Author Topic: Narrow Gauge Theory of the 1870s and '80s  (Read 545 times)

Bill Reidy

  • Museum Member
  • Dispatcher
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,136
  • Life member. Ack.
    • View Profile
Narrow Gauge Theory of the 1870s and '80s
« on: July 30, 2021, 06:28:08 PM »
In 2018, we published an excellent booklet history written by Jason Lamontagne on the development of the Wiscasset & Quebec and the Maine two-footers, in the context of Narrow Gauge Theory which was actively promoted in the 1870s and '80s.

Recently, while compiling historic newspaper articles for the Cape Cod Chapter, NRHS, I ran across the following from the 19 August 1871 issue of the Yarmouth Register.  I think it echoes the history Jason shared in his booklet.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Narrow Gauge Railroads.

   Railroads are a necessity of our modern civilization.  The people of our newly settled regions, however endowed by nature, live in a state of semi-barbarianism, until steam enables then to send their superfluous products to market.  In the more populous and richer portions of the country, sections and places not favored with railway facilities languish and die.  This is observed at the present moment throughout New England.  It is noticeable in our own immediate vicinity.  With but slender resources at the command of the people of the Cape, our railroad has at all events fostered business and checked emigration.  And towns like Falmouth, Chatham and Provincetown, plainly suffer from inconvenience, delay and loss, in the want of steam facilities for communication and the transaction of business.  In one point of view, the existence of railroads is a comparative injury to those communities which are outside of their direct influence.  There population falls off and industry receives a positive check.
   And yet, the high cost of railroads renders it not easy to obviate this difficulty.  The portion of New England which at this time need railroads are the poorest and least able to meet the expense of their construction.  In these very portions, the cost of building will be greatest, as in the hill-country of Massachusetts.  Thus it happens that the extension of the Cape Cod Railroad to Provincetown from Wellfleet must overcome greater natural obstacles than any previously encountered, whilst the town of Truro is, of all the places traversed by that line, the least able to supply necessary funds.  Whatever tends, therefore, to reduce the expense of building adequate railroads, so far solves the problem of railway supply to such forlorn and destitute communities.  Now it may fairly be claimed that in the reduction of the gauges of railroads to be built for their benefit, lies the remedy in this direction.  The narrow gauge railway costs very much less than the broad gauge railway.  Wherever the funds are wanting to build an expensive line, and the business anticipated is not large or highly profitable, the narrow gauge road will meet the exigency.  High and competent authority declares—“the gauge should be not only narrow, but the narrowest which will combine convenience of transport for various kinds of goods and passengers, with reasonable speed, and will economy and safety in working.”
   Formerly, the balance of opinion among railway engineers was decidedly in favor of a wider gauge than four feet eight and one half inches, mainly on the ground that this gauge did not allow sufficient width for the working parts of the locomotive.  Subsequent experience has, however, modified this opinion and it is now generally admitted that an engine, suitable for ordinary traffic, may be put upon a much smaller gauge than four feet eight and one half inches.  That is the existing gauge in Massachusetts.  Roads elsewhere have been built upon a broader gauge.  It is safe to assume that no more will be so constructed.  The Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, after an experience of fourteen years, has just reduced its gauge.  It is the object of this article to show that in many localities it will be much cheaper and equally as effective, to say the least, to employ a much narrower gauge.
   At the last session of the Massachusetts Legislature, a special committee appointed to consider this subject, submitted, through its chairman, Mr. George A. Parker, of Lancaster, known as a competent and experienced engineer, an elaborate and exhaustive report, from which the facts here stated are extracted.  It will be observed that theorizing has very little to do with the matter.  Results, not speculation, are the foundation of the conclusions arrived at.
   “Six years ago,” says the report, “there existed in the mountains of Wales, a little tram road, a few miles in length, extending from the slate quarries in the Festiniog Valley to Port Madoc on Cardigan Bay.  Its gauge was one foot eleven and a half inches.  It has curves of 182 feet radius and grades of 70 feet rise to the mile.”  Steam power was applied to this line.  The rail used weighed 30 pounds to the yard and the engines weighed seven tons.  The passenger cars were 10 feet long and 5 feet wide, capable of carrying 12 passengers.  The merchandize could carry 3 tons net.  To-day, trains pass over this road at a speed of from 15 to 20 miles an hour, with as much safety as upon any in England, and at a cost of running much below that of roads of the ordinary gauge.  In one year its freight amounted to 136,123 tons, averaging 9.388 tons per mile of road.  The tonnage of the Cape Cod Railroad for the ten months ending September 30, 1870, is reported, for 64.81 miles of road, at 46,333, or less than 1,000 tons per mile of road per annum.  The passenger business of the Festiniog road amounted in the same year to 6,807 passengers per mile; that of the Cape Cod road by the returns last mentioned, amounted to about 3,600 per mile.  Doing, therefore, nine times as much freight and nearly twice as much passenger business as the Cape Cod Railroad in a much more difficult country, why would not this little Festiniog line have served our purpose as well as our own?  Of course the Cape Cod Railroad is uot invidiously selected here, but merely for more convenient and intelligent illustration.
   “Another railway, 8 miles long, has since been constructed in Wales, of 2 feet 6 inch gauge.  It has a nearly uniform grade of about 70 feet rise to the mile.  Two light engines have sufficed, to work the traffic of this road for more than five years, with three passenger as well as freight trains, running each way daily.  Each engine carries 3 passenger cars, with 70 to 90 passengers, and 20 slate cars.”
   In Prussia is another diminutive line with a gauge of 2 feet 7 inches and planes of 70 feet rise to the mile.  The weight of rails varies between 22 and 26 lbs. to the yard.  The sleepers upon which the rails rest, are 4 feet 2 inches long, placed 2 feet apart.  The engines weigh 12 1-2 tons and haul 36 cars, each loaded with 5 tons.  The cost of the locomotives was about $4,500 and that of the cars $500.  The cost of the line per mile, including rolling stock, has been about $8,000.  The total cost of the Cape Cod road and its equipment, is stated in the last annual report to the State, to have been $1,454,779, or about $22,381 per mile of its 65 miles or less.  And this line is admitted to have been economically constructed.  The gross receipts for transportation of merchandize upon the Prussian road have been, upon the average, about 2 cents per ton per mile.  The rate per ton per mile on the Cape Cod railroad for 1870, is stated by the Railway Commissioners to have been 3.53 cents.  And the average rate of nine Massachusetts railroads is stated by the same authority at 5.62 cents.  Does not this fact indicate that the introduction of narrow gauge railways would sensibly lighten the cost of railway transportation?  The cost per mile run on the Prussian road is stated at about 60 cents.  At the same rate, the cost of operating the Cape Cod Railroad for the 114,150 miles run by its trains during ten months ending Sept. 30, 1870, would have been $68,490; it was, in fact, according to its return, $150,912, or much more than twice that sum.  And yet it is notorious that the Cape Cod Railroad is managed closely and economically.  It is possible some injustice may be done by such comparisons; but no man can consider this subject without seeing that the economical balance inclines, markedly, to the narrow gauge road.
   In Norway, the Thondgham Railway has been constructed upon a gauge of 3 foot 6 inches, as a compromise between the Festiniog gauge of 1 foot 11 1-2 inches, and the ordinary one of 4 foot 8 1-2 inches.  The engines are of about 12 tons weight.  This road is regarded as a perfect success.
   The Unaio Valenciana Railway in South America is 15 miles long, has grades of 169 feet rise to the mile, a forty pound rail, and its engines weigh 10 to 15 tons.  Its passenger cars carry 30 passengers each comfortably and safely at a speed of 30 miles an hour upon a gauge of 3 feet 6 inches.
   In the mining districts of Pennsylvania, roads have recently been constructed of 2 foot 6 inches gauge, where engines of less than 8 tons weight, make speed of 20 miles an hour over grades and curves which, a few years ago, would have been deemed utterly impracticable.
   In Colorado, is about to be commenced the Denver and Rio Grande Railway, destined to extend from Denver City, along the Rocky Mountain plateau, to El Paso, a distance of 850 miles, with a gauge of 2 feet 9 inches, at an estimated cost per mile of $8,000.
   In Canada, 400 miles of 3 feet 6 inches gauge railway are projected, about 150 of which were, at last accounts, under contract, about 15 miles being in operation.
   In Australia, 250 miles are built and 250 need more projected.
   Other roads have been or are being built upon this gauge in Russie, Norway and Queensland.
   June 27th, 1870, the British Secretary of State for India, appointed a committee of engineers and railway experts of high ability, to report upon the feasibility of a narrow gauge for 10,000 miles of railway, building and projected in India.  Three out of four members of the committee agreed upon a report, after personal inspection of some of the narrow gauge lines to which allusion has been made.
   They declare that lines on the gauge of 3 feet 6 inches “are worked with as much convenience to the traffic as on any broader gauge,” and that “a speed of 36 miles an hour may be attained on them, with complete steadiness both of engines and vehicle.”
   Their conclusion is, that for “roads of moderate business,” “the gauge need not exceed 2 feet 9 inches, having satisfied themselves that engines of sufficient power may be put upon this gauge to draw at a sufficient speed the largest traffic which such lines are likely to carry, and that vehicles may be used on this gauge which will afford complete accommodation for all classes of passenger and goods traffic.”  They recommend a rail 36 lbs. to the yard or even lighter, with sleepers 5 feet 6 inches long, 8 inches by 4 inches square, placed 3 feet apart from centre to centre.  The width of road bed at formation level, they think need not exceed 9 feet 6 inches in embankment and a corresponding width in cuttings.  They advise engines of 12 tons weight.
   Concluding, the committee declares its belief “in the entire efficiency of a 2 feet 9 inches railway, where the business is of moderate character (that of India) being convinced that the only possible doubt of the efficiency of such a road has regard to its ability to carry an extremely heavy traffic, or large trains at high speed.”  Mr. Green, engineer of the Denver and Rio Grande Railway is quoted as saying he “cannot too strongly advocate the use of the narrow gauge, because of its efficiency, and because the first cost per mile will not exceed one half of that of a broad gauge.”
   Mr. Parker, in his report to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, goes on to estimate in detail the cost per mile of a road 25 miles long, of 2 feet 9 inches gauge, the dimensions, etc., deduced from a surveyed line, “and the equipment conformed as nearly as practicable to the recommendations of the India Committee and of practical builders in this country, the prices being actually guaranteed by the latter,”—viz.: $13,757—and estimates “cost of same road with similar grades and alignment with a gauge of 4 feet 8 1-2 inches, with the usual provision for rolling stock,” at $23,974, or nearly twice as much.  Doubtless, for a line of easy grade and work, like that of the Cape Cod Railroad, both these estimates would be much reduced.
   But these figures and facts do not express the state of the case.  The narrow gauge permits the use of curves entirely impracticable for roads of common gauge, “the minima of the two gauges being practically as one to three, the radii being, say 220 feet and 660 feet respectively, and it considerably increases the grade maximum as well.”  “The difference is in the ratio of nearly 1 to 2.6 in favor of the narrow gauge.”
   “In following the devious course of a river valley, with the narrow gauge it would be almost always possible to adopt planes nearly parallel to the stream, and to go round re-entrant projections which would have to be cut through, at whatever cost, if the common gauge were used.  Where a difficult country is to be traversed, and where rapid descents and rocky projections are the rule, as they almost always are in the hill country of Massachusetts, where railroads are especially needed now, it may be affirmed in the light of our knowledge and experience, that branch railways, with the narrow gauge, may be built and equipped for one third of what they would cost with the common gauge; and in the level district, for one half.”  Will not some of these observations apply to the “hill country” of Truro, to be traversed by the Cape Cod railroad, on its way to Provincetown?  Again it is urged—a broad gauge road of small traffic carries twice as much dead or unpaying freight as a narrow gauge road would.  “Friction is almost directly as the weight is applied.”  An eight-wheeled car of the broad gauge weighs nearly 10 tons, and carries a burden of 10 tons, while a four-wheeled car of the narrow gauge, weighs 3 tons and carries a burden of 6 tons, the difference being about one-half in favor of the latter.  “The actual ratio of unpaying to paying loads on the Festiniog road is 1 to 4, while that of roads of 4 feet 8 1-2 inches is as about 1 to 1.”  Mr. Robert Fairlie, a celebrated engineer, is quoted as saying, “We send a gallon measure to carry a pint.”
   Once more, it is said that there is nearly an equal difference in favor of the narrow gauge road in respect to wear and tear, and in respect to the power of the locomotive.  Messrs. Baird & Co., of Philadelphia, celebrated locomotive builders, saying, “more useful effect is derived from the fuel burned in small boilers.”  “In this connection,” Mr. Parker remarks, “there may be some force in the comparison of the pony with the horse—the smaller animal will pull more in proportion to his weight than the larger.”  Thus the conclusion in the report is arrived at, that “the cost of hauling a ton of goods over a narrow gauge railroad may be safely reckoned at less than one-half the cost of hauling the same goods over a road of common gauge.”
   There is one difficulty involved—break of gauge.  Rolling stock cannot be interchanged in the case of connecting lines, and of branch with trunk roads.  As far as passengers are concerned, this amounts to nothing.  We daily, on our way to Boston, see passengers changing cars at Yarmouth, Tremont and Middleboro’, as well as upon the cars themselves in motion when one bound for a different destination has been accidently selected at the Boston station.
   The only difficulty, then, is in the trans-shipment of freight.  In the case of light freight, like fish, the cost and loss of time for this purpose would be very inconsiderable.  In point of fact, however, it is suggested that, this difficulty may be readily overcome.  “At the meeting of two roads of different gauges, side tracks can be brought parallel with each other under a simple gallows-frame crane, which, by a single movement, not necessarily occupying more than two minutes of time, may transfer two car bodies, each sixteen feet long, from the narrow gauge trucks to a platform car, thirty-two feet long of the common gauge.  Two bodies carrying five tons each will be only a full load for one strong platform car of the ordinary dimensions, and they and their contents may be transported over the trunk road upon such a car with every usual guaranty of safety and despatch.  Obviated by these simple methods, the difficulty of break of gauge at junctions of branch with trunk roads becomes really of very little moment.”
   The Committee making the report from which we have drawn so large extracts, also reported to the House of Representatives a bill “to authorize the construction of Narrow Gauge Railroads.”  The report and bill laid sometime upon the table, and were then referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, which, after careful consideration, reported the bill back in a new draft.  Carefully scrutinized in the House itself in the interest of existing railroads and cautious conservatism and in some points amended, it finally passed that body by a large vote, but was lost in the Senate, as is conceived, for want of consideration, and jealousy of a “general railroad law.”  It provides that any number of persons not less than ten, might associate themselves together by articles to form a corporation for the purpose of constructing a railway with a gauge of three feet, provided, that at a legal meeting of the voters of any town through which such railroad is proposed to be built, two-thirds of the voters present and voting by ballot, shall approve of its construction through that town.  The capital stock shall be not less than $8,000 for each mile of road.  Upon the petition of the association, accompanied by a survey and map of the proposed route, the County Commissioners are to be called upon to adjudge that public convenience and necessity require the construction of the road, and, in that case, to approve its location, in which case the articles of association are to be filed in the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, who shall issue his certificate of the establishment of the Corporation in accordance with the facts.  Any railroad corporation may construct such a narrow gauge railroad as a branch of its main line, upon a similar approval by towns and the County Commissioners.
   It is not to be doubted that the collective wisdom of the Legislature will speedily enact a measure so simple and so effectual as a relief to the communities unprovided with railroad facilities in this Commonwealth.  If the numerous facts cited are credible (or any considerable portion of them) the narrow gauge road will at one-half or one-third the first cost of construction and half the cost of operating, furnish, promptly and with much less delay, all needed transportation for passengers and freight to communities in which money is an object and traffic light, which yet must be speedily posted in the race of business competition.
   The writer of this article makes no claim whatever to the character of an expert in railroad engineering or management.  But, having the interest, prosperity and free intercommunication of the people of this section much at heart, he brings this subject to their more immediate attention, in reference to the admitted exigency for extension of the railroad.  The prejudices of railroad engineers and managers are to some extent undoubtedly fixed against a change of gauge.  Doubtless those familiar with the subject can construct arguments in favor of the present gauge.  But, unless the facts presented can be denied, unprofessional persons of average common sense, will be apt to believe that the narrow gauge railway is, in a large class of cases, the practical solution of difficulties.  To bring the question home at once, if our facts as to the Festiniog and other railroads are true, would not a narrow gauge railway have done for Barnstable County all that the Cape Cod Railroad has done, at probably not less than half the expense?  And if at half the expense, then without sinking the original capital and rendering from the first to the stockholders at least as good and probably much higher dividends than the present railway yields after great discouragement, years of delay and a material reduction of the par value of the stock.  Its present net income is only obtained by exceptionally careful and economical management—because its business is light.  Extravagance for a single year would materially and sensibly reduce its profits.  If then, the narrow gauge railway could have done this business at half the outlay of capital, every point of the Cape would have long since received those facilities which Falmouth, Chatham, a part of Barnstable, Truro and Provincetown still pine for.  If this position is correct, the profit of a narrow gauge railway with a small construction account and small comparative cost of running trains, would, with equally good management, long ago have placed such a line in the very highest state of efficiency as to condition, equipment and frequency of trains.  Still more valuable result—it would have been completed twenty years ago, and would have kept with us the talent, industry and energy which are now enriching other communities, from New York to San Francisco.  Of course, no reflection upon anybody is or can be intended in this strain of observation.  Twenty years ago, ten years ago, the proposition of the efficiency of a narrow gauge railway would have been scouted at.
   Can the new gauge then, in conclusion, be made useful for the completion of our small railway system?  An extension is earnestly desired and needed, from Monument to Wood’s Hole, from Wellfleet to Provincetown.  The only question in both cases is that of provision of the necessary funds.  The writer of this certainly believes that either extension will be found self-supporting and that the communities in question and the railway company should each run some risk and would find ample reward in so doing.  But time is more than money in this case.  Every year is reducing the population of Cape Cod, and nothing but increased transportation facilities, at a cheap rate will check the material decline which is going on, it is earnestly to be hoped that the Railway Company and the people of Provincetown will speedily come to some mutually satisfactory conclusion.  If not, it is respectfully suggested to the inhabitants of that enterprising and, on the whole, prosperous town that they would be singularly blind in their own interests, should they not see that the construction of a narrow gauge railway would meet all their exigencies—at all events for years and years to come—and that it is entirely within their own resources, without any aid whatever from the Corporation.  By the terms of the bill to which we have referred, the narrow gauge railway is permitted to enter upon the grounds of a trunk railway for interchange of traffic, and the transfer of freight is to be made at the joint expense of both.  If this general bill does not become a law, special charters will unquestionably be granted.
   But, finally, if it is upon the whole thought advisable to build the Wood’s Hole and Provincetown extensions in continuation of the present gauge (and perhaps it may, in the long run, be more satisfactory) is there not room elsewhere to try the experiment of the narrow gauge—as, for instance, to connect Chatham with the Cape Cod Railroad at Harwich?  It is to be hoped this suggestion may be considered.  The cost of building such a piece of road would, we may apprehend, be much less than the $8,000 per mile, which the narrow gauge railway has not exceeded in the most difficult country.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The 1871 Cape context is railroad extensions were wanted from today's Buzzards Bay to Woods Hole, Wellfleet to Provincetown, and a branch from Harwich to Chatham.  Largely due to land development, the Woods Hole branch would quickly be financed and opened the next year.  Financing for the Provincetown extension was more difficult, as the small communities of Truro and Provincetown had to largely provide the funds, but that extension did open in 1873.

The Chatham story is more interesting.  From the time of this article, it would take another 16 years before the railroad reached that town.  Following the failure of the Billerica and Bedford in 1878, there was considerable discussion of purchasing the B&B equipment and opening a two-foot gauge branch to Chatham, but before the agitators of that plan could act, George Mansfield had convinced the backers of the new Sandy River Railroad to build their railroad to two-foot gauge, using the B&B equipment.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2021, 06:29:47 PM by Bill Reidy »
What–me worry?

Jeff Schumaker

  • Museum Member
  • Dispatcher
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,139
    • View Profile
Re: Narrow Gauge Theory of the 1870s and '80s
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2021, 09:31:17 AM »
That is a nice find in your research, Bill.

Jeff S.
Hey Rocky, watch me pull a moose trout out of my hat.

Stephen Piwowarski

  • Museum Member
  • Engineer
  • ****
  • Posts: 707
    • View Profile
Re: Narrow Gauge Theory of the 1870s and '80s
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2021, 11:40:52 AM »
Wow, this is an absolutely fantastic resource Bill. Thanks for sharing. Do you know the author?

Bill Reidy

  • Museum Member
  • Dispatcher
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,136
  • Life member. Ack.
    • View Profile
Re: Narrow Gauge Theory of the 1870s and '80s
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2021, 01:35:12 PM »
No author was listed for the 1871 article.
What–me worry?

John L Dobson

  • Museum Member
  • Hostler
  • ***
  • Posts: 210
    • View Profile
Re: Narrow Gauge Theory of the 1870s and '80s
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2021, 03:39:45 PM »
Bill

The Ffestiniog Railway is planning to mark 150 years since the 1870 Locomotive Trials at Porthmadog in 2022 (postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic) with a re-run, as far as can be managed, of the original trials. This will feature the England 0-4-0STT Welsh Pony, which was actually involved in the 1870 trials, in competition with the new double Fairlie James Spooner (which should be in traffic by then) substituting for the pioneer Fairlie Little Wonder, which was the 'opposition' to Welsh Pony in 1870 but was scrapped in the early 1880s. I don't, at present, know if, or how many, delegate from overseas are to be invited, but we certainly intend to make the most of the publicity that should ensue.

As part of the celebrations, I'm hoping to publish contemporary (1870s) reports on the trials, to illustrate the influence that the FR had on railway construction in rough country and the subsequent Narrow Gauge Movement. This will be particularly fitting as the north Wales slate districts and their associated railways (the FR and Talyllyn) have just, in the past few days  been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Is there any reason why I shouldn't republish the piece from the Yarmouth Register, as part of the celebrations?
John L Dobson
Editor, FR Magazine

Bill Reidy

  • Museum Member
  • Dispatcher
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,136
  • Life member. Ack.
    • View Profile
Re: Narrow Gauge Theory of the 1870s and '80s
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2021, 03:55:40 PM »
Hi John,

I see no reason you can't reprint the Yarmouth Register article.  I will be reprinting it for the Cape Cod Chapter, National Railway Historical Society in August.  For their monthly publication, I reprint articles from 175, 150 and 125 years ago, tracking the development of the railroad on the Cape.

If you are interested, you can find the article directly at this link:  http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/APA/Sturgis/default.aspx#panel=home
Click on the Browse button, choose title "Yarmouth Register," and then scroll the year back to 1871 and click on the month August.  This article was the first on page 2 of the 19 August issue.

Best wishes on the celebrations next year.  I wish I could attend, but I look forward to reading about it in the Ffestiniog Railway Magazine.

Bill
What–me worry?

John L Dobson

  • Museum Member
  • Hostler
  • ***
  • Posts: 210
    • View Profile
Re: Narrow Gauge Theory of the 1870s and '80s
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2021, 04:30:55 PM »
Thanks Bill

You'll be welcome at the FR any time you want to visit.
John L Dobson
Editor, FR Magazine

Carl G. Soderstrom

  • Museum Member
  • Fireman
  • ****
  • Posts: 478
  • Looking for 2' NG knowledge
    • View Profile
Re: Narrow Gauge Theory of the 1870s and '80s
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2021, 08:00:05 PM »
A prophecy of containerized freight?  ;) Just a century too soon?

>In point of fact, however, it is suggested that, this difficulty may be readily overcome.  “At the meeting of two roads of different gauges, side tracks can be brought parallel with each other under a simple gallows-frame crane, which, by a single movement, not necessarily occupying more than two minutes of time, may transfer two car bodies, each sixteen feet long, from the narrow gauge trucks to a platform car, thirty-two feet long of the common gauge.  Two bodies carrying five tons each will be only a full load for one strong platform car of the ordinary dimensions, and they and their contents may be transported over the trunk road upon such a car with every usual guaranty of safety and despatch.<

Philip Marshall

  • Museum Member
  • Engineer
  • ****
  • Posts: 671
    • View Profile
Re: Narrow Gauge Theory of the 1870s and '80s
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2021, 11:33:35 PM »
What an excellent article, and from the very beginning of the narrow gauge era in the US! Thank you so much for posting it, Bill.

It's worth noting that when the author refers to "Messrs. Baird & Co., of Philadelphia, celebrated locomotive builders" he means the Baldwin Locomotive Works.

I wonder, has anyone located George Parker's report to the Massachusetts legislature that the article quotes? It is mentioned briefly by George Hilton in American Narrow Gauge Railroads (which notes Parker's early containerized freight idea), but I haven't seen it cited elsewhere - not even in Donald Ball's book on the Billerica & Bedford, which is surprising since how could George Mansfield not have been influenced by it?

Bill Reidy

  • Museum Member
  • Dispatcher
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,136
  • Life member. Ack.
    • View Profile
Re: Narrow Gauge Theory of the 1870s and '80s
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2021, 08:57:36 AM »
I wonder, has anyone located George Parker's report to the Massachusetts legislature that the article quotes? It is mentioned briefly by George Hilton in American Narrow Gauge Railroads (which notes Parker's early containerized freight idea), but I haven't seen it cited elsewhere - not even in Donald Ball's book on the Billerica & Bedford, which is surprising since how could George Mansfield not have been influenced by it?

I just found Parker's report here, dated 11 March 1871, as a PDF:  https://archives.lib.state.ma.us/bitstream/handle/2452/728343/ocm39986872-1871-HB-0180.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Reference page in case the above link does not work:  https://archives.lib.state.ma.us/handle/2452/728343
What–me worry?

Jeff Schumaker

  • Museum Member
  • Dispatcher
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,139
    • View Profile
Re: Narrow Gauge Theory of the 1870s and '80s
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2021, 10:44:00 AM »
There has been a rumor that George Mansfield visited the Ffestiniog Railway and got the idea of a 2 foot railroad in the US. Don Ball could not find any information to support this. I wonder if this article was the motivating factor instead.

Jeff S.
Hey Rocky, watch me pull a moose trout out of my hat.

Philip Marshall

  • Museum Member
  • Engineer
  • ****
  • Posts: 671
    • View Profile
Re: Narrow Gauge Theory of the 1870s and '80s
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2021, 01:38:21 PM »
Yes, that's what I was thinking. Donald Ball argues that Mansfield most likely did not visit the Ffestiniog Railway as has often been claimed, though Matthias Forney and General Palmer (of the D&RG) certainly did make the trip.

Thank you, Bill for digging up Parker's report as well. This is great stuff.