Author Topic: A photo with history  (Read 1750 times)

Dag Bonnedal

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A photo with history
« on: March 01, 2021, 06:28:19 AM »

in January we got an e-mail from Brad Purinton running the blog Tokens of Companionship.
He had bought an old photo and done research on the history of it.
I am very impressed by the amount and accuracy of information he had manage to dig up without any knowledge in Swedish.

Fachinating that this photo turns up in the US, we have never seen it before. And thanks to internet we can all share it.
I sent him more information, but that was a bit too much for the blog. Maybe it is of more interest for this audience,
here are two of the mails I sent:

"Hi Brad,
I am responsible for the steam engines at ÖSlJ in Mariefred, and just got your mail forwarded to me.

A just fantastic find you got, we have not seen this photo before. Through my lifelong involvement in our museum railway, I also have a deep interest in the history of the seven little railways in Sweden that we represent and specially in the development of the locomotives on these. Of our ten steam engines, three are built by Motala, one of the smaller four coupled type, sister of Nos. 1 & 2 on NAEJ. Further we have the NAÄJ No. 4, K.M. Nelsson, younger sister of No. 3, Axel E. Lindvall and the twin of Nelsson from the second longest railway JGJ. The quality of these Motala products is way much better than the German built. We also have all four original passenger coaches from NAEJ, two in service and a large number of freight cars from the line.
I am most impressed by the text that you have presented with the photo. Good research and fully accurate. 

May I just add a few more details. The nickname Krösnabanan was also justified by the fact that at the time lingonberries was an important product transported in large quantities every fall. Much of it was exported to Germany (Preiselbeere). They are used as your cranberries but with a much crisper taste. But the version about the slow train makes a better story. From the neighboring Kosta Lessebo Järnväg (also 600 mm) the story was told that some young guys actually jumped off and pretended to help by pushing when the speed was low. They were spotted by the driver, he opened up full and left the guys behind.

The photo from Järnvägsmuseum with Lindvall in front is definitely taken in Motala when Lindvall inspected the loco at the delivery. As you say, Lindvall took both the initiative to and a deep personal interest in the railway.

When the first section of the railway, Nättraby – Alnaryd was built 1893-97, the contractor did not do a serious job. It was quite costly for the company to rectify it all and the formal opening was delayed two years. Thus, for the coming three extensions (the last one never finished) the company decided to do the job on their own. Lindvall led these works personally with the help of an assistant engineer and a foreman. As result these extensions were very economically built, claimed to be the cheapest railway per mile in Sweden.
Thus, it is not surprising to see Lindvall himself in midst of his works crew on the gravel car. But I think it says a lot about the man, a true entrepreneurial spirit, that did not need to show his status by the way he dressed or kept distance to his subordinates. 

The photo is taken in the gravel pit at Berg, south of Alnaryd. This was a substantial gravel pit owned by the railway and was used for ballast for the whole railway. Thus, running the heavy ballast trains from the south to the north part of the railway was big job that took many months and required the new heavy locomotive to get it done in time (over 20 miles and 450 ft in elevation). Otherwise, they would have avoided using the new fine loco on this job as the gravel dust increase the wear in the machinery and the unadjusted track also increases the wear on the loco. 

If you look closely at the gravel cars, you may see that they are ordinary flat cars fitted with provisional boards to keep the gravel in and tarpaulin flaps over the axle boxes to keep the gravel out. There are a few more photos known of the gravel trains. Here is one:
As seen from the lack foliage, this is another, colder season but the proud staff on the engine is the same.
Here is one more photo with the train in the pit. :
None of the photos match the quality of yours.
That was a few comments inspired by you find.

Best regards
Dag Bonnedal "

And the next mail:

You asked for the time. The engine was delivered to NAÄJ Dec. 5, 1909. Thus, the picture taken in Motala must have been late November (warm coat).
The extension was inspected by the railway inspector Dec. 3, 1909 and by then the whole line was terraced, but the track not laid. New inspection Oct. 13, 1910, then the whole line was built and ballasted. This gives you the time frame. As you noticed your picture is taken in the warmer season, May – Sept 1910.
Did a quick calculation of the effort to ballast the track. With the maximum load the new engine could handle on the grades it should have taken in the order of 500 trainloads to deliver 27 000 short tons of gravel from the pit in Berg to the new line! Even with two round trips per day (long days), 6 days per week, it would take ten months of continuous work to get it done. The winter of 1910 can’t have been too severe.
In the comments the smart dressing of the driver was mentioned. Up to WWI locomotive engineers were the “airline pilots” of their time. Relatively well paid; white shirt, bow tie and clean uniform was the order of the day. And yes, the footplate of a steam loco is a very dirty workplace (I know from my own experience). The driver’s wife had a tough job keeping his garments clean. And at our railway we try to live up to the traditions (but we do our laundry ourselves).
He inherited the family estate, Havgården in Nättraby:
I guess he had tenants to run the farm, but I am sure he kept a very watchful eye on them.
He was a politician in the Blekinge regional council.
He had his own steamship company, founded in 1884, running 5 steam launches (each with a capacity of 90-100 passengers). Most of all these ran between Nättraby and the town and naval base of Karlskrona.
He was CEO of Nättrabybanan all the time from his very first initiative until his death. He personally trained his successor Albert Karlsson, who has written down memories from his time at the railway. He testifies that Lindvall was a virtual powerhouse to work with. Lindvall regularly inspected the line and all stations, noticing every small ailing detail. To have “forgotten” something or not knowing the answer to questions from Lindvall was not taken easily. During these inspections he repeatedly called the office in Nättraby to inform himself and giving orders.

 The railway was very well managed, and Karlsson succeeded to keep it running through the hard times of the 30-ties. They rebuilt one of the small locos with two Ford V8 flathead gasoline engines to reduce operational costs. But they also invested in busses and trucks, and the traffic on the railway dwindled. Thus, in September 1939 the railway was closed for regular traffic. Rather bad timing considering the outbreak of the war, which almost completely cut off Sweden’s supply of gas, oil and most of all rubber (for ties). With the imminent threat of a German invasion and with the big naval base in Karlskrona, the Swedish navy and coastal defense had to build a lot of forts, artillery posts and pillboxes in the Blekinge archipelago. For this they needed vast amounts of concrete and for this gravel. The railway was contracted to continue running gravel trains from Berg to Nättraby through the whole war, and this saved No. 4, K.M. Nelsson from the scrappers torch.

We deeply regret that No 3, Lindvall was scrapped, it would probably have been an even better loco for our railway. "


Wayne Laepple

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Re: A photo with history
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2021, 04:06:39 PM »
Thanks for posting this, Dag. This is great stuff. Here at the WW&F, we also haul our ballast on flatcars with temporary sides that we remove where we want to unload ballast. There are many photos around of folks shoveling ballast off the cars and in between the rails and outside the rails.

John Kokas

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Re: A photo with history
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2021, 07:02:19 PM »
Looking at some of the pictures, all we have to do is switch the loco to an American design and you have a WW&F crew photo.  It would be hard to tell the difference.
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