Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Passenger train service, c. 1890-1910

From: "Kathy Veasey" kathy.veasey@gmail.com

I am looking for historical documention of passenger train service between West Virginia and northeastern Oregon, 1890-1910. I have learned that B & O ran from West Virginia - but that passengers would have to transfer at least once to another line before reaching their destination. What other lines were active at the time in question? Would Chicago, or what other city be the most likely transfer point?

13 Comments:

Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Kevin Bunker" mikadobear45@yahoo.com>

My stock answer to this and like questions – surprisingly frequent occurrences – is to contact a well-stocked railroad reference library, such as California State Railroad Museum Library in Sacramento. CSRML has extremely useful original editions of the stalwart Official Guide of the Railways. The OG was a quarterly compendium of railroad passenger timetables which every railroad depot, ticket office and travel agent had at their fingertips in order to help passengers make reservations and book tickets.

In there you will find just about anything you would need for any given season or year. It takes some basic "connect the dots" logic to determine train connections, how to read the printed schedules and related special notes (such as train frequency, any limited or unavailable passenger stops, etc.). Each major railroad also placed a basic route map of their lines, often showing some of the key other railroads' connecting lines.

Chicago was a likely transfer point, but equally likely (if not more so) was St. Louis since it was closer to the southeast and had a huge passenger switching terminal and Union Station. Your passenger might have gone the cheap method — all-coach, or even more likely paid the upgrade fare for a Pullman sleeper for some or all of the long journey; some railroads offered lower-cost "tourist sleepers" to various Western points in summer months, in competition with Pullmans and often in the same train. The tourist cars were more austere but very popular for the budget-conscious traveler who wanted something more comfort than a stiff backed coach seat could offer both day and night. ...

—Kevin Bunker, Portland OR

7/29/2009 9:58 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: Bob_Spude@nps.gov

During that time period there were many options, much like today with airlines -- you fly one airline to a hub and then take another airline [unless your fortunate and can get a deal with the same airline] to your point of destination.

In your case B&O to the Chicago rail hub would be the way to go. There were many options from Chicago west, but if you could afford it take the Overland Limited operated jointly by the Chicago & Northwestern and Union Pacific. A C&NW engine would take you across Illinois and Iowa to Omaha, then a UP engine would pull the train across Nebraska and on to western Wyoming, where the UP owned subsidiary Oregon Short Line RR would take you across Idaho to northeast Oregon (You would leave the Overland Limited at Granger, WY) This tale off course gets quickly complicated because railroads like modern airlines switch their schedules, their transfer hubs, and ownership over a twenty year period.

Probably best to pick a year and then use the Official Railway Guide. The 1910 one is online for reference.

—Bob

Bob Spude – Historian – Cultural Resources Management – National Park Service – Intermountain Region – 505.988.6770 Voice – 505.988.6876 Fax

The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.

7/30/2009 10:51 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Kathy Veasey" kathy.veasey@gmail.com

I looked at the 1910 train schedule you mentioned... Problem is I have no idea which railway they took. I'm thinking that "probably" because of the large families and cost involved that they probably took a route from Fayette County, WV to the nearest depot?? Then on to Cincinnati, then maybe to St Louis, on to Utah and north, northeast to Union or Wallowa Counties in Oregon. I'm certain they road the least expensive railway, despite the length of time that would have been involved.

Is the official rail guide available on line for years earlier than 1910. I know my grandmother's family made the journey in 1905, and my grandfather's family came before 1900.

7/30/2009 1:53 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: Bob_Spude@nps.gov

During the time period you're looking at railroads had promotional "immigrant cars" or trains where they would take settlers to lands in the West. This was a period when railroads like the Union Pacific, Chicago Burlington & Quincy, Santa Fe, and others wanted homesteaders to come west and settle on lands along their railroads. The greatest period of homestead filing was during the early twentieth century. This was the period also of "dry farming," when the new scientific agriculture promoted settling in dry lands (under 20 inches per year rain) – including eastern Oregon. The dust bowl years would prove this a bad move.

So, my guess is the Oregon Short Line subsidized at least one trip west to settle along its line in the dry lands of eastern Oregon via immigrant train. Since the OSL was part of the Union Pacific they were probably able to purchase a discount ticket from their home in Western Virginia across the country. So, the Baltimore & Ohio (and affiliated lines) from Fayette County, WV to Chicago, then Chicago & Northwestern to Omaha where the immigrant train took them west to the promised land. You can follow this route by looking at the maps (B&O system, and UP system) published in the 1910 Official Railway Guide (these maps are listed in the table of contents – just remember the page number in the pdf online file is different than the page number on the actual document page. So, it will take a little familiarizing yourself with the pdf file first)

Period newspapers are a good place to look for railroad advertisements which offered discount tickets to the West. Don't know what 1900 or 1905 newspaper your West Virginians read, but probably the state capital's newspaper is the one to start with.

Sorry, there are earlier versions of the guide online but very early; none that I know of for 1900 or 1905. The 1910 guide would not be that different if you're just looking at the route maps. ...

—Bob

Bob Spude – Historian – Cultural Resources Management – National Park Service – Intermountain Region – 505.988.6770 Voice – 505.988.6876 Fax

The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.

7/30/2009 6:35 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Campbell Nine" cmpbllnine@gmail.com

I'm trying to write a novel — the action takes place during the first years of the 20th century. I'm looking for the route and schedule of the San Francisco Overland Limited, specifically the timetable of this train when it left from SF(Oakland) and arrived in Council Bluffs and from there to Chicago. ...

—V. Campbell-Mass

6/07/2010 2:25 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

See related discussion.

1/01/2011 6:32 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

See another related discussion.

1/02/2011 12:30 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Linda Borromeo" llborromeo@gmail.com

Thank you so much for this service!

I need to find out how a passenger would travel from Boston to Seattle in July 1893. I need to find out the name(s) of the railroad(s) the traveler would take from Boston to Chicago and then on to St. Paul. Also, if possible, I would like to know how long that journey would take.

Then, if I understand correctly, the passenger would take the Great Northern Railway from St. Paul to Seattle (journey time 72:02 hrs on that leg of the trip). ...

—Linda

11/20/2013 10:57 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

See the The Official Guide of the Railways.

We have the 1910 edition online.

The 1891 and 1893 editions are available on DVD.

11/20/2013 10:59 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Linda Borromeo" llborromeo@gmail.com

Thank you! This looks like just what I need. I appreciate your help and prompt reply.

—Linda

11/21/2013 6:28 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

See related discussion.

5/24/2014 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "Erick Reinstedt" emar@tcsn.net
Re: Traveling west by rail on the transcontinental railroad, c. 1884

I am writing a novel set in 1884 in which two people are traveling west by rail on the transcontinental railroad, just east of Cheyenne, WY. I am having trouble finding out what the interior of the cars would have been like, especially if they would have sat side by side or facing one another (plus additional details would help on interior descriptions – how heated, how lighted, where stow luggage, etc. – but that is the biggest need). I don't know cost differences and whether they would have been simply in a passenger coach, or some kind of sleeping car (but then would strangers sit together?). Thanks so much! (The core is that a young man sees a young lady boarding and wants to work a situation/position where he can sit by her and get to know her. It needs to be a situation in which a Reverend and a Judge might also share the car along with families and cowboys.) Again, thanks so much for any help you are able to give me!

—Erick Reinstedt

5/29/2014 9:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "Donovan Tracy" donovan@donovantracy.com

I'm interested in the approximate travel time from Chicago to Portland OR in 1910 and what would have been the likely railroad(s) used. ...

—Donovan Tracy

7/08/2016 12:11 PM  

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