Early Steam Shovel on SP/CP
I have been coming across information on what seems to be a steam shovel acquired by the CP about 1872. It shows up in two SP documents of that time.
On May 29, 1872 Gray wrote to Hopkins of a “steam excavator” in use in cutting through a sand hill at a place later named Sand Cut on the SP line between Gilroy and Pajaro (Watsonville Junction). In Gray’s words: “The steam excavator is doing its work satisfactorily; it meets our expectations…. If you intend to use the excavator on the CPRR you will need a supply of dumps [dump cars] and why not have some made to meet our coming demand.”
This piece of equipment remained in used into the next year. On February 17, 1873 Assistant Superintendent AC Bassett recorded in his journal: “steam excavator through cut at Sand Cut and hauled off.” This is the last mention of it in the journal. I assume the unit was returned to the Central Pacific.
I can find no mention of this unit in the 1875 CP rolling stock rosters. Nor does it appear on any of the SP lists for this period. ...