Wednesday, November 16, 2011

News from Transcontinental Chautauqua

From: "Chris Graves"

Being the rail/historical fans you are, the following most likely will be of interest. As to the film, the historical challenges in the first draft have been corrected. I do think you will like it!

—GJ Chris Graves, NewCastle, MP32, AltaCal'a

Click to see Transcontinental Railroad Chautauqua News and Information about ... the documentary film, "The Hidden Wonder of the World; the Transcontinental Railroad Today from Sacramento to Donner Summit."

Artwork of John MacQuarrie courtesy of Chris Graves.
Artwork of John MacQuarrie courtesy of Chris Graves.

"On October 7, 1867, after Tunnel 6 was holed through and before the first locomotive went through, Federal Rail Inspectors reported the following:"
... The crest of the Sierra is pierced by a tunnel 1659 feet in length, 16 by 20 feet, through the hardest kind of blue granite, and the line opens on the slope facing the east upon the precipitous side of a high granite peak, ... and is a wonderful achievement in Railroad Engineering. ... The laborers on the tunnel have been principally Chinese. They worked in gangs of three shifts of eight hours each per day laboring steadily day and night during the storms of one of the severest winters ever known in California, upon the summit of the highest mountain range in the United States and at an elevation greater by several hundred feet than the top of Mount Washington. The drilling is done entirely by hand laborer. Drilling machines were tried, but proved a failure.


Blogger Unknown said...

I have been trying to find out exactly when the first locomotive went thru Tunnel 6, the Summit Tunnel, and how far it traveled? I have gone thru several books and find either different dates or not dates. I believe the engine was The Antelope, at least according to one source I have read.

8/04/2013 9:38 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Chris Graves"
Subject: First locomotive thru the Summit Tunnel?

The first passenger train entered Summit Tunnel at 2:30 on the afternoon of Saturday, December 7, 1867. The locomotive "Yuba" pulled ten passenger cars, 2 baggage cars and one platform car with a passenger load of 700 to 800 people. This event was recorded in the Sacramento Union of Monday, December 9, 1867.

—G J Chris Graves

8/05/2013 10:09 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Wendell Huffman"
Subject: First locomotive thru the Summit Tunnel?

I do not know when the first locomotive ran through tunnel no. 6. I'd love to know your source regarding the Antelope.

The information I have is as follows:

The Sacramento Bee (an afternoon paper) of 29 November 1867 said "this evening ... the rails are to be laid through the summit tunnel ... "

TheSacramento Union(a morning paper) of 30 November 1867 said "The track ... was laid to the Summit last evening, and the rails through the tunnel will be in place by an early hour this morning." Note: there was not much reason to wait until daylight to lay the rails through the tunnel. Also: "laying track" does not mean a locomotive ran on it – but it gives a rough "earliest possible" bracket. And, as noted below, "laying track" is not the same as "finishing track".

A telegraph despatch dated Sacramento 30 November, printed in San Francisco'sAlta Californianewspaper on 1 December 1867 said that "a construction train passed through the Summit Tunnel this afternoon." While that implies a locomotive – it does not require it. Elsewhere in the same paper it was reported: "The track ... was finished through the tunnel to the Summit on Friday evening [29 November], and on Saturday morning a special train of one car and one locomotive, with officers of the road and representatives of the press, passed over the line and through the great tunnel, arriving at the Summit in gaiety." The first problem with this report is that the summit was roughly 400 feet west of the west portal of tunnel 6. And, was the "construction train" of the telegraph despatch the same as the one-car special?

In a letter dated 1 December 1867, Mark Hopkins wrote CP Huntington that "yesterday we went to see the first locomotive pass the Summit of the Sierra ... the operatives & laborers all rejoice – all work freer & with more spirit – even the Chinamen partake of our joy ... we took legislators and editors(?) to see the rail laid into the tunnel and after rambling over the completed grade 3 miles to Strongs Canyon and through tunnel 12." We might ask whether the legislators and editors saw rail already laid into the tunnel, or rails being laid into the tunnel?

But Hopkins did not say that the locomotive ran through the tunnel. TheSacramento Unionof 2 December (on Monday morning) reported: "A special train containing ... Stanford ... E.B. Crocker ... Chas. Crocker ... and Hopkins ... , with senators ... ladies and members of the press, made the trip on Saturday, November 30th, from this city to the Sierra Nevada. The locomotive ran to within 200 yards of the summit tunnel, whence the gentlemen of the party proceeded on horseback or afoot through the tunnels to a point directly east and above Donner Lake. The track will be finished by tomorrow all the way through the tunnel, and perhaps a mile beyond." Note: there is nothing inconsistent with the idea that the track had been "laid" on the 30th but was not yet finished by the 2nd as once "laid" the track still needed to be lined and surfaced.

The Gold Hill [NV] News of 3 December put it thus: "A locomotive and passenger car ran to within two hundred yards of the Summit tunnel last Saturday. Cars will run through the tunnel this week."

—Wendell Huffman

8/05/2013 10:16 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Wendell Huffman"
Subject: First locomotive thru the Summit Tunnel?

The first locomotive through tunnel 6 absolutely was not the Antelope as its yet-to-be assembled components did not arrive in San Francisco from New York until 13 December 1867. Parts were still being delivered to Sacramento in February. The Antelope did, FWIW, pull the first train from Sacramento through to Reno in June 1868.


8/05/2013 10:17 AM  

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