Sunday, July 07, 2024

First woman telegrapher over the Sierra Nevada, Frances Dorsey

From: "Joan Merriam"

My family's handed-down history says that my maternal grandmother, Frances Dorsey, was the first woman telegrapher on "Tunnel x" over the Sierra Nevada. I've designated it as "Tunnel X" because I don't know which tunnel it was, and am hoping someone in this group can tell me which of the tunnels featured a telegraph office (I'm presuming, either above the tunnel or alongside the tracks). Something in my memory says Tunnel 13, but I could be dead wrong.

Any ideas? (I've tried to find the location of historical telegraph offices along the RR over the Sierra, but thus far my search has been fruitless.) ...

—Joan Merriam, Nevada City, CA

Monday, June 10, 2024

Easterly of Tunnel Nos. 4 and 39

From: "J Roche"

... [In the photo below,] appears to be a Tunnel, easterly of Tunnel Nos. 4 and 39. ... wondering if a tunnel might have been daylighted on the outside track, or if the inner track is actually the older of the two tracks, since it has a tighter curvature? ...

—Jeff Roche

easterly of Tunnel Nos. 4 and 39

Friday, April 19, 2024

Palace Hotel San Francisco – Overland RR Ticket Office

Palace Hotel, San Francisco – Overland RR Ticket Office [FaresTimetable]

Palace Hotel San Francisco – Overland RR Ticket Office
Watkins Stereview #1665, detail of the Railroad Ticket Office, c. 1872

Thursday, February 29, 2024

The Pacific Railroad - The Hartford Daily Times, Hartford, Connecticut, August 15, 1853

The Pacific Railroad - The Hartford Daily Times, Hartford, Connecticut, August 15, 1853

The Pacific Railroad - The Hartford Daily Times, Hartford, Connecticut, August 15, 1853

Hartford, Connecticut, August 15, 1853, No. 3057.
The Pacific Railroad.
The Washington Union of Friday contains & well written "leader" on the Constitutional questions which surround the construction of the Pacific Railroad. The article is doubtless, from the pen of secretary Davis. It is carefully written, and maybe looked upon as the programme marked out by the Cabinet. We give a quotation: "It may turn out, and we think it probably will, that the determination of the government to furnish effectual aid in the construction of the road through its own territory, wherein lie the great physical obstacles, will give to the enterprise so much certainty of success, that individual and municipal capital will be enabled to construct not only one but many diverging tracks through the States through whose territory it may pass. In that event, the original strict doctrine of construction stands intact. If it becomes necessary, however, for the government to give aid to private capital to promote the enterprise in the States, then it does not follow that an appropriation from the treasury will be essential-the aid may be derived from the public lands in those States; and, in that event, the old strict-construction principle may not be disturbed. But even if it becomes essential, in order to insure the success of the enterprise, that money should be appropriated by the government to be expended in aid of the work in the States, it may be found, upon careful investigation, that the power to protect our Pacific possessions, in obedience to an express trust assumed by the government, may so far be regarded as a specified or express grant in the Constitution, as to authorize the appropriation." That the Government has a right to construct all kinds of roads through the territories, no one will question. We imagine that constructing works through the States will not be so easily disposed of. There is a large body of men in every Congress who believe that the movements of the General Government should be as circumscribed as possible. State rights should be preserved at all cost. The nearer we keep matters to the people, the better their matters are managed. If the National Government has a right to enter this State and build a railroad, or a portion of a road we cannot perceive why it may not enter and build up a system of canals in opposition to those already in existence. Local affairs are best managed by local authorities. Wrong may be done by our Common Councils as well as by more distant bodies: but such wrongs meet with a much more speedy adjustment. Had the robberies of the New York Aldermen been committed by Congress, the villainies would have gone on increasing for years. State sovereignty should never be invaded. The National Government should be tied down to the plain letter of the Constitution. Congress can and should build the Pacific Railroad through the territories. The moment it enters the States, however, that moment the enterprise should pass into the hands of individuals. Congress has no more right to run a railroad through this State than it has to go to Syracuse and open a salt boiling establishment. –Albany Knickerbocker

Thursday, February 15, 2024

25th Anniversary, CPRR Museum Website

Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum

A quarter century: 1999-2024

Stopped counting years ago after more than Five million visitors!

Happy 25th Anniversary and thanks for all the kind words!

Monday, January 01, 2024

CPRR Discussion Group

Welcome to the CPRR Discussion Group at the Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum.

See HOW TO POST to the CPRR Discussion Group.

© 2024 Use of this Web site constitutes acceptance of the User Agreement which permits personal use web viewing only; no copying; arbitration; no warranty. Only send content intended for publication. Links are not merchant endorsements – caveat emptor. If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate.

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Copyright © 2024,

Saturday, October 28, 2023

"A Golden nugget in the middle of Nebraska"

New Golden Spike Monument: "A Golden nugget in the middle of Nebraska" by Penny Craft, © North Platte Bulletin, October 27, 2023. (News Article)

" ... A 43.23-foot [square root of the year 1869] tall golden spike [4 foot square aluminum covered with gold leaf] stopped in North Platte during a nine-city tour that began in Lexington, Ky. and continued to its destination in Utah. The monument [by artist Douwe Blumberg] arrived Oct. 23 [2023] at the Utah State Capitol. It will be on display there, but scheduled to be permanently placed in June 2024 at the Golden Spike Park at Reeder Ranch, an 8-acre plot through which the original transcontinental line ran, on the outskirts of Brigham City, Utah. ... " [More]

Also see, Video from the Golden Spike Foundation.

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Friday, September 08, 2023

Fire Lookout on Red Mountain

From: "Timothy Roumph"

Today a friend and I climbed to the lookout on Red Mountain. We took an unmarked trail from the Fordyce Lake Road, very steep but takes you right to the lookout. While up there we met a communications worker at the other end of the mountain and he told me he believed there was a railroad grade nearby, we never saw any grades. My best guess if there was a RR grade it would've been more than likely for logging and at much lower elevations. I have followed many of them in the Plumas and Tahoe National Forests and have become familiar with what they look like even after many decades of the rails having been removed.

Another guy told me the building was used by the railroads to look at the tracks below by I-80 (now) not there then for dangers such as snow blocking the path of the trains. There are still a few poles standing which I believe were telephone line poles, the poles going directly to the building.

Can you ... tell me if the building was used by RR personnel to look for dangers to the track or was only used as a fire lookout? Also any info about any RR grades relatively close to the building? ...

–Tim Roumph, Sparks, Nevada

Fire Lookout on Red Mountain

Fire Lookout on Red Mountain

Friday, July 21, 2023

National Archives

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Winchester 1887 rifle with CPRR markings

From: "Riversong F Arms"

We have a Winchester 1887 with CPRR markings in our reference collection on both the barrel and the tang. We had earlier thought it belonged to the Canadian Pacific Railway (we are in Canada) but it was pointed out to us recently that the second R likely points to Central Pacific Rail Road ownership.

Do you have any records of CPRR owned Winchester 1887's and any details on the configuration they were contracted in if so?

–Ted Kouznetsov, Secretary, Riversong F Arms (9880755 Canada Inc)

CPR CPRR Winchester 1887 rifle
Picture of the CPRR markings on the tang.
Courtesy Ted Kouznetsov, Secretary, Riversong F Arms

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Other topics

Other topics

While 99% of our acclaimed huge website is about the first transcontinental railroad, including its railroad history with exhibits, maps, photographs, and its Chinese railroad workers, there also are some other topics:

The Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad in Maine

The Palace Hotel in San Francisco

Some 19th Century City Views of Salt Lake City, Sacramento, and San Francisco

Making Health Care Affordable

Lenses, cameras, and photo equipment (with extensive reviews of alternative manual focus lenses)*

More wonderful (or outrageous) quotations, anecdotes, and aphorisms*

Magnetic resonance therapy

Personal Finance Educational Concepts and Investing Notes

Cooking links to terrific video's from "Dr. Ben's Kitchen"

Fix searches with "No results found"

Stay Safe: Wilderness/Railroad SAFETY WARNING! and Railroad/Photography SAFETY WARNING!

[*Book length!]

Hope that listing them here, will help make finding some of these scattered gems easier. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 13, 2023

"'Chinese Workers' Experience' exhibit sheds light on forgotten history"

"'Chinese Workers' Experience' exhibit sheds light on forgotten history" by SAKURA GRAY, © CBS News Sacramento, May 12, 2023. (News Article/TV/Video)

"The California State Railroad Museum's "Chinese Workers' Experience" exhibit tells the stories of Chinese railroad workers who played a fundamental role in the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. ... Dr. Herbert K. Yee was a pioneer in bringing the exhibit to fruition. ... As a descendant of a Chinese railroad worker, the exhibit gave a voice to Yee's family history that has been passed down for generations. ... " [More]

"Forgotten" history?

[Courtesy Google Alerts and Bruce C. Cooper.]

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Happy Anniversary - May 10th

Monday, February 20, 2023

Oakland Mayor John L. Davie 1892 conflict with CPRR

From: "John Sutton"
CC: "Garrett Sutton"

John L. Davie, who later became the longest serving mayor of Oakland, took on the Central Pacific Railroad when he built a warehouse on the waterfront there, and challenged the "fence around the city" of the railroad. It became quite a conflict, and it happened in 1892. Would you happen to have the dates in which that took place? ...

–John Sutton

Sunday, February 19, 2023

CPRR President Isaac L. Requa

From: "John Sutton"
Subject: Historical Inquiry - CPRR President Isaac L. Requa

My great, great grandfather was named Isaac Requa. He was President of the Central Pacific Railroad from 1894 until at least 1899, but perhaps later as he died in 1905.

I am wondering if anyone there might be able to tell the dates, months particularly would be good, that he held his tenure as President. ...

–John Sutton

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Question about 'Jupiter' photograph

What is the unusual tall structure behind the 'Jupiter' locomotive (with Chinese) in this photograph. Where is this? (Any other information about this unknown?)

Saturday, December 31, 2022

CPRR Discussion Group

Welcome to the CPRR Discussion Group at the Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum.

See HOW TO POST to the CPRR Discussion Group.

© 2023 Use of this Web site constitutes acceptance of the User Agreement which permits personal use web viewing only; no copying; arbitration; no warranty. Only send content intended for publication. Links are not merchant endorsements – caveat emptor. If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate.

CPRR Museum Category Tags:

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Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum.
Copyright © 2023,

Friday, December 23, 2022

Arizona spike to be sold at auction

The Arizona spike from the May 10, 1869 ceremony at the completion of the transcontinent railroad is to be sold by the Museum of the City of New York at a Christies auction.

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Sunday, November 20, 2022

"Where are the precious spikes of the Transcontinental Railroad?"

"Where are the precious spikes of the Transcontinental Railroad?" by Matthew Nobert, California State Railroad Museum Federation, © Nexstar Media Inc., Nov 19, 2022. (News Article)

"[1] ... Leland Stanford Junior University would receive The Last Spike ['May 8, 1869'] in 1892 when David Hewes donated it to the university. Today it resides in the universities Cantor Arts Center. ... [2] In November 2005, the California State Railroad Museum purchased the ['May 10, 1869' lost] spike ... [with] the spur at the tip of the spike ... and have it on display today at their location in Old Town Sacramento. ... [3] The second golden spike that Stanford was given during the ceremony was commissioned by Frederick Marriott, founder of the San Francisco News Letter. ... given to a Union Pacific dignitary or sent back to the News Letter where it may have been destroyed in the 1906 fire of San Francisco. [4] The Silver Spike of Nevada ... was sent back to Virginia City ... Today the silver spike lives along side The Last Spike at Candor Arts Center at Stanford University. ... [5] Arizona’s Governor Anson P.K. Safford commissioned a iron spike to be plated on the top in gold and the lower section in silver. ... today it is on display at the Museum of the City of New York. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Thursday, October 06, 2022

E.O. Gibson's Wx4 Timetable web site

Sunday, October 02, 2022

Tom Macaulay map, book, and reports collections at the Truckee-Donner Historical Society

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

"Trans-Mississippi Railroad Construction to 1900" by Robert Edgar Riegel, Ph.D., 1922

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Three more unique Railroad Maps

Three more unique Railroad Maps (click map images to enlarge):

Map of Location of Central Pacific Railroad of California from Sacramento to Big Bend of Truckee, Theodore Judah, Chief Engineer; 1861; Roads; Civil Works Map File, 1818 - 1947; Records of the office of the Chief of Engineers, Record Group 77; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

Map of Location of CPRR from Sacramento to Big Bend of Truckee, 1861
Map of Location of CPRR from Sacramento to Big Bend of Truckee, 1861

Map of the Railroad Survey from Omaha, Nebraska, to San Francisco, California; June 30, 1867; New Mexico, Utah, California, Oregon, and Washington; Civil Works Map File, 1818 - 1947; Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, Record Group 77; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

Map of the Railroad Survey from Omaha Nebraska to San Francisco California 6-30-1867
Map of the Railroad Survey from Omaha Nebraska to San Francisco California, June 30, 1867

Map of the Western Division of the Central Pacific Railroad Company; Central Pacific Railroad; Railroad Right-of-Way Maps, ca. 1872 - ca. 1875; National Archives Identifier: 84785984; Records of the Bureau of Land Management, Record Group 49; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

Map of the Western Division of the Central Pacific Railroad Company
Map of the Western Division of the Central Pacific Railroad Company

Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

"New sculpture at Golden Spike park honors unsung heroes of railroad"

"New sculpture at Golden Spike park honors unsung heroes of railroad" by Jeff DeMoss, © Tremonton Leader, July 13, 2022. (News Article)

" ... The newest monument standing at Box Elder County's Golden Spike National Historical Park is, by design, one of the first things visitors to the park now see as they approach the site at Promontory Summit. The 24-foot-high sculpture, entitled Monument to Their Memory, was built to honor all the railroad workers from many different cultures and backgrounds whose backbreaking efforts were crucial in the construction of the nation's first transcontinental railroad. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Monday, June 27, 2022

"Tracks: Images Documenting the Building of the Railroads"

"Tracks: Images Documenting the Building of the Railroads" by Nick Fry, © Grolier Club, June 29, 2022. (Virtual Lecture on Building the Railroads)

"Nicholas Fry, curator of Travelers, Tracks and Tycoons, will speak on Tracks: Images Documenting the Building of the Railroads. His presentation will show the portrayal of railroad construction and workers in graphics from woodcuts to modern photographs. Offered in connection with the exhibition Travelers, Tracks and Tycoons: The Railroad in American Legend and Life, curated by the St. Louis Mercantile Library, and running in the Grolier Club's ground-floor exhibition hall through July 30, 2022." [ONLINE VIDEO]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Lewis Clement, founding chicken rancher in Castro Valley

"Lewis Clement, founding chicken rancher in Castro Valley"

On Jun 19, 2021 "Rick Kelly" wrote:

... Castro Valley, California is about 15 miles from downtown Oakland. Historically, it is mostly known as the 2nd largest chicken ranching community in California history, from about 1905-1950. It turns out that Lewis [Metzler] Clement was one of three people responsible for the start of chicken ranching in town, in fact in a 1938 presentation he was (indirectly, but reliably) identified as the founder of the movement. Nowadays, he gets no credit, I mean to change that. ...

"In 1899 Clement retired to a farm in Castro Valley on one of the lots of former boss James Strobridges’ Laurel Farm subdivision and set about raising chickens. He had a windmill and water tank installed in 1899, the following year he erected a 117-foot-long chicken barn. Clement lived in town for the rest of his life, passing in 1914. His one surviving son (two died as children) and his grandson were famed for early radio transmissions between Hawaii and California in 1914."
—From 'Mapping the Evolution of Castro Valley' by Rick Kelly

When the Recorder's office opens, I will figure out exactly which one of Jim Strobridge's Laurel Farm lots he set his farm up on (pretty sure it was lot 14 or 15).

Subdivision of Laurel Farm, 1884
Tract map of [James H.] Strobridge's land as subdivided in 1884

... I have also attached the newspaper clippings that document Clement's building out his chicken ranch in town.

Castro Valley Chicken Rancher Clement
Castro Valley Chicken Rancher, Clement.

"For Peacherinos"
For Peacherinos
Courtesy of Rick Kelly.

Lewis Metzler Clement, portrait c. 1910
Lewis Metzler Clement, portrait c. 1910
Courtesy of the Bruce C. Cooper Collection.

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.]

Thursday, June 02, 2022

"Nevada's Central Pacific Railroad"

"Nevada's Central Pacific Railroad" by Dennis Cassinelli, © Nevada Appeal, June 1, 2022. (History Article)

" ... Being a construction person, I cannot help but admire what was accomplished by these people between April 1868 and May 1869. Without heavy construction equipment, these men built a railroad that crossed the entire expanse of the state of Nevada in a little more than one year. The roadbed was flat and smooth, and the grading was done with Chinese laborers using wheelbarrows, picks and shovels. The roadbed was built up by taking material from a 'borrow ditch' on either side and throwing it up onto the roadbed. In a hill or cut section, the material was thrown up over the side and not hauled long distances as it is in modern construction. The original roadbed didn't even have ballast between the ties in many areas. This was added later when the line was completed and ballast material could be brought in on railroad cars. ... So far, I have found several railroad spikes, a broken brake shoe, some track plates and a remarkable cover plate from a journal box with the inscription 'C.P.R.R. — 1875.' ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Monday, May 30, 2022

The work of Chinese railroad workers endangered

"The work of Chinese railroad workers endangered." by Raymond Douglas Chong, © AsAmNews, May 29, 2022. (News Article)

" ... The Central Pacific Railroad steam locomotive rolled through the Summit Tunnel on November 30, 1867. ... vandalism [awful graffiti problem (CLICK)] threatens a piece of American history made possible by the Chinese who built the Transcontinental Railroad. The National Trust for Historic Preservation listed Summit Tunnels Number 6 and Number 7 and Summit camp as one of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places" for 2021. The National Trust wants to raise awareness about the threats facing one of the nation's greatest treasures as part of our American history. ... The Summit Tunnel Conservation Association's mission is to protect and preserve the 1867 Transcontinental Railroad Tunnel Area in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They are pursuing the National Historic Landmark designation from the National Park Service. It will illustrate its significant historical meaning for Americans. ... The Summit Tunnel Conservation Association wants to establish a storytelling and research center about the Summit Tunnel. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Fake news, May 8, 1869 (Transcontinental railroad completed today; oops! Just kidding!)

[An embarassing shoddy journalistic eyewitness account of the future, evidently written ahead of time;
Oops! – Cancelled! – So sorry!  Emphasis in red added.]

New York Herald  Monday, May 10, 1869


The Pacific Railroad

Celebration of the completion of the road in California — a gala day in San Francisco and Sacramento — general rejoicings and jubilations — why the roads were not joined.

San Francisco, May 8, 1869

The Pacific Railroad celebration to-day was to be remembered for all time in San Francisco. The day was ushered in by a salute of 10 guns. All the federal forts of the harbor fired a salute, the city bells were rung and the steam whistles blown. All night the whole city was illuminated and presented a brilliant appearance. The procession was the largest and most enthusiastic ever witnessed in San Francisco. The people were eager and willing to observe an event of so much importance to this day and the Pacific coast, and turned out en masse. Business was generally suspended. Nearly every citizen exhibited a hearty interest in the demonstration. The military and civic display was grand. In addition to the state military all the available United States troops from the several forts here participated on the occasion, while the civic societies turned out with full ranks.

The city and harbor presented a magnificent site. During the day the principal buildings were draped with the banners of every nation and the streets were thronged with an excited and joyous people. The shipping was dressed in fine style.

The dispatch from the junction of the road announcing the driving of the last spike of the Central Pacific Road at 1:00 A. M.[sic] sent a thrill through the city. Congratulatory messages were transmitted to the directors of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific roads by the California pioneers.

At Sacramento the event was celebrated in a grand and enthusiastic manner. The city was crowded with a multitude of people from all parts of the state and Nevada. The Grand Lodge of the Odd Fellows, in session in the city, accepted an invitation to attend the Sacramento demonstration, and lodges from Nevada, Grass Valley, Vallejo, San Francisco, Placerville, San Jose, Maryville, and Virginia City and Gold Hill, Nevada were also in attendance. The lanes of travel to and from Sacramento were thrown open to the public free and immense numbers of people took advantage of the circumstance and flocked hither. The Central Pacific Company has 30 locomotives gaily decked and arange in front of the city, and as the signal gun was fired announcing the driving of the last spike of the road the locomotives opened a chorus of whistles, and all the bells and steam whistles in the city joined in.

Profound regret is expressed because the roads were not joined today.

Dispatches from Promontory say that several hundred men had seized a train at Piedmont on which was President Durant, telling him they were hungry and must have their money, and that they would detain him until it was forthcoming. The non-arrival of Mr. Durant is alleged to be the principal cause for postponing the ceremony of joining the roads until Monday next.

Golden Spike Ceremony by A.J. Russell
'Imperial' (10" x 13") photo of the actual ceremony on May 10th at Promontory Summit:
"Golden Spike Ceremony with Flag and Camera, Promontory Point, Utah, May 10, 1869" by Andrew J. Russell.
A.J. Russell's Glass Plate Negatives are at the Oakland Museum of California.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Central Pacific Railroad Locomotive #173 - Coal or Wood?

Subject: Central Pacific 173 - Coal or Wood?
From: "Paul Quade"

Hi and thanks in advance for even looking at this [message]. I really appreciate there's somebody out there that might even be able to answer this question.

I've been told diamond smokestacks like the one on the Central Pacific 173 engine was to help circulate embers from wood burning and help them continue to burn until they were small enough to be relatively harmless if they still somehow escaped the screening at the top.

Which brings me to the enclosed photograph of the CP 173 [formerly Western Pacific Railroad "H"] which shows the tender with what appears to be coal loaded in it.

Central Pacific Locomotive #173
"CPRR Locomotive #173 'Sonoma' 4-4-0 Norris, 1864." ©

What I find interesting about that is, as I'm sure you're aware, the CP 173 was also the basis for the the "Lilly Belle" the train in Walt Disney's backyard.

Central Pacific Locomotive #173

Central Pacific Locomotive #173
Lilly Belle model train with Walt Disney

In the [above two] photos you can see Walt's version clearly depicts the train as a wood burner.

So my question is, was the diamond stack on the original CP 173 simply a leftover from wood burning days or was the CP 173 actually able to burn both wood and coal depending on whatever was available?

Just as a side note: I'm a conductor on the Disneyland Railroad and frequently have the pleasure of having the CK Holliday locomotive pulling my train set. I love discussing the evolution of the CP 173, Lilly Belle, and CK Holliday with our guests and this wood vs. coal question has been on my mind lately. Hopefully you might be able to help me sort that out.

—Paul Quade

Monday, April 11, 2022

Question - How is the debate over a northern or southern route settled?

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Holabird’s February Reno Auction ... CPRR specimen stock certificate

" ... Holabird’s February Reno Auction", ©, March 11, 2022. (News Article)

"Fans of Western Americana turned out in droves for Holabird’s massive, four-day Western Trails & Treasures Premier Auction, held February 24th thru 27th, online and live in the gallery located ... in Reno. ... A scarce, 19th century Central Pacific Railroad (California) specimen stock certificate for $100 par shares, with a vignette at the bottom of three allegorical females, [sold for] $750 ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Central Pacific Railroad specimen stock certificate
Central Pacific Railroad specimen stock certificate.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Rail Thermite Welding

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

"Edward Harriman improved railroads while building a fortune"

"Edward Harriman improved railroads while building a fortune" by Scott Mall, © FreightWaves Classics, February 22, 2022. (History Article)

" ... The (financial) Panic of 1893 negatively impacted most U.S. businesses for several years. Harriman was nearly 50 years old in 1897 when he became a director of the Union Pacific Railroad, which was then in receivership. In 1898, with the financial assistance of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., Harriman and a syndicate acquired the Union Pacific. Harriman’s key business achievement was the reorganization and rebuilding of the Union Pacific. By May 1898, he was chairman of the railroad’s executive committee, and from that time until his death, 'his word was the law on the Union Pacific system.' ... Harriman made a strenuous, daylight-hours-only trip from the Missouri River to the Pacific on the railroad in 1898. It was said that he inspected 'every mile, every station, every flatcar and engine.' One railroad superintendent stated that 'he saw every poor tie, blistered rail and loose bolt.' Under Harriman’s leadership every problem on the railroad was catalogued and fixed, and within months he had the ailing railroad in excellent health. Harriman reduced the company’s debt and upgraded its equipment, investing nearly $50 million by 1904. Harriman gained control of the Central Pacific Railroad in 1900-01. ... He became president of the Central Pacific in 1903. From 1901-09, Harriman was also the president of the Southern Pacific Railroad ... In 1904 he invested more than $22 million in the Central Pacific and $70 million in the Southern Pacific to improve the railroads. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Friday, February 04, 2022

"Southern Pacific history remembered"

"Southern Pacific history remembered", Classic Trains, © Kalmbach Media, February 4, 2022. (History Article)

" ... Union Pacific purchased the Southern Pacific on Sept. 12, 1996. SP enthusiasts can take pleasure in knowing that technically SP merged UP, not the other way around. On Feb. 1, 1998, the Southern Pacific Transportation Company (a Delaware corporation) merged the Union Pacific Railroad and was then renamed the Union Pacific Railroad Company. Thus ended more than a century of Southern Pacific history." [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

"Most Expensive Mansion in New Jersey ..."

"Most Expensive Mansion in New Jersey ..." by Luna Fawkes, © The Proclaimer, Santa Clarita Valley, February 4, 2022. (News Article)

"A Mahwah house steeped in Gilded Age splendor is the most expensive address in New Jersey. The Crocker-McMillin mansion, a 58-room, a four-story brick masterpiece that has been compared to the royal residence in Versailles, sold for $26 million in late December, making it the most expensive mansion sold in the Garden State last year. ... The house was a result of America's tremendous industrial riches at the turn of the century. George Crocker was a businessman whose father co-founded the Central Pacific Railroad Company ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Railroad History Myths Repeated

"A Lesson from Railroad History" by Lawrence W. Reed, President Emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education (, © The Newnan Times-Herald, February 1, 2022. (Article)

" ... The story of the five transcontinental railroads built by 1900 often overlooks some remarkable lessons about private initiative and government subsidies. Four of the five transcontinentals received huge 'donations' from Washington in the form of land grants and taxpayer cash. [Myth #1 – in fact, not subsidies, and it was bond investors' cash (see CPRR prospectus, UPRR)] [James J. Hill's] Great Northern was the only one that accepted neither and the only one that never went bankrupt. [Myth #2 – in fact, the Central Pacific Railroad never went into bankruptcy] ... The lure of subsidies created powerful incentives for the other railroads to throw down tracks just to get the government goodies. That's why hundreds of miles of track had to be replaced later [Myth #3 – in fact, CPRR construction was 'first-class'] before any train could ride them [Myth #4 – in fact, transcontinental train through traffic began immediately and the UPRR's deficient construction was replaced over time]. Historian Burton Folsom, author of the classic book, The Myth of the Robber Barons, reveals that before the lines of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific met where the famous Golden Spike connected them, teams from the two railroads blew up each other's track [Myth #5 – in fact, CPRR and UPRR attacking each other with explosives never happened, likely a complete misinterpretation of a newspaper illustration because its explanation was printed on a different page separated from the engraving.] to claim more land and cash from Washington. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

[Mr. Reed and his excellent Foundation for Economic Education has for more than seven decades been the leader in teaching free market economic principles. The Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum has been attempting to correct a number of what appear to be widespread myths from the secondary literature representing incorrect transcontinental railroad history, but unfortunately a few have crept into this recent article. Any corrections needed to these errata, and help in documenting the actual history with primary sources will be greatly appreciated.]

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Union Pacific Railroad Train Thefts, Los Angeles

"Thieves in LA are looting freight trains filled with packages from UPS, FedEx and Amazon" by Matt McFarland and Cheri Mossburg, © CNN, January 15, 2022. (News Article)

"Photos and videos showing piles of empty boxes littered alongside rail tracks in Los Angeles County, California have gone viral as shipping companies say they've seen a dramatic spike in railroad theft. Some of the boxes are packages from companies like UPS, Amazon and FedEx. Union Pacific ... says it may avoid operating in Los Angeles County following the spike in thefts, which it blames on lax prosecution of crimes. The containers and trains are locked, but can be broken into ... 160% year-over-year increase in theft in LA county. ... a December 2020 special directive issued by District Attorney George Gascón that changed how low-level offenses are prosecuted has contributed to the uptick. Union Pacific said ... that in the last three months of the year it made over 100 arrests of 'active criminals vandalizing our trains' ... arrested individuals are released from custody within 24 hours ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

"Like our customers, [Union Pacific] is now contemplating serious changes to our operating plans to avoid Los Angeles County."

Union Pacific Railroad Train Thefts, Los Angeles
Union Pacific Railroad Train Thefts, Los Angeles

Union Pacific Railroad Train Thefts, Los Angeles. ©Union Pacific 2022

"Criminals are caught and arrested, turned over to local authorities for booking, arraigned before the local courts, charges are reduced to a misdemeanor or petty offense, and the criminal is released after paying a nominal fine.These individuals are generally caught and released back onto the streets in less than twenty-four hours. Even with all the arrests made, the no-cash bail policy and extended timeframe for suspects to appear in court is causing re-victimization to UP by these same criminals. In fact, criminals boast to our officers that charges will be pled down to simple trespassing – which bears no serious consequence. Without any judicial deterrence or consequence, it is no surprise that over the past year UP has witnessed the significant increase in criminal rail theft described above."

[The Union Pacific Railroad is not affiliated with the Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum or]

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Muybridge railroad photos

From: "Heidi Sproat"

Dear RR gents:

I recently became aware of this Eadweard Muybridge Central Pacific Railroad image as [displayed] on the website:

Muybridge #738, tunnel 15
Muybridge Stereoview #738, Tunnel 15.  Courtesy, ©1999-2022.

I am the current Webmaster and online Image Collection facilitator for the 501(c)(3) non-profit historical society, Truckee-Donner Historical Society.

I have done an online search hoping to locate OTHER Muybridge images (most probably stereoviews) of the building of the Central Pacific Railroad and areas, specifically as it traveled between Cisco and Verdi, especially through Truckee and the Donner Lake, and Donner Pass areas.

I am writing an article on photography of the Transcontinental Railroad as it came through the Truckee and Donner Pass areas, specifically noting Alfred A. Hart images (available in public domain through Stanford Libraries), and any H. K. Gage railroad photos.

Muybridge #738, tunnel 15Sierra Summit Contour Map, by Samuel Montague and Lewis M. Clement.  Red railroad coloration added.
From Vose, Manual for Railroad Engineers, 1883.  Courtesy, ©1999-2022.

Do you have access - or can you refer me please - to other Muybridge images (or other photographers) of the transcontinental railroad building effort, trains, surrounding areas between Summit Valley and the Truckee River as evidenced on the Summit Contour map? (I looked online for this [Vose's] 1883 Manual supplementary Contour Map by Lewis M. Clement, but couldn't find a higher resolution image.) Thanks so much for reading through this.

—Heidi Sproat. Truckee-Donner Historical Society (TDHS), Webmaster, Image Collection

Thursday, January 13, 2022

"The Quest to Protect California’s Transcontinental Railroad Tunnels"

"The Quest to Protect California’s Transcontinental Railroad Tunnels" by Shoshi Parks, © Smithsonian Magazine, January 12, 2022. (Magazine Article)

"Built by Chinese immigrants in the 1860's, the caverns cutting through Donner Summit helped unite the country ... Thousands of men, nearly all of them immigrants from China, working 24 hours a day for 16 months, proved the seemingly impossible possible. Using hand drills, black powder and experimental nitroglycerin explosives, the workers penetrated the granite at a rate of a foot per day. When the most impressive tunnel of the bunch, Tunnel #6, was completed in November 1867 and finally opened to train traffic, it stretched the length of nearly five football fields across the mountain pass, the highest elevation tunnel in the world. ... One idea is to establish the Donner Summit tunnels as a National Historic Landmark (NHL), a designation that would protect them from new destructive activities and may provide some resources for planning and preservation without requiring Union Pacific to make any changes to the site ... But the archaeological work done ... last summer is just the beginning of a lengthy nomination process that will ultimately require approval from both the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior to go forward. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Sunday, January 09, 2022

'The Pacific Railroad Bill', Deseret News, April 28, 1869

The Deseret News, Volume 18, Number 12,
Salt Lake City, Wednesday, April 28, 1869.


The citizens of this territory have been aware for many months past, that a great rivalry has existed between the two companies who are building the Pacific Railroad, as to which should finish the longest stretch of road before the two lines meet, causing each company to make almost superhuman efforts to push the work under its direction forward with the utmost dispatch. As of the road near completion this feeling grew in intensity, especially when the grading parties of the two companies began to work side-by-side, and at one time there appeared to be a great probability of both companies running separate lines through the valley north of us from Ogden to the northern shores of the great Salt Lake. This feeling ultimately developed into charges and counter charges being presented before Congress, asserting that the lines were not being built according to the requirements of the law which granted government aid to the builders of the Pacific Railroad. The Union Pacific Company were charged with building an inferior road, with gambling with … Beyond the distance in advance of the completed mine allowed them by law. Charges of a like, if not entirely similar nature, or made against the Central Pacific Company, and Congress was called upon to decide the points at issue.

The most important item, however, in the dispute, the concern the people of this territory, was aware of the joint terminus of the two lines should be located. It was certain to be somewhere in the vicinity of the great Salt Lake, either at Ogden, the promontory, near monument point or even west of that. The Central Pacific had graded to Ogden, and were very anxious that their terminus should be there, as by that means they hoped to secure a large percentage of the Utah trade for California. The majority of those interested in the Union Pacific Road claimed that the termini of the lines should be wherever they met, and as their line has long passed Ogden, they would probably have had the common terminus somewhere on the northern shore of the lake.

Our readers will however see by the bill that we published in our issue of the 20th inst. that Congress has decided that the junction shall be "at or near Ogden," or, in the words of the bill, provided "that the common terminus of the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad shall be at or near Ogden, and the Union Pacific Railroad Company shall build and the Central Pacific Railroad Company shall pay for and on the railroad from the terminus aforesaid to a promontory summit, at which rails shall meet and form one continuous line." By which we understand that the Union Pacific Company will have to sell to the Central Pacific all the road that they have built north of Ogden as far as the summit of the promontory, and thereafter they will cease work; whilst the Central Pacific will continue to move eastward until they reach that same point where they will connect and form one continuous line, which line as far east as Ogden shall become the property of the latter company.

For ourselves we deem this legislation eminently wise, not only to quiet the difficulties that have existed between the two lines, but also for the credit of the government, and for the sake of economy. Ogden is certainly the best place for the terminus; its advantages are far greater than any point for many miles on either side of it, and we fully anticipate yet seeing it by far the most Prosperous of any of the cities that line the railroad track and its passage through the Rocky Mountains.

So far as regards the charges that have been brought against these companies, the 4th section of the same bill provides that the Attorney General of the United States, shall make a full investigation of the same; and he is empowered to institute all necessary and proper legal proceedings should he discover the same to be true either before a civil or criminal court, as the necessities of the case demand. Other sections of the bill provide for the appointment of a board of five eminent citizens of the United States to examine and report the condition of the two roads, and also to report the sum they consider it will take to make the rail road "first-class" through its entire length from the Missouri to East western terminus. The president is also authorized to withhold from either company such sums as will be required to make the road "first-class", until all the interests of the United States are secured and the road is declared fully completed from end to end, as required by law.

Courtesy of Stephen A. Goldman Historical Newspapers.

Pages 56-57

Pacific Railroad Bill

Pacific Railroad Bill

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875
Statutes at Large, 41st Congress, 2nd Session
Page 121-122 of 1314

Pacific Railroad Bill

Pacific Railroad Bill

Friday, December 31, 2021

CPRR Discussion Group

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Friday, December 24, 2021

Author query on transcontinental travel time

From: "John Lancaster"

Hello—ran across Kevin Bunker’s name on your website, and sent him this query. Copying to you for wider distribution. Thanks!

I am a former Washington Post reporter writing a book on the 1919 transcontinental air race, to be published next fall by Liveright/W.W. Norton. I am now at the fact-checking stage, and ran across your name and email on the CPRR discussion group page. I though you might be able to help me on an important point.

For context, the winner of the race, Lt. Belvin Maynard, completed his flight from Mineola, Long Island, to San Francisco, in a total elapsed time of three days and six hours (78 hours total). At the time, his journey was described as the fastest crossing of the continent by any means. This would of course include express trains. For comparative purposes, I would like to know roughly how long it took to travel the same route by the fastest trains in or around 1919. (The mileage would be roughly the same, since the contest route followed the path of the UP railroad, to ease the distribution of fuel and supplies to airfields. The railroad also served as a navigation aid that pilots called the iron compass.)

Even an estimate would be helpful. Though I can’t offer you fame and fortune, I would happily credit any contribution in my end notes. ...

John Lancaster

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

32-Foot-Long Train Made Entirely From Chocolate

"A Hotel Pastry Chef Made a 32-Foot-Long Train Entirely From Chocolate ... his creation was directly inspired by two steam locomotives ... the Central Pacific Railroad’s Jupiter and Virginia and Truckee Railroad’s No. 12 Genoa train." Bryan Hood, 'Robb Report'

Friday, November 26, 2021

CPRR ticket from El Paso to San Francisco, 1884

From: "Richard Webber"

Central Pacific Railroad ticket from El Paso, Texas to San Francisco, California from 1884.

CPRR ticket from El Paso to San Francisco, 1884
Courtesy of Richard Webber.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Longest rail line prior to 1869?

From: "Fredric London"

Prior to completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869, what was the longest rail line? ...

—Fredric M. London

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Recommended books about the first transcontinental railroad

Recommended books about the first transcontinental railroad:
  • Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad by David Haward Bain. (Best modern history of the construction of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads. Superb!)
  • Waiting for the Cars: Alfred A. Hart's Stereoscopic Views of the Central Pacific Railroad by Wendell Huffman, with anaglyphic conversions by Howard Goldbaum. (With gorgeous reproductions - a gem!)
  • The Railroad Photographs of Alfred A. Hart, Artist by Mead B. Kibbey, also available to read on this website. (Wonderful book about the CPRR stereographs!)
  • More online books and the CPRR Museum Bookstore.

Monday, September 06, 2021

USGS topographic map resource - geological atlas folios

USGS topographic map resource - geological atlas folios:

USGS links to all the folios

Here are three of the folios showing the route of the Central Pacific Railroad in California:

Sacramento folio, California, 1887-88
Folios of the Geologic Atlas 5
By: Waldemar Lindgren

Colfax folio, California, 1885-87
Folios of the Geologic Atlas 66
By: Waldemar Lindgren

Truckee folio, California, 1889
Folios of the Geologic Atlas 39
By: Waldemar Lindgren

Courtesy of Dennis Hogan, from the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society Internet Message List digest.

Truckee USGS folio, 1889
Truckee USGS folio, contour map, 1889, detail
showing the Central Pacific/Southern Pacific Railway Line
across the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Donner Lake.

Saturday, September 04, 2021

New biography about 19th century rail manufacturer

From: "Saundra Middleton"

I have enjoyed perusing your CPRR Museum website. You have included so much information and many links to investigate. What an awesome resource.

I have recently published a biography about Peter Kirk, a rail manufacturer who supplied rails to Central Pacific Railroad in the 1880’s. You have two pictures of Moss Bay rails displayed. This book titled The Pioneering Life of Peter Kirk — From Derbyshire to the Pacific Northwest will definitely add to the story of those rails, their production, Kirk’s 15 patented inventions that went into his rail products and machinery. It is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. I think it would be a good fit for your patrons’ list of resources about railroading during the 19th century.

I would also be interested in knowing of any other places where Moss Bay Steel rails are located, either in the ground or a museum, or if CPRR Museum is aware of any more records that list Moss Bay rails as being laid on their lines like in the 1887 US Report of the Pacific Railroad Commission. ...

—Saundra Middleton

Moss Bay Steel 1887 56 lbs
Moss Bay Steel Rail, 1887, 56 lbs

Pioneering Life of Peter Kirk
Pioneering Life of Peter Kirk

US 325,094 Kirk

US 326,874 Kirk

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Transcontinental Rail travel, 1911

From: "Heather Stivison"

I am a former museum director, now completing a grant-funded biography of the little-known female artist, Eloise Roorbach.

She traveled from New York City to San Francisco in August 1911.

I cannot find anything describing the likely routes, the probable duration of such a journey, or even the most basic description of what the experience would have been like.

She was supporting herself entirely through her magazine illustrations, so it is unlikely that she would have had the means to travel first class.

I have tried using The Official Guide of the Railways and Steam Navigation Lines of the United States, Porto Rico, Canada Mexico and Cuba [1910], also contacted the reference desk for the New York Public Library, to no avail.

I would be extremely grateful for ANY information or guidance you could give me. ...

—Heather Stivison, South Dartmouth, MA 02748

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Track worker housing, 1870's Central Pacific Railroad

From: "Michael Polk"

I am currently researching 1870's Central Pacfic Railroad track worker housing at section stations along the line in Utah (as well as Nevada and California). I know about and have a copy of the 1869 inventory of Central Pacific structures from the National Archives. That is useful, but that document only includes housing for foremen, not the Chinese and other track workers. I have found nothing regarding housing for them, only for 1880 onward.

Without such information, my fallback position is that they continued to use dugouts and ramshackle buildings from construction days as well as Section cars, perhaps set off on detached tracks. In 1880-81 Southern Pacific constructed a hundred or more new bunkhouses and some cookhouses for the workers, but I have no information about how they were housed between the end of railroad construction in 1869 and the end of the 1870's.

Does anyone have information about this 1870's decade or a lead for me on this subject? ...

Mike Polk, Aspen Ridge Consultants