Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Cost of nitroglycerin for summit tunnel

From: "Karl Pape" kdpape@me.com

Is there any information about how much nitroglycerin cost for tunnel six?

—Karl Pape, Truckee Donner Historical Society


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crocker eventually paid $500 in gold to settle a patent dispute over the railroad's unauthorized manufacture of nitroglycerine.

Do not think it is possible to determine a definite 19th century historical price for the nitroglycerin. This is because it was probably made, not purchased, by the CPRR.

The explosive was far too unstable to be safely transported, as demonstrated by the April 16, 1866 explosion in San Francisco.

As a result the CPRR hired an English chemist, James Howden, who manufactured the nitroglycerin locally for the construction of the railroad's summit tunnel. Assuming he was employed by the railroad, but don't know for sure that he was not a contractor. Perhaps surviving employment records held by the California State Railroad Museum might include the chemist's salary.

4/11/2017 9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "Bruce Cooper" bcc@CPRR.org
Subject: Nitro at Summit Tunnel

The CPRR used 500 or more kegs of black powder each day when construction near the summit reached its apex with the cost running anywhere from $2.50 to $15.00 per keg proving most expensive whenever more was required. Rock near Cisco the rock proved so hard that it was nearly impossible to drill a sufficient depth for blasting resulting in many shots blown upwards out of the drill holes rather than shattering the rock. The CPRR thus established a nitroglycerin factory near the summit tunnel, hauling glycerin, nitric and sulfuric acids from Cisco by teams. Some was used on the Summit tunnel and the two tunnels to the east, but after a "disastrous explosion" Strobridge ordered a cessation to all use of the material. Although dynamite was invented this same summer of 1866, it was never used on the initial construction of the Central Pacific.

See also black powder.

4/15/2017 11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "Karl Pape" kdpape@me.com

Thank you for the information, it fills in the last piece I needed to complete my article for the Truckee Donner Historical Society on Tunnel 6.


4/17/2017 10:51 AM  

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