Saturday, January 22, 2005

Re: SF&SJ loco questions

The initial choice of SF&SJ names is pretty predicatable and reflects a common pattern of naming engines for individuals supporting the enterprise. Nothing big here.

The second choice of names is curious, but the scattershot practice seems also used on the renamed California Central engines, so maybe there was a weird enui going on at the time. In contrast, the Sac Valley is very predictable and fits into established engine naming patterns.

Pacific and San Mateo are place names, one associated with the region and larger transcon concept, the other a specific community on the line. No big deal. Comanche is the wild card, being romantic, dangerous and non regional. A name like this usually would have some pertinant value, similar to the CC's Garibaldi, named for the then popular hero of Italian unification. Garibaldi was all over the news in 1859 and 60, and Comanche might draw from similar newsworthyness - the Indian Wars were getting hard and fierce in '64-'65.

Typically engines named on groups, whether in an order for new engines or during a renaming, tended to be named in similar, associative ways - series names. The UPRY-ED had a Comanche, also an Osage, Kaw and Piute, named according to the contractor's practice of naming engines for native Americans. The CC's original names Northerner, Southerner, etc., also reflect this, as do the CP's Atlantic and Pacific (destination oceans), Juno, Sultana and Diana (fabulous women), Rambler, Rover, Rusher, etc. The diversity of names on the CP reflects the requirements of a large roster, but it does adhere reasonably well to series names within the groups.

If the SF&SJ engines were renamed all at once, it would have been typical for them to gain new series names, but they dont, and the larger thematic concept of Pacific compared to the local San Mateo is then thrown completely off by Comanche. And why were they renamed anyway? It would be logical for the CP to do so, but for the SF&SJ to do this, and on engines named for individuals within its own firm, is curious. Did they drop out of the company structure, or was it politically advisable to lay low? This might indicate whether the engines were renamed at the same time, or at different times, which would theoretically be more consistant with the individualistic names.

I'd love to have dropped in on the discussion regarding naming an engine Comanche.