Friday, March 31, 2006

Water troughs and locomotive scoops

Don said...

I had heard that to reduce the service time for the locomotives, water troughs were laid between the rails and scoops allowed the loading of water on the fly. Is this true, or just an old myth?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Grandfather, Hugh Alexander McKenzie, mail clerk for the US Railway Post Office

From: "Lorna Xixis" xixis@hawaii.rr.com

I am trying to research my grandfather, Hugh Alexander McKenzie, who worked as a mail clerk for the US Railway Post Office. I believe he lived in Lodi at the time, ca 1906 and was employed for several years. One route we know was Oakland to Grants Pass, Oregon. He also may have worked on a train that went over Donner Pass that connected with a mail boat somewhere, before 1911. In a photo of him in the door of the car, there is a car number '5167'. Part of the name is cut off, but what we can see is 'ates Mail', below that, 'ST Office'. ...

In addition, I have a great grandfather that worked as a dispatcher for a railway in Reading, Pa, then in Newton, KS in the late 1800s ...

—Lorna McKenzie Xixis

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Railroad Bond Repayment

From: "reno banker" renobanker@hotmail.com

I have heard both the Union Pacific and Central Pacific paid back the 30 government bonds issued for the building of the transcontinental railroad but cannot find verification or citation of this. Where can I find this information?

—Ron

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"Brownie Points"

The expression "Brownie points" in the American language and the railroaders' term "brownies" for demerits come from an august and enlightened railroad practice. Superintendent G. R. Brown (hence, the name) of the Fall Brook Railroad in New York State, beginning in 1886, developed an enlightened, instructive system of discipline, involving positive and negative points. (The Fall Brook RR later was absorbed into the New York Central.) Interestingly, Brown wrote that accidents and "close shaves"(i.e, close calls) both impart safety information. He did not suspend men for accidents and rules infractions, as was then the railroad disciplinary policy. According to the severity of the event, he gave demerits. Merits were awarded for good service. Hence, the "Brown System" had positive and negative Brownie points. Brown used bulletins as a means of instruction regarding what was learned from acts, sometimes called blunders, earning negative points. An annual bonus to conductors with a perfect record was sometimes part of the Brown System.

The best book on Brown is by a Browne (K. J. Norman). Browne's The Brown and Other Systems of Railway Discipline, London, Railway Gazette, 1923, is a classic. At a meeting in 1897 of the American Association of Railroad Superintendents, "Brown's Discipline" was discussed with appreciation (Railroad Gazette 29, 1897:690-691).

—Fred Gamst

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

Question: Real Estate Property including the Old Grade

From: "Erich Wolmart" wellington@thecrexent.com, Lifeuvalue@aol.com

I need to know what happens when the old railroad track goes through a piece of property that you are buying.

—Erich Wolmart

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Frontal Lobe Injury due to a Railroad Construction Blasting Accident

"The iron entered there and passed through my head! ... His mind is radically changed so decidedly that his friends said he was no longer Gage!"

The dangers of 19th century railroad construction using black powder to blast rock are illustrated by one of the most famous cases in neurology and psychiatry:

"One of the most famous brain injuries on record is the fascinating case of the 'crowbar incident,' which occurred in [Vermont, where his group was preparing the bed for the Rutland and Burlington Rail Road] on September 13, 1848. A 24-year-old railroad worker, Phineas P. Gage, was caught in a powerful explosion during a construction accident. A steel rod, [a 13.5 lb., 3 foot 7 inch long and 1.5 inch thick tamping iron] ... became airborne and pierced the skull of Phineas Gage. The iron entered the top of his head, passed through the brain and exited through the lower portion of the left cheek, leaving a gaping hole. Gage never lost consciousness and spoke with his co-workers several minutes after the event. He was taken to a hotel where he walked unassisted up stairs. 'He bore his sufferings with firmness,' Dr. J. M. Harlow, the treating physician, later wrote, 'and directed my attention to the hole in his cheek, saying, ‘the iron entered there and passed through my head!'

Gage survived. But his personality had undergone a dramatic change. Whereas before he was the capable and efficient foreman on the job, Phineas Gage became sloppy, careless and argumentative. 'The equilibrium or balance between his intellectual faculties and his animal propensities seemed to have been destroyed,' said the doctor. Gage was later dismissed from his job and became somewhat of a reclusive figure. 'His mind is radically changed,' wrote Dr. Harlow, 'so decidedly that his friends said he was no longer Gage!' But because of his fantastic injury, Gage became famous. He even appeared in P.T. Barnum’s American Museum in New York City. His skull and the iron bar that pierced it are on display at Harvard University."

All about Criminal Motivation, by Mark Gado

Also see:

Phineas Gage from Wikipedia:
"Gage was fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity (which was not previously his custom), manifesting but little deference for his fellows, impatient of restraint or advice when it conflicts with his desires, at times pertinaciously obstinate, yet capricious and vacillating, devising many plans of future operations, which are no sooner arranged than they are abandoned in turn for others appearing more feasible. A child in his intellectual capacity and manifestations, he has the animal passions of a strong man. Previous to his injury, although untrained in the schools, he possessed a well-balanced mind, and was looked upon by those who knew him as a shrewd, smart businessman, very energetic and persistent in executing all his plans of operation. In this regard his mind was radically changed, so decidedly that his friends and acquaintances said he was 'no longer Gage.' "
—Harlow, J.M. (1848). "Passage of an iron rod through the head." Boston Medical and Surgical Journal 39: 389-393.

The Strange Tale of Phineas Gage by Joanna Schaffhause

About Phineas Gage

"No Longer Gage:" A Glimpse into Sociability, Temperament and the Brain, by Julia Johnson

Appraise old railroad photo's

I am located in California and looking for someone qualified to appraise some old railroad photo's I own. If you can give me a name or telephone number that would be great.

—Danette

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Abbreviations – California Railroad Museums

From: kylewyatt@aol.com Re: California Railroad Museums

... I'll provide some translations.

CSRMCalifornia State Railroad Museum – in Sacramento [ ... home of the R&LHS archival collection]

GGRMGolden Gate Railroad Museum – until recently located at Hunters Point, a former Naval Shipyard in San Francisco. Most of the collection moved to the Niles Canyon Railway (see below) for storage. Other pieces sold or traded.

NCRyNiles Canyon Railway – operated by the Pacific Locomotive Association (PLA) – Niles Canyon (in the Bay Area east of Oakland) is on the route of the original transcontinental railroad line connecting San Francisco (via a ferry ride to Oakland) with Sacramento and on east to Promontory – site of the golden spike ceremony of Central Pacific and Union Pacific in May 1869.

RRSFeather River Rail Society, operators of the Western Pacific Museum in Portola. Provided motive power and (UP) crews for the move of equipment from Golden Gate Railroad Museum to Niles Canyon Railway. Some GGRM equipment also moved to Portola. ... —Kyle Wyatt

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

Friday, March 24, 2006

Mexican Central Railroad

From: "Chris Graves" caliron@cwnet.com

I am hoping that someone in the blog may know who engineered the "Mexican Central Railroad," as I have a lengthy handwritten (in English) document entitled Mexican Central Railroad, Instructions for the Guidance of Surveys and Locations, 1882.

Subtitled in this document are:
Distance; Rise and Fall; Curvature; Radius of Curvature; Compensation for Curvature; Gradients; Momentum Grades; Maps; Profiles; Topography; Projecting Location.

The final page is noted: Aff; Palmer, scribe

Should anyone be able to shed some light on this document, it would be appreciated.

—G J Chris Graves, Newcastle, Cal.



Another Mexican Railroad

CPRR Hauling Bricks to Nevada

From: kylewyatt@aol.com

In addition to the article on the Argenta water system, Jim [D'Angelo] brought up the source of bricks (in particular firebricks) used in Nevada. He observed that early bricks came from California. By the 1870s he was finding firebricks from England – specifically R. Brown & Son, Paisley – a type made in Scotland between 1867 and 1902. He had assumed that they were shipped in over the transcontinental railroad from the east. I made the following observations, suggesting the English bricks might have been landed in San Francisco (or similar California grain ports), and shipped to Nevada from there. Here's what I said.

On bricks from England vs shipped from the US east, there is another wrinkle. In the 19th century there was a huge wheat traffic between California and England. The California grain to England was the primary haul, aboard sailing ships. On the back haul (England to California), the ships frequently came in ballast – cheap shipping for heavy materials. I know cobble stones and coal were shipped to California this way. Bricks seem another likely cargo. That would put English bricks in San Francisco at low shipping cost. And I suspect Central Pacific would much prefer to ship from California to Nevada rather than Ogden to Nevada – CP could keep all the price of shipping, and would set their freight rates accordingly.

—Kyle

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Re: Photographs of snow

From: "Kyle Wyatt" kwyatt@parks.ca.gov

There are several ... CP bucker snowplow and snow photos from the 1860s ... by A. A. Hart, some of which were published by Houseworth instead of Hart. Here are relevant Houseworth images ... and one relevant Hart-published photo ...

—Kyle

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum
111 "I" Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 324-7660

Houseworth 1251. WINTER VIEW IN CISCO – altitude 5,911 feet
Houseworth 1251. WINTER VIEW IN CISCO – altitude 5,911 feet

Houseworth 1253. LOCOMOTIVES IN THE SNOW – at Cisco.
Houseworth 1253. LOCOMOTIVES IN THE SNOW – at Cisco.

Houseworth 1255. CISCO IN WINTER – altitude 5,911 feet
Houseworth 1255. CISCO IN WINTER – altitude 5,911 feet

Houseworth 1263. Snow Plow of the Central Pacific Railroad Co. Near Cisco.
Houseworth 1263. Snow Plow of the Central Pacific Railroad Co. Near Cisco.

Hart 164. Emigrant Gap, Snow Plow and turn Table – SP Collection
Hart 164.  Emigrant Gap, Snow Plow and turn Table – SP Collection

Photographs of snow or workers working

Why do there seem to be so few photographs of snow or showing railroad workers at work?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Current Railroad News

From: "Wendell Huffman" wwhuffma@clan.lib.nv.us

... railroadnews.net is a good source for railroad news.

—Wendell

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

Monday, March 20, 2006

Lucin Cutoff Causeway

From: JBurn83468@aol.com

Can you tell me if the causeway across the Great Salt Lake is still traverseable by automobile?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Historical Research on Transcontinental Railroad trip in the late 1890's

From: Maphillinn@aol.com

I'm writing a novel that includes a trip on the transcontinental railroad (from San Francisco to Cheyenne) in the late 1890s, and I need as detailed information as I can get on what the trip would have been like in terms of the train itself and the sights. I've found your site quite helpful; however, the articles you have on travel pertain to the 1860s to early 1880s. Any suggestions on further sources of information? ...  

Ray Schultze

Author Interview: "Passage to Union: How the Railroads Transformed American Life, 1829-1929" by Sarah Gordon

Passage to Union: How the Railroads Transformed American Life, 1829-1929 by Sarah Gordon about the "the effect train travel had on the rural economy and the lives of ordinary citizens."

The 1997 C-SPAN Booknotes interview is being replayed on cable television on Saturday, March 25 at 6:00 PM.

Alert courtesy of Bruce C. Cooper.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Central Pacfic land plat in Nevada county, California

From: "Ian Garfinkel" igcman@yahoo.com

I have been hunting for information on a 160 acre parcel that I purchased in 2005. It was part of a RR Grant, and not sold of until 1946.

The land was part of Patent # 5 in Nevada county California.

The location is:

Section 3 Township 16North Range7 East MDBL.

I have been trying to prove the existence of the road that runs through this property.

This road may show up on the Rail Road land Plat Map.

I have spent a great deal of time researching this property and I have correspondence from SP land Co. regarding a power plant and The Excelsior ditch that you may be interested in.

If you can help in any way please reply.

—Ian Garfinkel

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

CPRR Water Works at Argenta, Nevada

From: "D'Angelo, James" JDAngelo@TRCSOLUTIONS.com

You might be interested in my 1993 article in the Nevada Archaeologist, Vol 11, entitled, "Railroad Waterworks at Argenta, Nevada." The type of waterworks I excavated and documented is probably not entirely unique, but is a type I have not seen discussed elsewhere. When the RR was extended beyond Argenta, Argenta was moved, buildings and all, back five miles to the Reese River Station (thereafter, Battle Mountain) in 1870. However, Argenta remained as a siding for some time after that, and the water source is mentioned in a 1903 surveyors field notes.

James J. D'Angelo, Ph.D., RPA
Senior Archaeologist
TRC Garrow Associates, Inc.
3772 Pleasantdale Rd 200
Atlanta, GA 30340

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sixteen Wheel Sleeping Cars

From: Pete McCue

... The current issue of Trains Magazine (April 2006) has a poster on page 65 for Pullman Dining Cars. At the bottom of the poster is an ad for "Pullman Sixteen-Wheel Drawing Room Sleeping Cars." This purports to be from a poster of about 1877 vintage. Lower on the page is a cut-away drawing of an 1895 Dining Car.

What wheel configuration would be used on a sixteen wheel car? ...

—Pete McCue

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Articles about Summit Tunnel

Articles about Summit Tunnel From: KyleWyatt@aol.com

The article Jack White sent prompts me to wonder about other articles describing the work on Summit Tunnel (Tunnel 6), and the others in the area – including Tunnel 8. I've been wondering if there might be articles about construction in this area with workers (Chinese) lowered over cliffs on ropes ("in baskets").

Also I'm interested in articles about the construction of Summit Tunnel itself. For one thing, can we confirm that a group of Cornish miners was brought over from Virginia City and tested against the Chinese – and lost?

Also, what about articles telling of the avalanche that swept away a construction camp?

Finally, after re-reading some of the discussions about how many Chinese died, I remain firmly of the conclusion that we simply don't have enough information to make any kind of reasonably conclusive (or even valid) statement about the subject. I do strongly believe that to get a clearer picture we need to look in depth at some comparative examples, and to differentiate causes of death.

We need to see what we can find about other examples of 1860s railroad construction deaths – Union Pacific; Union Pacific-Eastern Division (a separate company later called Kansas Pacific); several roads buiilding across Iowa to Council Bluffs; and finally the Civil War and its various causes of death (notably including non-warfare related deaths - there are some good statistics on that).

I believe the lack of Central Pacific payroll sheets for 1868-69 means we cannot in fact make any truly conclusive statement about the number of Chinese employed in that period. (Low counts in December 1867 mean little, since I'd expect winter in the mountains to be a low employment period after the end of the tunnel work (which they could protect from the weather). We know from testamony that there were a number of Chinese still working on the railroad, and they clearly had crews near Promontory from which to draw their crew of eight to lay the last rail. We also know from testamony that they employeed a number of Indians across Nevada. And Leslie's 1876-77 excursion recorded Indians still employeed by the railroad in Nevada in track work - as well as Chinese.

My personal opinion (barring evidence to the contrary) is that Chinese on the Central Pacific were treated no worse than White works on the CPRR – and all of them were rather better off than the White workers on the UPRR. I suspect the UP "Hell on Wheels" towns were much harder on the workers than the CPRR camps under tea-totaling Strobridge.

On diseases, smallpox and the like were not new diseases to the Chinese, so I would expect their death rates to be nominally comparable to Whites. As a cross-check, there must be articles and information about smallpox outbreaks in towns where information about death rates can be gathered – for Chinese and for Whites. As to few coming out of the pest cars alive – I'm wondering how many normally survive the pest houses in other locations – Chinese or White. I think conditions in such places were pretty grim, and the survival rate pretty low, regardless of ethnicity.

In reviewing what has been written, I found a lot of sound and fury, and gnashing of teeth (as it were), but very little evidence with a solid foundation. I believe the newspapers simply didn't report anywhere near all deaths – White or Chinese. So counting up those listed in the newspapers really tells very little. Counting up only those specifically listed probably severely undercounts the deaths. On the other hand, taking those same individual newspaper counts and then indiscriminantly adding in the 1200 estimate from the 1870 "train of bones" is like randomly throwing in a huge dose of "Finagle's constant" (that is arbitrarily adding in that amount which, when added to what you have, gives you what you want). Finally, all these death estimates mean next to nothing until they are compared to what the norm of the times was for deaths in similar construction. Life was hard and harsh for all working people, whether Chinese, Irish, English or any other ethnis group.

Just some thoughts.

—Kyle

Dow's Dictionary of Railway Quotations

From: "ANDREW DOW" andrewdow@btinternet.com

On 24 March [2006] the Johns Hopkins University Press will publish "Dow's Dictionary of Railway Quotations." ...

The book has been over eight years in the making, and the assistance of some members of RLHS has been sought and generously given. It contains nearly 3,500 quotations, from 1610 to 2004, and from about 1,400 people who have said or written memorable things about railroads in America, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and many other countries. For easy reference, the text is divided by subject headings, of which there are nearly 800. ...

—Andrew Dow

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]


Editorial Reviews from Amazon.com

"How we ever managed to understand the depth and breadth of railways before this book came along I'll never know. I recommend it to all who love railways – and even those who don't." —Sir William McAlpine, Bt.

"An enduring tribute to the railway authors of the past and to the men who so gallantly operated the trains." —John H. White, Jr., former curator of transportation, National Museum of American History, author of The American Railroad Passenger Car, The American Railroad Freight Car, and American Locomotives

Book Description

Dow's Dictionary of Railway Quotations is an authoritative compendium of quotations about railways from 1608 to the present day. More than 3,400 entries are drawn from over 1,300 writers and speakers and a wide range of original sources both British and American – Acts of Parliament, poetry, songs, journals, advertisements, obituaries, novels, histories, plays, films, office memoranda, speeches, newspapers, television and radio broadcasts, and private documents and conversations.

Here Andrew Dow records remarkable, memorable words – from the well-known to the abstruse, from the commonplace to the vital. The selected quotations are arranged by subject matter and searchable by speaker, subject, and keyword.

Dow's Dictionary will inform and captivate railway enthusiasts along with readers interested in railway architecture, engineering, geography, and history.

About the Author

Andrew Dow was born into a railway family, in Hitchin, England, where his parents worked at the wartime headquarters of the London & North Eastern Railway. He spent thirty years in the aviation industry before being appointed Head of the National Railway Museum in York in 1992. He is the author of Norfolk & Western Coal Cars (TLC, 1998) and Telling the Passenger Where to Get Off (Capital Transport, 2005). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, President of the Stephenson Locomotive Society, and vice chairman of the Gresley Society.

Nov 7, 1867 Alta Article

From: KyleWyatt@aol.com
Cc: jwengine@hotmail.com (john white)

John White recently sent me an article from (I believe) the Cincinnati Journal of Commerce of December 10, 1867. It claims to quote an article from the Alta of November 7 which gave a description of the Central Pacific work completed to date, including a discussion of the Summit tunnel and other tunnels in the area. If someone has easy access to the Alta, I'd like to confirm the date of the article in that paper.

The Cincinnati paper misleadingly titled the article "The California Pacific Railroad." It estimates completion to a junction with the Union Pacific in a year and a half – at Fort Bridger (the CP folks could wish it had gone that way).

Jack also sent another, shorter article from the Cincinnati Journal of Commerce dated November 6, 1867, which quotes an undated issue of the Grass Valley Union. In addition to the Summit Tunnels, this article discusses the track laying from Coburn's Station (Truckee), with reportedly already 9 miles of track laid and an engine (one) and construction train at work. This article estimates that the Coburn's Station section will not be connected to the line through the Summit Tunnel until July 1868 because of snow, with eventual completion to the UP connection in 1870.

He also sent another article from the Cincinnati Journal of Commerce of September 8, 1870 about a Chinese crew of 70 hired on a year-long contract to work in a large laundry in Belleville, New Jersey, north of Newark. Part of an attempt to introduce Chinese labor into the Eastern and Southern US.

—Kyle

Cincinnati Commercial 12-10-1867, possibly from the Alta California 11-10-1867
(Wendell suspects this is the article datelined Nov. 7, but printed in the Alta Nov 10, 1867.)
newspaper

The Cincinnati article is in fact a reprint of the Alta Californian article from Nov. 10, 1867. They left off the last part of the article, which I attach here from the Alta Californian.
newspaper

Cincinnati Commercial 11-6-1867, from the Grass Valley Union
newspaper

Cincinnati Commercial, 9-8-1870
(The New Jersey Chinese.)
newspaper

Courtesy of John White and Kyle Wyatt.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Panama Rail Road and Pacific Mail Steamship Company images

From: bonjade@goldrush.com

I am very impressed with your website, if not overwhelmed!!

I am looking for an image of the Panama Rail Road or from the Pacific Mail Steamship Company which ran between Panama and San Francisco. ...

Thank you for a wonderful website of historic information and images.

—Bonnie Miller, Calaveras County Historical Society

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Model of a train ferry

From: "Robert Schmidt" roberts@breadner.com

I am currently constructing a model train layout and ... want to contruct a model of a train ferry. I will not be modeling the Solano itself but a fictional ferry that fits my layout and is similar in design to the Solano.

—Robert Schmidt

"EVERY WORKING AMERICAN SHOULD BE AN AUTOMATIC MILLIONAIRE"

We welcome your comments about our blurb "EVERY WORKING AMERICAN SHOULD BE AN AUTOMATIC MILLIONAIRE" about the actual causes of wealth and poverty in America. Do you agree or disagree? Do you have any insights that you would be willing to contribute to the discussion of this controversial subject? We think that the easily fixed Social Security and Pension mess that government malfeasance has created is literally a matter of economic survival, and are concerned that so many people are afraid of the simple solution (actually saving so that you will be able to afford your own retirement expenses or help your family) which will avert an impending and otherwise unavoidable financial catastrophe if government continues to immediately spend every last cent of the money that people think that they are saving. Have we drawn the correct lessons from history? Click on "POST A COMMENT" (First click on "COMMENTS" if you are on an index page) to add your thoughts.

"THE CENTRAL PACIFIC RAILROAD'S LESSON FOR TODAY'S HEALTH CARE CRISIS"

We welcome your comments about our blurb "THE CENTRAL PACIFIC RAILROAD'S LESSON FOR TODAY'S HEALTH CARE CRISIS." Do you agree or disagree? Do you have any insights that you would be willing to contribute to the discussion of this controversial subject? We think that the easily fixed health insurance mess that government intervention has created is literally a matter of life and death. It is of great concern that as a result of misdiagnosing the problem, many people believe that more government intervention will help, not understanding that more of the same will only make healthcare worse. We are sure that HillaryCare or any of the various misguided calls for more government amount to nothing more than a slippery slope leading to a lethal single payor system with all the efficiency of FEMA and all the compassion of the IRS. Have we drawn the correct lessons from history? Click on "POST A COMMENT" (First click on "COMMENTS" if you are on an index page) to add your thoughts.

"IT'S GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME"

We welcome your comments about our blurb "IT'S GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME" concerning the rapid improvement in the environment, economy, longevity, and standard of living over the decades since the transcontinental railroad was built. Do you agree or disagree? Do you have any insights that you would be willing to contribute to the discussion of this controversial subject? We think that doom and gloom illustrated by murder and mayhem that passes for the "evening news" is utterly misleading. Have we drawn the correct lessons from history? Click on "POST A COMMENT" (First click on "COMMENTS" if you are on an index page) to add your thoughts.

Time Magazine Cover predicting Global Cooling, December 3, 1973.
Time Magazine Cover predicting Global Cooling, December 3, 1973.

Sacramento to hear ambitious railyard plan

"City to hear ambitious railyard plan" by Mary Lynne Vellinga, © Sacramento Bee, March 9, 2006. (News Article)

"The developers of downtown Sacramento's 240-acre railyard today will submit a new plan to the city that includes high-rise housing along the river, a 1,000-seat live theater and a new sports arena anchoring an entertainment district. ... it would ... take at least 15 years to build out ... The plan also has 10,000 housing units, including high-rise towers of up to 40 stories, 3 million square feet of office space and 1.3 million square feet of retail. Picturesque but dilapidated old railroad shops would become a museum of railroad technology and a public market similar to San Francisco's Ferry Building. ... The railyard is considered one of the nation's most significant downtown "infill" sites. Just north of downtown, it is about the same size as the existing central business district. But the site has proved difficult to develop, in part because of its lack of streets and other infrastructure, and because it was so soaked with toxic leftovers from the rail industry that it was labeled a Superfund site. ... "People think there are issues with the railroad and there are not," ... "It just takes time, and we want to do it right. This is probably the most complicated land deal in the country." ... One issue that needs to be solved before development can occur is how to come up with $20 million for moving the train tracks several hundred feet to the north – a move that UP says will improve railroad operations. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Bruce C. Cooper.]

Monday, March 06, 2006

OLD WOOD SPCo. depot at SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO

From: TWINCOACH@aol.com

Looking for information (history) of now gone SPCo. wood station house at South San Francisco. It was located in the parking lot north of the new depot. Back in the 1960's there was still a CPRR vintage cast iron crane (hand crank) on the old wood platform.

—CHARLIE HOPKINS

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Chinese RR workers - Opium Use? - Wives?

From: belferj@earthlink.net

I would like to know if there is any information regarding the use of Opium by the Chinese Rail Road workers.

I also believe that the men were not allowed to bring their wives or any other females. Is there any information as to the female Chinese during the railroad building?

I do not mean to be insulting anyone, I am just curious if there has been any research in these two areas.

—Judith Belfer

Back To The Future

From: "Ron Bentley" lrv2@optusnet.com.au

I am looking to build a model railway layout of the fictional Hill Valley circa 1955. According to the Back To The Future 3 movie, the town was serviced by the Central Pacific Railway in 1885.

I live in Australia and have little access to information about the railway line. Please advise – is the Central Pacific Railway still in existence? Did it exist in 1955, if not, what rail service operated in Northern California in 1955?

—Ron A. Bentley

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Central Railroad of New Jersey

From: N Kent Loudon

My 1968 reprint of an 1868 Travellers Railway Guide, shows through "Palace Sleeping Cars" operating via CNJ between New York (Elizabeth), Pittsburgh and Chicago. In fact, this was the fastest route between New York and Chicago at the time, as close as I can tell, 48 hours and 20 minutes! ...


From: Joel Rosenbaum
Subject: Allentown route discontinuance

... The Allentown route to Chicago ended on June 30, 1873.

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

Friday, March 03, 2006

Rail Road Stereoview - Editorial Party Pine Bluffs PRR

From: "F Sherfy" sherfy@sherfy.cnc.net

I thought you might like to see this stereoview ... I imagine it is one of the series you have on your site, but it is not labeled with a manufacturer or photographer name. Quite some time ago, someone wrote on the back that it is Number 496 and gave it the title of Editorial Party Pine Bluffs PRR.

—Fred Sherfy, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Editorial Party Pine Bluffs.

Beckwith Survey Question

From: "Jerry Lohry" xplornevada@yahoo.com

I have a question ... about the Gunnison-Beckwith survey. The map they compiled shows that the survey team went into the northern end of the Black Rock Desert (Mud Lakes) as far as High Rock Canyon. Their portrayal of the topography of that area also leads me to believe they traveled there. But Beckwith's journal only documents their surveying the southern part of the Black Rock Desert.

Do you know whether all or part of their crew journeyed into the High Rock Canyon area, and where I can find documentation on this?

—Jerome Lohry

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Railway Operating Battalions

From: "Arnim Gerstenmeier" gerst@mondicsinsurance.com

A friend of mine is researching her dad's WW II career. He was employed by the Southern Pacific RR and served with the 715th Railway Operating Battalion in North Africa and Italy. Was the Southern Pacific a sponsor of that unit also?

Where do you suggest we look for information? After the war, he returned to the Southern Pacific and worked for that line (California) until his death.

—Gerst

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Railroads controlled by the Associates

From: Anonymous

By November 8, 1868, how many railroads, and how many miles of rail did the Associates control? I ask, as by Nov. 8, 1868, the CPRR had 397 miles of rail laid, and 163 locomotives. They would have had a locomotive in park, along the grade, every 2.43 miles.

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