with you at one time or another concerning an interest in silk trains. My researches have now been published and can be viewed at the Alberta Railway Museum website. ... Enjoy – and please feel free to comment. Thank you for your help.


Alan Vanterpool,
Edmonton, AB

Friday, July 25, 2008

Adv: Original William Henry Jackson watercolors

From: "Brian Levine"
Re: Original William Henry Jackson watercolors for sale

Dear Curator:

Attached, as a pdf file, is a catalogue I've composed for the offering of three original watercolors by the noted Western photographer, William Henry Jackson. In this 45-page catalogue is a history of these paintings, dating back to their original inspiration in 1866. The catalogue relates Jackson's history from his perspective of painting as opposed to that of his photography. William Henry Jackson had wanted to be a painter, and that was why he befriended fellow painters like Thomas Moran, and many of the others hired for the Hayden Survey. His major talent, though, was his photographic art and that is where he gained his fame.

There are approximately 52,000 known photographic images by William Henry Jackson. There are only several hundred watercolors, and most of these are in the possession of government institutions. The three original watercolors offered here are some of the few still in private ownership.

If after reading this catalogue, you and your institution have an interest in acquiring these original William Henry Jackson watercolors, please contact me either by email or phone.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. Sincerely,

Brian Levine
Mt. Gothic Tomes and Reliquary, LLC
P.O. Box 3048
Crested Butte, CO 81224-3048

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Article on Federally Granted Railroad Rights of Way

From: "Roberts, Darwin (USAWAW)"

Dear CPRR Discussion Group:

I've recently completed a draft article entitled The Legal History of Federally Granted Railroad Rights of Way. It reviews the actions of Congress and the Interior Department in making railroad grants (including both right of way grants and checkerboard land grants) during the nineteenth century. It argues that, contrary to the holdings of several courts, there is no historical evidence of a change in the nature of federal railroad right of way grants in 1871, the year the checkerboard railroad grants ended. It concludes that as a consequence, the federal government retains a property interest in railroad rights of way granted both before and after 1871.

I'd be very interested in hearing comments by people familiar with this area of history. The draft is available for free download on the Social Science Research Network:

Thanks very much,
Darwin Roberts

Darwin P. Roberts
Seattle, WA

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Blue Canyon grade crossings

I am looking for more information on the train crossing's at Blue Canyon. There are 2 crossing's, one in the town of Blue Canyon and it has crossing gates. The other is off a dirt road from the town of Blue Canyon.

When were these crossings installed?

I had heard that the tracks were moved in this area, is that true, when did that happen? Do you have a map of the old track route and the new track route? ...


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Railroad construction accident New York area 1904

From: "Jean Perrin"

... My husband's grandfather sailed from Southampton, England on the SS St. Paul on March 5th 1904 and landed at Ellis Island on March 13th. His name was John Perrin. On the ships manifest he was going to Hollis, New York. We believe he was going to work on the construction side of the railroad, rather than on the trains themselves. We know he was only there a matter of weeks or months and he was then killed in an accident. We the family have no other details of the accident or where he was buried. All we know that his trunk of personal effects were returned to his widow. Besides his widow he left five children (the last one, my father in law, born when he was sailing to America). He was born in Lincolnshire, England. On the manifest his age was given as 38.

I was wondering if you had any records of an accident around the New York area. ...

—Jean Perrin

Friday, July 18, 2008

"Guide to Railroads in California" by L. M. Clement (1876)

The University of California, Irvine Library, Special Collections and Archives has a 12 page report, "Guide to Railroads in California" by L. M. Clement (1876).

Their abstract states that "L. M. Clement was one of the leading civil engineers responsible for surveying and building the eastbound route of the Central Pacific Railroad, thereby contributing to the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. The collection comprises a handwritten copy of Clement's twelve-page report on the state of the California railroads before 1876, including assessments of Chinese laborers and their supervision, an evaluation of the condition of California's roads, and a description of the role of chief engineer in a railroad project."

No government subsidies for the transcontinental railroad

A common error when discussing government financing of the Central and Union Pacific Railroads is that it is mistakenly thought to include government subsidies, forgetting that the government railroad bonds had to be and were repaid in full with interest, that according to the U.S. Supreme Court the government and the railroads shared equally in the increased value of the land grants, and that the U.S. government got a billion dollar discount on mail and other transportation costs.

So although the CPRR spoke of a "subsidy" in their bond prospectus, the net economic result was that the bonds were a repaid loan (not that the railroad didn't attempt unsuccessfully to avoid repaying), the worthless western lands to the extent they were made valuable by the completion of the railroad (much was so arid that it remained worthless), more of the value went to the government and eventual landowners than to the railroad, and the U.S. government received a financial windfall due to the prolonged subsidy that the railroads provided to the U.S. government for its transportation costs as part of the deal to fund the construction.

Central Pacific Railroad First Mortgage Bonds Advertisement, Fisk and Hatch, 1867

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Historic redwood telegraph poles

From: "Doyle Rowntree"

Regarding your article on the 1864 redwood telegraph pole. Working for the Southern Pacific in West Texas in the 1970's I noticed a few old poles along the right of way (some were still in service) that appeared cut in a very similar manner to the one pictured. These poles were quite aged looking, had a tapered rectangular cut and not a rounded taper as you would now expect a pole to have. In fact the information put out back then is that they were redwood and dated to construction of the line in that part of Texas (1880's). Most of those remaining poles that I noticed were west of the Pecos River which would make sense as the Pecos River area was where the Southern Pacific construction crews working east met the GH&SA (Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio) line advancing to the west.

As information, most people assume that the "H" in GH&SA stands for Houston. Harrisburg is now a forgotten suburb of Houston. However, in the 1850's when construction commenced (it took this line 30 years to progress to West Texas), this line originated at Harrisburg, completely bypassing Houston. Only later was a connection built to Houston.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

D.O. McKellips, railroader since 1884


D.O. McKellips

D.O. McKellips

D.O. McKellips



Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Transcontinental Railroad Google Earth Map

From: "Dave Keith"

[Click to view Transcontinental Railroad Google Map. Courtesy of Dave Keith.]

Recently I have been introduced to the history of the transcontinental railroad through reading Ambrose's book Nothing Like it in the World. So I searched the internet high and low for a Google Earth file that would show the original railroad with all its stops, cuts, tunnels, etc. and found nothing.

In light of this, I have created a basic [Keyhole Markup Language] .kmz file that contains as many stops as I could find on the old maps of the railroad from Sacramento to Omaha and have tried to follow the old grade as much as possible. I believe it to be as accurate as I could make it, but its potential could be far-reaching in the right hands. ... I'd like to see it expand and become more enriched in historical accuracy and detail ...

Personally, to open the file on Google Earth and actually trace the railroad's route across the western US is amazing. To see the terrain and all the physical obstacles the builders faced is very impressive and I think it would be an awesome tool for transcontinental railroad history buffs. ...

—Dave Keith, Brockway, PA

Google Earth Transcontinental Railroad Map

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Former workers - Laddle Cottongim, d. 1943


I'm doing research on my father, he may have worked for the Central Engine Construction Company. Did that company morph into the Central Pacific Railroad?

My father was Laddle Cottongim deceased 1943 ... It is listed on his death certificate as R.R. Section Foreman, can you help or refer me elsewhere? ...

—Virgil Cottongim

The Children's Train History Project

From: "Jeannine Nixon"

I am involved in creating a website, The Children's Train History Project, which we hope to develop into a home on the web for an upcoming generation of train lovers. The main content of the page is to be children's stories about American railroads and trains (both fiction and otherwise) but we will also have links, games, a calendar, E-cards, etc.

I have just discovered your wonderful Great Railroad Race game for kids ...

Please feel free to visit the website. It's still under construction .... And, comments are appreciated.

Jeannine Nixon
The Children's Train History Project

Monday, July 07, 2008

"Photographer's Rights Page"

The right to take photographs is explained on the website of Oregon Attorney, Bert P. Krages, II, about "Photographer's Rights" and related Civil Liberties which also has a one page summary pdf "downloadable flyer explaining your rights when stopped or confronted for photography." He is author of the book Legal Handbook for Photographers.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Error in "Iron Trail" by Stewart

From: "Kent S. Larsen II"

I noticed an error in ... Iron Trail by Stewart.

The [chapter] indicates that John W. Young died in Salt Lake City, Utah.

He actually died in New York City, New York.

Underground Railroad

Did they also construct the underground railroad used by the government in the 1800's?