Friday, July 15, 2005

Divisions, Crew & Engine Districts on the CPRR


"Nelson's Pictorial Guide Book - The Central Pacific Railroad," publ. 1871 and reproduced on the Central Pacific RR website, indicates that the operating Divisions were set up as follows:  

Ogden to Toano, 182 miles  

Toano to Winnemucca, 237 miles  

Winnemucca to Truckee, 205 miles  

Truckee to Sacramento, 114 miles  

Sacramento to Oakland, 112 miles  

The Humboldt and the Truckee Divisions look rather long to be single "crew districts" and "engine districts."  The Humboldt Division would split nicely at Elko (93 miles on the east end, and 144 miles on the west end.)  But I can't figure where the Truckee Division would have been split, for crew and engine purposes.  

Has anyone thought about this and come up with an answer?  

Also, I'm wondering where the Humboldt, Truckee and Western Divisions were dispatched from (i.e. where their administrative headquarters and train dispatching offices were located.)  Ideas?  Of course, if anyone knows the telegraph calls, that would be icing on the cake !  

... and the next question (logically) is, When were the various Divisions combined?  And the answer to that is probably wrapped up with the development of motive power and the increase in train speeds.

—Abram Burnett


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "John Snyder"

> ... where the Truckee Division would have been split, for crew and engine purposes.

How about Mill City, which I seem to recall was a major engine facility until the advent of Sparks?

John Snyder

7/16/2005 3:42 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


Sorry, but Mill City was never an engine terminal. In 1880 era's it had a long siding with a crossover to serve the cattle corral, a depot and that was about all. There was nothing but water tanks to serve engines between Wadsworth and Winnemucca. Later the facilities were moved from Winnemucca to Imlay. The last time was by Imlay there was almost nothing to denote it was once an important locomotive facility.

Lynn Farrar

7/16/2005 12:43 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


The Humboldt and Shoshone Divisions were very short lived, disappearing in the 1870's. However, reading the biographies of early CP employes it leaves no doubt that there was no 16 hour law as some runs were not completed before 24 hours!! Carlin was a "Division Point" from the very beginning and was the location of a superintendent, resident engineer and master mechanic as well as one of only three locations that had an employes library, the other two being Terrace and Tulare. ...

Lynn Farrar

7/16/2005 12:46 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

I believe Imlay became an engine terminal as part of the Harriman upgrades that also moved the shops from Wadsworth to Sparks. When we removed the combination car body from Imlay to Carson City in 1991, there was no railroad shops evidence except some obvious former SP structures (houses and the like). I don't even recall a siding on the mainline.

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum
111 "I" Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

My work address is:
My personal address is:

7/16/2005 4:40 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "John Bergman"

Thanks for the information on the Libraries. I had wondered for some time about that information. F.Y.I. the Tulare S.P. Co. Library building still exists as one of the oldest structures in Tulare and definitely the oldest R.R. building in the city. There are still a few R.R. employee houses that exist as well as the REA structures which is still in use by the U.P. as a central location for housing building and signal supplies and parts. The library has remained much unchanged in its exterior with some minor modifications to the interior. It is presently used by the Women's clubs in Tulare and is in pretty good shape for being just under 120 years old.

John Bergman

7/17/2005 8:32 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...



A June 29, 1909 article in The Silver State (Winnemucca) indicated that these divisions corresponded to the early passenger crew runs. Here is the wording:

"The Union and Central Pacific railroads were connected and a through train service was inaugurated on May 10, 1868 [of course, the year should be 1869. Also, I don't know if through service was actually inaugurated on that date]. At that time, Winnemucca was a passenger division point, the runs being from Truckee, California, to Winnemucca, to Wells, to Ogden, with Wadsworth, Carlin and Terrace as intervening freight divisions. In about the year 1884, the passenger division was moved to Carlin and Winnemucca was made a freight division."

The article did not mention that Wells had replaced Toano in late 1876 (or
maybe early 1877) as both a crew and engine change point and a division point:

November 4, 1876 Evening Express (Los Angeles) (p.2) - Toano will be abandoned. Shops there to be taken to Wells, which will be the terminal of the Humboldt division. Toano no longer is a division end.

While the Silver State article did not specifically state such, I suspect that freight crews and freight engine crews also changed at Winemmucca and Wells (otherwise, a Wadsworth-Carlin freight run, for example, would be excessively long). Also, even though Winnemucca was no longer a passenger division point after around 1884, engines of passenger trains continued to be changed at Winnemucca. Wadsworth, Carlin before 1884 and Terrace may also have been engine change points for passenger trains. It was pretty commen in those days for engine crews to have shorter districts than either passenger crews or freight crews.
> ... when were the various divisions combined? 

According to John Signor on page 31 of "Donner Pass," the Humboldt Division was absorbed into the Truckee Division on June 15, 1885. I have not come across newspaper articles of the time to verify this date, but it is probably correct (or close).

On April 1, 1888, the Humboldt Division was reestablished. From the Tulare Daily Register (Tulare, Calif.) of March 22, 1888:

"The following circular has been sent out by Superintendent Fillmore, which will be of interest to some of our readers:

"On and after April 1, 1888, the Los Angeles and Ventura divisions will be segregated in their management from that of the Yuma division and branches, and will be operated from a division office to be established at Mojave, Cal.

"On and after the same date the Salt Lake division will extend only from Ogden to Wells and the Truckee division will extend only from Truckee to Winnemucca. A new division will be established embracing the line from Winnemucca to Wells, to be known as the Humboldt division, the headquarters of which will be at Carlin, Nev."

I'll have more in a future installment.

John Sweetser

7/17/2005 5:23 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Subject: Early CP operating divisions

I wish I had all the earlly timetables but in 1976 I copied all that I could find in our PR department in SF. The next endeavour was to find as many station books as I could. I had my troops looking everywhere we could think and found most in the PR department. The earliest station book was No. 3, March 1, 1879. We made copies of it but by the time I gathered them up for CSRM circa 1995 this #3 had gone to someone who I hope will pass it on. In a timetable headed

Central Pacific Railroad
of California

Principal Offices,

Sacramento, Cal.,
54 William Street


Through Time Table,
May 17, 1869.
(Sacramento to Wadsworth)
(Wadsworth to Winnemucca)
(Winnemucca to Carlin)
(Carlin to Toano)
(Toano to Ogden)

Three trains are indicated each way, an Expr's. An Acc'm and a Mixed. Miles for each station is shown with the express time shown for each station and the other two at Division points but also at Colfax.

My copy is readable but not the best to reproduce. It was negative X213 in the PR collection and it is possible UP has that negative but I hear that they charge an arm and a leg for copies of documents.

Lynn Farrar

7/17/2005 7:58 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Four of the links currently included on the CPRR Museum home page's list of online timetables, rail guides, etc. are early (1869-1870) timetables:

Central Pacific Railroad Schedule with Timetable and Route Map, 1869.

Central Pacific Railroad Timetable & Map, May, 1869.

Union Pacific Railroad Timetable & Map, 1869.

Great Overland Route via Central Pacific, Western Pacific, and ... Union Pacific Railroad, Timetable, May, 1870.

7/17/2005 8:26 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


... the division superintendents were as follows:

Sacramento division – E. C. Fellows, who was a high ranking operating officer up to and maybe through the end of the 1890's
Truckee division – F. W. Bowen, of whom I know absolutely nothing
Shoshone & Humboldt divisions - C. E. Gillett - a member of the engineering corps during construction
Salt Lake division – James Campbell, who erected the locomotive Stanford on the levee at Sacramento

The accommodation passenger train also stopped at Cisco and Truckee. Meals were taken at Junction, now Roseville, Cisco, Wadsworth and Elko. The Salt Lake division ended at Terminous, now Promontory, not Ogden, until the CP purchased the Ogden-Promontory segment from the UP.

I am particularly pleased with your many exhibits of early CP records. I was able to give CSRM a couple of truckloads of the old records the Research Team located between 1966 and 1977. Sadly, the bulk of the remaining records were destroyed after my retirement. The staff at CSRM is most accommodating and anyone lucky enough to be able to get there for more than just one day can find a lot of interesting information.

—Lynn Farrar

7/18/2005 2:11 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


[John Sweetser's note asks] about when through passenger service began at Promontory, 1869. According to an undated newsclip in the railroad scrap books at the Bancroft Library, a traveler from Delaware rode the CP to the end of the line, at Promontory, arriving May 9, 1869. Since there were no places to stay in Promontory, the passengers decided not to stay for the May 10 ceremony. They walked the short distance from the CP terminus track to awaiting cars on the parrallel UP track and left for the East. Obviously, this was not a scheduled train, but they were the first through passengers (that didn't take a stage coach between the ends).

Accounts on May 10, especially Lt. Currier's diary, talk about passengers moving from one railroad's cars to the other, but, again, this was not a scheduled train, though the UP issued a through train schedule May 10, 1869 (copy at Denver Public Library).

W. L. Humason was on a UP train that arrived May 11 and transferred to the CP, after vexations and delays. (Humason, From the Atlantic Surf to the Golden Gate, 1869). First, "through" passengers on a scheduled train? Possibly.

UP chief engineer Grenville Dodge in his reminiscence states that the engineers had the line on scheduled runs a day or two after May 10. So, by May 12, 1869, scheduled trains ran across the transcontinental. But as George France Train said, there was "no union between the Union Pacific and Central Pacific – although the rails had been laid end to end.".


Bob Spude – Historian – Cultural Resources Management – National Park
Service – Intermountain Region – 505.988.6770 Voice – 505.988.6876 Fax

The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.

7/18/2005 3:42 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Subject: Early CP operating division

> ... the division superintendents were as follows: Sacramento division – E. C. Fellows, who was a high ranking operating officer up to and maybe through the end of the 1890's.

Here are excerpts from an article in the July 21, 1880 Daily Evening Post (San Francisco) titled "Death of a Prominent Railroad Man" :

"After a comparatively short illness, Colonel Edward Charles Fellows, Assistant General Superintendent of the Central Pacific Railroad, died yesterday afternoon at his residence, No. 940 Myrtle street, Oakland. Three weeks ago he went to Arizona, and it is believed that the extreme heat of the place, together with too free use of cold water, contributed to his ill-health, he being a large man, weighing over 260 pounds ... The deceased was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1833, and was consequently forty-seven years of age at the time of his death ... He came to this coast in 1868 as Superintendent of the Sacramento division of the Central Pacific Railroad, and subsequently took charge of the Western Pacific branch, and remained in charge of that and the local railroad in Oakland. When John Corning died he was promoted to the position of Assistant General Superintendent of the Central Pacific Railroad, and held that position until his death. His title of Colonel was gained in New York, where he commanded a regiment of the National Guard of that state. A host of sorrowing friends mourn his demise, as he was sincerely liked by all who knew him."

E.C. Fellows was also superintendent of the Visalia and Tulare divisions starting in the 1870s.

John Sweetser

7/19/2005 4:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Central Pacific came to what was to become Imlay in 1869. Imlay became a division point on the Southern Pacific, after the completion of the Lucin Cutoff across the Great Salt Lake about 1905. The Railroad built a large Depot, a roundhouse to service the locomotives, power house, and a machine shop. [See Imlay, Nevada Central Pacific Railroad depot photo]"

Courtesy of Google Alerts.

5/10/2013 8:51 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Recent Messages