Sunday, January 31, 2010

Color Scheme

From: "Karen & Dan Dishno"

The red background is a no no!!! Makes it very hard to read. Also, not good for those who are low vision. Please get rid of it!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Port Costa & Benicia rail yards


... My husband's grandfather, Frank J. Douglas, was yardmaster for several years in the early 1900's at Port Costa. We have visited Port Costa on several occasions; there is basically no rail yard/buildings remaining at Port Costa. We would really like to see any photos of the Port Costa and Benicia rail yards that transferred the freight via the "Solano". I see a lot of photos of the Solano, but very little of the ports and the port personnel.

We have, in our family archive, three photos of a group of men posed in front of an engine and a small building nearby. There is no identifying information, but we are certain that one of the men was Frank J. Douglas. The family story is that Frank was one of the youngest men ever to attain yard master status. He apparently trained at Denison, TX.

—Bobette Doulas

DRUM, Rail Road Photo Car

From: "Leah Olson"

I enjoyed browsing your site today...especially the old pictures. I have a question, my father has an old family photograph. The bottom says DRUM, Rail Road Photo Car ... it's printed on stiff card stock type paper. Can you tell me how I can know which rail road car this picture came from? It's of two men ... unfortunately, we don't know who ... we believe it's our Hutcheson family who went through Iowa and into Kansas.

—Leah Olson, Aiken, South Carolina

Monday, January 25, 2010

Google Books - CPRR Documents


A whole bunch of CPRR original documents are up on the web from Stanford University.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

CPRR Finance and Accounting

Inventory of the Central Pacific Railroad Collection:

A. J. Russell Stereoview #539. "Chinese at Laying Last Rail UPRR."

From: "Norton Wheeler" Wheeler-N@MSSU.EDU

I am a little confused by all the explanations. ... the photo of the completion of the Intercontinental [sic] Railroad that, according to your website's caption, depicts at least one Chinese worker. ... can you tell me which individual is definitely Chinese? Is this a version of the photo with an enlargement of the relevant section? Is your identification made on the basis of clothing, facial features, or what? Given the quality of the photo, it is difficult for me to make this identification, based on viewing the image on my computer screen.

My purpose is to make the students in my US History survey course aware of the problems that Chinese immigrants faced in the Western United States in the late 19th century, even at the level of public representation. ...

Norton Wheeler, Ph.D.
Social Science Deparatment
Missouri Southern State University

A. J. Russell Stereoview #539.


AFT "Tools for Teachers"

We received a Google Web Alert regarding posting of the following webpage. What of this "Tools for Teachers" description is historically correct and what is incorrect?:

" ... Despite their hard work, the Chinese still faced discrimination. They experienced more difficult conditions than the white workers while receiving less pay for their work. In 1867, the Chinese workers organized a strike demanding higher pay and safer working conditions. The officials ignored their demands and forced them the workers to return to work."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Judah and the 1862 Pacific Railroad Act

From: "Warren Awtrey"

I've read that Judah was a participant in writing the 1862 Pacific Railroad Bill – Is it known if he originated the idea of having competing roads build the Pacific Railroad from its eastern and western termini?

—Warren Awtrey

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Surviving Central Pacific Railroad Depot (Lovelock, Nevada)

Monday, January 11, 2010

History of Reno, Nevada railroad depots

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Chinese Railroad Labor camps in Kansas

From: "Linda Katz",

Is there any place that will give us the locations of the Chinese labor camps for the railroad going through kansas. ...

Oliver Denny, photographer

From: "Barry Swackhamer"

I am interested in the photographs of Oliver Denny. The Canadian born photographer is known to have worked in Grass Valley, Sacramento, Nevada City, Suisun and Marysville between 1865 and 1871 before moving to Portland, Oregon. While he was at Marysville, he issued a series of stereographs entitled “California Pacific Railroad.”

There was in fact a California Pacific Rail Road operating between Sacramento and Vallejo with a branch from Davis to Marysville at this time. Several of Denny’s views that I have seen (online) only make sense if Denny was photographing the California Pacific.

However, there have been some references to Central Pacific Rail Road views published in the “California Pacific Railroad” series “some of which may have been from negatives by Alfred A. Hart” (Palmquist, Pioneer Photographers of the Far West, pg. 200). I have one of these views, a variant of Hart 61 Hydraulic Mining, in my collection.

There is also an interesting CDV take by Denny of “Virginia Street, Reno” in the Union Pacific Museum. Item X364 from the Southern Pacific Collection. It is quite similar of Hart 286 of the same name and appears to have been taken about (but not exactly) the same time. See Myrick, Railroads of Nevada, pg. 15.

I would like to obtain more examples (copies?) of Oliver Denny’s images so that more light may be shed on the subject. Any information would be helpful.

—Barry Swackhamer

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Railroad Map Survey Nomenclature

From: "Sprinkler Service & Supply"

We are trying to understand some of the nomemclature used on the SVRR Extension Folsom to Maryville Map, 1857. The railroad bed bends are noted by an angle measurement with a degree at the apex and numbers at the ends of the radii such as 429+60 and 432+10. Obviously these notes refer to the degree bend in road bed, radius and length. However, we are not educated in how to read the surveying notations. We would like to plot the line against present day street maps. ...

Kevin Knauss
Sprinkler Service & Supply, Inc.
Carmichael, CA

Snowsheds and bridges

From: "McGuire, Margit"

How many snowsheds were built through the Sierra Nevada Mountains at the time the railroad was built?

How many bridges/trestles were built through the Sierra Nevada Mountains at the time the railroad was built?

Margit E. McGuire, PhD
College of Education
Seattle University

Diagrams courtesy of Kyle Wyatt (see below):

Courtesy of Kyle Wyatt

Courtesy of Kyle Wyatt

Courtesy of Kyle Wyatt

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Chamber pots

I enjoyed your comments about the fakes and when they were made – do you have any pictures of a "real chamber pot." For those of us who would really like to know?
I understand that the original also had the enameled logo on it, is this correct?
Where would be a good source to research Central Pacific chamber pots?
Thank you for your very informative site.

—Anna Jure

Note: My great-great grandfather worked for the Central Pacific – in his albums we have an endorsed pay check, never cashed, for $.10 for his wages. ... The check is for ten cents - it is in an album (loose) – we never found out why he endorsed it but never cashed it. It was an actual signed check not one with a stamped signature.

Friday, January 01, 2010


California, cornucopia of the world. Courtesy Wikipedia.


Where did your question originate? Propagandists often ask misleading questions in order to misinform. You need to verify the premise of the question to avoid being misled and manipulated.

Please be very clear in your understanding that there are only two approaches in politics and economics:

(1) voluntary individual choices including people making mutually beneficial buying decisions according to their own preferences or in giving charity, private ownership and control, allowing freely set prices to convey information to organize society ("economic freedom"); or,

(2) using force, coercion, or deception to compel people to do things that they don't want to do, such as taxing/inflating and spending, government ownership [also called "socialism", "communism", or "collectivism"] or government planning and regulation [also called "fascism" or "crony capitalism"], i.e., (the "road to serfdom").

The founders of the United States were very much afraid of coercive big government doing the latter, and did their best to limit government to a very few enumerated powers. George Washington said it best, that: "Government is not reason, it is not eloquent, it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." But, Karl Marx later wrote the Communist Manifesto advocating the second approach, which he said would require mass killings to achieve, with the result that more than a hundred million people were murdered in failed experiments in socialism/communism and fascism in Russia, Germany, China, and elsewhere in the twentieth century.

Populists and Progressives (now called "liberals," reversing the original definition to co-opt the language) in the United States follow the second approach but by misleading and blaming instead of by violent revolution, especially by falsely portraying people who are successful or rich as evil, greedy, exploitive, anti-environment, or racist. (Which is why this caution is needed.) A common trick is to misrepresent economics as if when someone wins, someone else has to lose which is completely false because a growing free economy creates wealth that benefits everyone. (It's really a con and the trick is to hope that you won't notice what could have happened but didn't ("the unseen"), for example, that if a century of income taxes had not squandered vast wealth to "help poor people," instead, everyone would be so much richer today that there would be no more poor people left to need assistance.)

Another common deception is when government regulation creates a spectacular failure, to try to deflect blame onto the industry that was regulated (for example, attempt to blame the banks when government controlled low interest rates and tax laws caused a housing bubble and after the Community Redevelopment Act required banks to lend to people who could not possibly afford to repay, for a spectacular housing crash and defaults of mortgages and mortgage insurance that threatens to take down the entire interdependent global banking, insurance, securities, and monetary systems; or to blame oil companies for oil spills after environmentalist promoted government regulations forced drilling in the most dangerous possible location while government encourages corruption and also fails to enforce safety regulations).

Don't believe that wasting more dollars on welfare than it would take to give every poor person enough money to instantly eliminate all poverty is for the benefit of the poor. The huge tax and spend U.S. government of today is largely the legacy of a hundred years of effort to undo the constitution, starting in the progressive era which re-instituted race segregation and, contrary to the original U.S. constitution, eliminated the States' check and balance against Congress and federal tyranny, and started government on taxing income, and creating increasingly worthless money. Government keeps expanding so fast that we could eliminate the income tax and replace it with nothing just by going back to the government budget of a decade earlier.

So do redress injustices, but when you see questions which imply exploitation, racism, evil business practices, harm to people, etc., often used as an excuse to take away your money and your freedom, be sure to double check the facts using original primary sources to see if what is being portrayed in the question actually happened, why, and what was left out. It is not an accident that you get the impression that life is getting worse, when actually, life is rapidly getting very much better, so much so that even poor people today live longer and better lives, and have more than did the royalty of past centuries.

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