Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tools and equipment used to build the Transcontinental Railroad

From: "Michelle Davis" mdavis927@verizon.net

Where can I find pictures and information on what kinds of tools and equipment were used and how they were used to build the Transcontinental Railroad?

Were there any tools invented and used to help build the Transcontinental Railroad? Who were the inventors of the tools?

Thank you for any assistance you can give me to point me in the right direction.


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Don Snoddy" ddsnoddy@gmail.com

Pioneering the Union Pacific by Charles Ames

Empire Express by David Haward Bain

Both are excellent works on the construction of the transcontinental. As far as I know there were no new tools invented. They used the standard construction techniques although there was some experimentation with nitroglycerine. Picks, shovels, fresno scrapers, a couple of steam shovels, black powder and the usual construction tools. The other gentlemen of the group might have notions of tools that were invented strictly for this construction, but by the early 1860's railroads had been built throughout the eastern United States. They were not built as quickly because there was not much federal backing for their construction. They were built in very short segments, linked together under one overall umbrella company and then operated. But that begs the question of tools. The Ames family made a lot of the shovels used in construction. Without too much effort one could come up with a list of manufacturers of rolling stock, locomotives, and construction tools. The two books cited above, plus ones noted by the Central Pacific side of the team will do you well in that regard.


All you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people.

10/15/2008 2:51 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: kylewyatt@aol.com

I'd add in George Kraus – High Road to Promontory, on the building of the Central Pacific. Also look for a copy of Westward to Promontory, photographs of Union Pacific official photographer A. J. Russell. Lots of tools show in the photos. A. A. Hart was the official photographer on the Central Pacific – see Mead Kibbey's book on the Hart photographs, copied and available for viewing on the CPRR Museum web site.


10/15/2008 3:01 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

You might want to look through the stereoviews, for example showing track bending, and the use of dump carts. Also 1860's patents relating to railroads would include descriptions of the prior art.

10/15/2008 4:12 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

See related discussion.

10/29/2013 10:44 PM  

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