Sunday, June 05, 2022

"Lightning Express goes coast-to-coast in 83 hours (in 1876!)"

"Lightning Express goes coast-to-coast in 83 hours (in 1876!)" by Scott Mall, © Freightwaves, June 3, 2022. (History Article)

" ... the record for the [coast to coast] trip prior to 1880 took place on June 4, 1876. Only 83 hours after leaving New York City, the Transcontinental Express (also known as the Lightning Express) arrived in San Francisco. ... A train left the Jersey City Station of the Pennsylvania Railroad early on the morning of June 1, 1876 and began to speed west along the tracks. From there to California, the mainline was cleared for the train. Other trains were moved to side tracks for it. Supplies, water and coal were made ready for fast loading. Shifts of engineers, firemen, brakemen and conductors were stationed at strategic points along the route to relieve crews; stops were very brief. As the train sped westward, word of its trip spread over the telegraph. The message was short but compelling: 'The Lightning Express is on the way.' The Express stopped for as short a period as possible to change equipment and crews, load fuel and supplies. It rode the rails as fast as possible day and night, and arrived in California on June 4. The trip took 83 hours and 39 minutes from Jersey City to Oakland; in other words, only three days, 11 hours and 39 minutes. ... There were five railroads involved in the cross-country trip ... (the Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh, Fort Worth & Chicago, the Chicago & North Western, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific) ... Four of them exchanged locomotives along their segments in order to avoid mechanical failure. However, the final 875 miles on Central Pacific track was pulled by a single locomotive (#149, known as the 'Black Fox'). And one engineer was at the helm during that part of the run. The Black Fox was driven from Ogden, Utah to Oakland by Henry S. Small, one of the railroad’s most experienced engineers. ... For his devotion, Small was awarded a gold medal by the trip organizers ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]