Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spacing of towns along the Kansas Pacific Railroad

From: "Ed Harold" eharold@weskanschools.org

I live along the Kansas Pacific Railroad and teach history. All towns are approximately 10-15 miles apart from Denver to Kansas City at least. Do you know how or why that would be? ...


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Randy Hees" hees@astound.net

There are two common explanations

The first issue is one of simple economics and transportation. A typical farm wagon, or a pedestrian move at about 3 miles an hour. With a 10 to 15 mile spacing between depots, a farm is never more than 2.5 hours from a station, and most are less. Clearly a town needs a minimum number of people to support it. Ten to 15 miles provided enough population within the tradeshed of each town to make it successful. This does change as farm size grows (and as a result population drops) and as we see paved roads and higher non-rail transportation speeds.

The second is related to the need to stop for water. As best I can tell a "catalog" locomotive could reliably go 25 miles between water stops. This varies considerably based on train length, grades and other operational issues, as well as tender design. Assuming 25 miles as a minimum, 15 mile water stop would mean that crews always had water available (and would not need to take water at every tank). Of course water tanks could be independent of towns.

I strongly suspect the first explanation is the more correct one.

—Randy Hees

2/25/2009 10:32 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Don Snoddy" ddsnoddy@gmail.com

The most likely reason is that towns needed to be within a reasonable travelling distance for horses and wagons to bring in farm products. Also, that was about the "round trip in a day" distance farm horses could travel, and the farmer still get his in town chores done. Along the Kansas Pacific you have to think about north and south as well as the railroad. Most of the big towns were a bit further apart, and these would have had fueling facilities for the railroad. While locomotive could go further than those distances without taking on fuel or water, one could not always count on being able to go from point A to point B without having to stop. If you did stop, the engine still kept on running, using up its on board resources. There are other factors as well, but these, to me are the most important.


2/25/2009 10:36 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: kylewyatt@aol.com

Probably has a lot to do with the economic distance you can wagon haul crops – plus the distance a track maintenance crew can effectively cover on foot and by hand car.


2/25/2009 11:08 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Jim Wilke" woodburner@earthlink.net>

The tender tanks of Rogers locomotives on the Kansas Pacific during its construction and early operation had between 1800 and 1900 gallons water capacity.

This is a larger capacity than specified for Rogers engines built at the same time for many east coast railroads, reflecting the KP's operating conditions in regions where water was not readily available.

Similar conditions existed for the Union Pacific Railroad, which ordered Rogers engines with tanks of 1900 gallons capacity, including the famous No. 119. Rogers engines operating in the Central Pacific had even larger tanks. Most were 2000 gallons, while the engines Success and Excelsior had 2400 gallon tanks, probably for running in the Nevada desert.

—Jim Wilke

2/25/2009 1:28 PM  

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