Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pollard's Station: Donner Lake's first resort by Gordon Richards

"Pollard's Station: Donner Lake's first resort" by Gordon Richards, president and research historian for the Truckee Donner Historical Society, © Sierra Sun, November 17, 2005. (News Article)

" ... Dr. Daniel Strong of Dutch Flat ... claimed 350 acres at the west end of Donner Lake with the completion of the wagon road in 1864, calling it Strong's Ranch. ... he leased his property to Joseph Delos Pollard ... By September 1864, Pollard was erecting a large building, part of which was being used as a hotel. ... Pollard's Station was a stage transfer point where travelers would change coaches, grab a quick meal, and roll on with fresh horses and a new driver. ... 1867 ... That summer the Central Pacific was constructing the tunnels on the summit, and the workers flocked to Donner Lake on their rare days off. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Monday, November 14, 2005

David Lemon Interview

The interview of David Lemon, the fireman of the UP locomotive at the golden spike ceremony at Promontory Summit, Utah on May 10, 1869 is now available online at the CPRR Museum, courtesy of Bob Spude, Historian, Cultural Resources Management, National Park Service.

"David Lemon – Old Timer: Fired Engine at Golden Spike Driving May 10, 1869." Union Pacific Magazine, May 1924, pages 5-6.

The Lemon iron spike:
"When the gold spike had been removed and replaced by an ordinary iron spike, I remarked to Superintendent Hoxie that some one would pull that spike, and that I'd like to have it. After some hesitation the superintendent said: 'You saved my life once, and also that of Engineer Oman Stimpson here. Let's go and get that spike for you.' "

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Recent webpage change not displayed immediately

Why do I sometimes not see the most recent post to the discussion group?

Why can't I see the picture that I was told was just added to a web page?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Question: American Progress by John Gast


American Progress by John Gast

What is the name of the book she's holding??

Patty Garvey
Social Studies
Ext. 60140

John Gast, American Progress, detail.  Courtesy Library of Congress
Detail of "School Book." Courtesy Library of Congress.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Book Chapter: David Hewes, An Autobiography, 1913.

Now online at the CPRR Museum:

"David Hewes: An Autobiography" Chapter from "Lieutenant Joshua Hewes: A New England Pioneer and Some of His Descendants ..." by Eben Putnam, 1913.

(with photographs of the recently rediscovered Hewes family gold "last spike")

Monday, November 07, 2005

The lost spike has been found!!!

From: "Walter Gray"

David Hewes (1822-1915), a prominent San Francisco land developer and brother-in-law of Leland Stanford, is the man who gave the Gold Spike that was used at Promontory, Utah, on May 10, 1869, to mark the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. The mold and casting of the spike(s) was done in 1869 by William T. Garratt, brass and bell founder of San Francisco, who then turned them over to Schulz, Fischer & Mohrig for finishing. The original Schulz et al invoice of May 4th, 1869, survives at Stanford University. It itemizes "Finishing 2 Gold Spikes, Engraving 381 letters at 4 Cts," and "1 Velvet Box." Most scholars have assumed that "Finishing 2 Gold Spikes" was the Gold Spike and the attached large surplus gold that filled the gate of the mold, known as the "sprue." Now we know that there were actually two Gold Spikes!

The first Gold Spike was engraved with 381 letters and the projected completion date of May 8th, 1869. E. P. Durant's UP train was delayed and the ceremony at Promontory did not occur until May 10th. The "sprue" was made afterwards into keepsake rings and small spikes and several of these still survive. Returned to the donor, the Gold Spike was presented to Stanford University in 1892 by David Hewes along with his considerable art collection.

The Stanford Gold Spike, or an inferior brass replica created for security reasons, have been displayed in the Stanford Art Museum for decades. CSRM has borrowed the original gold and Nevada silver spikes on many occasions since 1981, most recently for the September 9th-11th opening of the Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park.

The second Gold Spike was similarly engraved after the Promontory event. It bears subtle differences: the name "Central Pacific Railroad" in place of "The Pacific Railroad" and the actual completion date of May 10th, 1869. Five detailed photographs of this spike, with the sprue still attached, are on page 250 of a privately printed history of the Hewes Family edited by Eben Putnam and published in 1913. The Hewes Family and descendants have quietly held the second or "lost" Gold Spike for 136 years.

In April 2005, a brother and sister, fifth generation descendants of David Hewes, concluded to place the Hewes Family spike and other items on consignment with a Southern California dealer. CSRM began discussions, research and intense negotiations in May. This past week, Stephen Drew and Kyle Wyatt authenticated the spike on-site, consummated the purchase, and transported the Gold Spike to CSRM.

Kudos are due colleague Bill Withuhn, Curator of Transportation at the Smithsonian Institution, who alerted Museum Director Cathy Taylor that the spike was available. The purchase was made from the Museum's Opportunity Acquisition Fund managed by the Museum Foundation.

The spike and sprue measure 9-1/2 inches in length. The artifact weighs 444.5 grams which equates to 14.2 ounces. The spike is 17-6/10 carat gold, alloyed with copper.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Famous engineers

From: "Wendell Huffman"

I suppose every era had its most famous engineer. My "favorite" is George B. Jefferis who ran the first passenger train onto the train ferry Solano (1879) and the first train into the Oakland Pier (1882). What makes him really notable (in my mind) is that he managed to do all this with two wives, one in Oakland and one in Sacramento. Which apparently caused some problem, which he solved by killing the one in Sacramento and burning down the Brighton Jct. depot (where she was the station agent) to cover the crime. He managed to get out of the murder rap and bigamy charge on a technicality (well, by the time of the trial he only had the one wife) and even kept his good standing with the railroad company. In 1911 he drove Taft's special and retired as road foreman of engines in 1927. There is even the possibility that he came out of retirement to pilot the first train across the Benicia-Martenez bridge in 1930 (did he run "Huntington"?). He died in 1933.


Bascom Farrow, SP Engineman


Bascom Farrow is perhaps the best known Engineman of the Southern Pacific Railroad, thanks to a feature-length article on his retirement carried by Trains Magazine in October, 1948, and copiously illustrated by famed Disney photographer Ward Kimball. Bascom's last trip was from Los Angeles to Bakersfield, and return. His career stretched from 1900 to 1948.

My genealogist wife found that he was born in 1883 and died July 12, 1965, in Trinity, California.

Is anything else known about him? Hopefully someone got to him and recorded his memories.

—Abram Burnett

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Google, libraries post first batch of books online

"Google, libraries post first batch of books online" by Eric Auchard, ©Reuters, November 3, 2005. (News Article)

"Google Inc. and four U.S. libraries plan to unveil on Thursday the first collection of thousands of mostly 19th century American literary and historical works ... its library partners said they will put up their first large collection of public domain works. Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Michigan and the New York Public Library have contributed ... to the Google Print program." [More]

Additional books relating to the Central Pacific Railroad are now available through the Google Library Project. Click on the CPRR Museum's home page link for
"More books about the Central Pacific Railroad."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Additional CPRR Locomotive Rosters

From: "Wendell Huffman"

[Coming soon are] copies of Crocker's 1867 list of locomotives, the 1868 printed list, the 1887 list from the "Testimony of the United States Pacific Railway Commission," and Montague's 1864 engineer's report (which includes a list of locomotives).

Donald Duke did a typeset version of the 1868 roster, which appears in his "Southern Pacific Steam Locomotives" from Golden West Books (which is Duke's company). It is certainly more legible ... The latest address I have for him is P.O. Box 80250 San Marino, CA 91118-8250 ...

I found the 1887 roster of some use in my research, but it will perhaps be confusing to most people. It introduces "date rebuilt" information, which in some cases is indeed a date when a particular locomotive really was physically rebuilt (presumably the date it was released from the shop). However, in several cases the "date rebuilt" is actually the date that a listed locomotive replaced a previous – and completely distinct locomotive. For instance, the entry for the No.3 locomotive has a "date put in service" of Oct. 29, 1863 and a "date rebuilt" of Oct. 30, 1872. That "date put in service" represents the date the "C.P. Huntington" was invoiced by Danforth in New Jersey, while the "date rebuilt" represents the date a brand new 4-4-0 built by Rogers Locomotive Works was added to the roster. In no way that any of us would understand was the old "C.P. Huntington" rebuilt into the Rogers 4-4-0. Indeed, the "Huntington" was happily still puffing away down on the SP while what appears to be a "rebuilt" "Huntington" was working on the CP.

So, in the same document, the term "rebuilt" is used in two different ways. The best explanation for this odd-seeming practice is that calling a new locomotive a "rebuild" allowed its cost to be entered in operating rather than capital expenditures by the accounting department. This has led to much confusion, and for years brand new A.J. Stevens-built locomotive have been identified as rebuilts of various earlier locomotives. Indeed, it has made the task of counting and identifying Sacramento-built locomotives difficult if not impossible, simply because there is no way to draw a line between a rebuilt locomotive and a locomotive the company called a rebuilt locomotive.

Another compounding problem is simply that the company never used the modifier "second" or 'third" to indicate that a particular locomotive was the second or third to carry a particular number. It is like the locomotive number itself is the thing that really matters, and the machines that sequentially wore any particular number were themselves of secondary importance. I suppose that is how accountants may have seen it, and these rosters were most likely compiled by accountants in offices far away from the actual locomotives.

This 1887 roster also demonstrates how easy it is for mistakes to be entered into the record. When you get this, you will note that on the first two pages cylinder sizes are given in inches, while on the last pages they are given in "feet". Clearly the dimensions are still inches – the term only was mistakenly changed, perhaps by a typesetter. The mistake is easy enough to overlook. However, my point is, the mistake happened; and for all we know any of these rosters contain other mistakes that were no more difficult to make, yet are perhaps more difficult to weed out. This is why, while these wonderful original rosters exist, I continue to take the effort to compare every scrap of evidence I can find and work at compiling a more comprehensive roster. It takes about as much time as genealogy, though fortunately has only a finite number of units to consider.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

William Crocker House


By way of introducing myself, I am Barbara Smith, a life-long California history buff and founder of the docent program at historic Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, CA, where Charles Crocker is buried.

... one of your photos is mislabeled ... the glass plate image of what is labeled as Charles Crocker's San Francisco house. Actually, it is his son William's house built sometime after Charles Crocker's 1888 death, on the lot next to the Charles Crocker home. After both houses were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake/fire, William Crocker gave both lots to the Episcopal Diocese as the site of Grace Cathedral.

The property faces on California Street and is bounded by Jones, Sacramento, and Taylor Streets.

The following link will take you to a picture of Charles Crocker's house taken about 1878. Charles Crocker's house is the great dark pile at the upper left in the photo. The adjoining property which was to become the site of William's house is the upward-sloping lot behind Crocker's house – obviously a great deal of grading was done before William's house was built, as the entire property is quite level today. William Crocker apparently liked the iron fencing around his father's property, as he installed the identical fencing around his house.

A note of interest, in the photograph of the Charles Crocker house, you will note a high wooden barrier that appears to grow out of the white house located in the center of the photograph. Actually, that is the 40' high "Spite Fence" Charles Crocker built around three sides of the property of one Nicholas Yung, a German undertaker who refused to sell his property to Crocker. Mr. Young could then see out only through his front windows!

The white house next to Crocker's was built by the CPRR's David D. Colton, and after his death was owned by Collis P. Huntington – now the site of Huntington Park.

I enjoyed looking at your website.

Barbara Smith

Charles Crocker Mansion, Nob Hill, San Francisco
Lantern Slide. Black and white glass slide image of the house of Charles Crocker, one of the Big Four of Central Pacific Railroad fame. This palatial home on Nob Hill cost $2,300,000 and contained a fully equipped theater, library, and billiard room. An imposing seventy-six-foot tower offered Crocker an uninterrupted view of the entire Bay Area. The house has long since disappeared and Grace Cathedral now stands on this site in San Francisco, California. The handwritten inscription reads:
"No. 13375 Cal. San Francisco, Residence of Crocker Railway magnate."

Image and Caption courtesy John Fillmore.

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