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Transcontinental Railroad?

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Transcontinental Railroad?
Posted by tatans on Tuesday, November 09, 2004 12:54 PM
Am I correct that there was never one single railroad in the U.S. that connects coast to coast? east to west or north to south? Is this still the same today? I realise that shipping a boxcar of doorknobs from New York to Los Angeles it may be pulled by many different railroads and it will arrive, I can't think of another country that does not have one or more single transcontinental or trans country trains, (we have 2 here in Canada) oh, yes, don't forget the Panama Canal Railway. So correct me, does that mean when the 2 railroads met nose to nose in Utah?? for the last spike, the line to the west could have been 2-3 or more railroad companies and the line to the east may have had 5-6-7 or more independent railroads. I really have to increase my reading program. thanks I await some lively responses.
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Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, November 09, 2004 1:51 PM
Yes there has never been one company that has a continuous line from coast to coast in the US (unless you count the SP from the Gulf Coast to the Pacific Coast).

There was one railroad from San Franciso to Promontory, one from Promontory to Omaha and then you could travel on dozens of railroads from Omaha to the Atlantic.

John White's "American Railroad Freight Car" is a good general history of early railroads.

Dave H.

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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, November 09, 2004 2:55 PM
Don't let him fool you, Amtrak goes coast to coast [:P]
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Posted by CP5415 on Tuesday, November 09, 2004 3:24 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by SteamerFan

Don't let him fool you, Amtrak goes coast to coast [:P]


Not on their own track they don't!! [:D]

Gordon

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Posted by AltonFan on Tuesday, November 09, 2004 3:38 PM
There is a sort of invisible dividing line running from Chicago, through Peoria, and then down the Mississippi through St. Louis to New Orleans, the separated the western roads from the eastern. (The Wabash did run through to Omaha, but that was the only exception.)

Part of the reason for this had to do with the realities of the railroad business in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Any railroad attempting to acquire significant milage west of the dividing line was potentially in a position to unfairly burden their competition with short haul traffic.

For freight trains, the problems inherent in this situation were minimal. The large eastern railroads (NYC and PRR) could run their trains to Chicago, Peoria, or St Louis, and interchange their cars with friendly western connections. Passengers, however, had to either change trains, or have their cars switched to the trains of western lines.

Dan

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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, November 09, 2004 5:55 PM
Y
QUOTE: Originally posted by tatans
east to west or north to south?


East to west, no. North to south, yes. All five US Class 1's have north-south lines.
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Posted by Wdlgln005 on Tuesday, November 09, 2004 8:37 PM
It's true. there has been and there still is no east-west transcontinental rail lines. Lines East built west to Chicago, StLouis or New Orleans. Lines West began in these cities and built their way west.

Traditionally, the north/south lines broke at the Ohio River or the Mason Dixon line. Most of the lines went east & west rather than north & south. One exception is the Illinois Central, reaching from Chicago to the Gulf. As a part of CN, it finally reaches the northern border thru Michigan & Minnesota. If CN held the line further north to Hudson Bay, it would be the only transcontinental. It would also need some lines thru Texas to Mexico.

Roads like L&N and the Clinchfield in the CSX family give it some north-south lines as well. AT&SF and BN had other lines that link midwest cities with Gulf ports.
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Posted by tatans on Tuesday, November 09, 2004 9:24 PM
According to CN website map, CN lines connect to Prince Rupert in Northern British Columbia then by ship to Alaska, both east & west coasts in Canada then south to U.S. sort of down the Mississippi valley to New Orleans and over through Texas into Mexico and down to almost the bottom of Mexico on the Pacific side and the Gulf of Mexica too. So if you want to ship frozen fish heads from Prince Rupert completely through the U.S. to the bottom of Mexico---phone CN.
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Posted by Jetrock on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 12:02 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by dehusman
[There was one railroad from San Franciso to Promontory, one from Promontory to Omaha and then you could travel on dozens of railroads from Omaha to the Atlantic.
Dave H.


*ahem* *ahem*

The Central Pacific went from SACRAMENTO to Promontory. Initially traffic from Sacramento to San Francisco was by river craft, and later there were rail lines to San Francisco from Sacramento.

Sorry to sound like a nitpicker, but Sacramento has to stand in San Francisco's shadow often enough in other ways...
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Posted by twhite on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 8:04 AM
That's telling 'em, Jetrock! SACRAMENTO to Promontory Point! San Francisco wasn't in the running back then. Actually, back in the early 20th century, there WAS a coast to coast railroad, briefly. Though it was made up of four railroads, they were all under the control of one man (George Gould) and ran from Oakland, CA to New York. Wabash, MoPac, Rio Grande and Western Pacific. Didn't last too long, because Rio Grande folded under the accumulated debt incurred from financing the building of the WP, but for a while, he had a true transcontinental. And passengers could always ride coast to coast from New York to San Francisco during the so-called 'Golden Age', since the SP/UP/C&NW 'Overland Limited' carried a Pennsy through sleeper for years.
Tom
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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 1:56 PM
Not to be too much of a nitpicker twhite, but actually the Central Pacific ran from Sacramento to Promontory Summit, not Promontory Point. I still slip that up often, probably due to all history books being wrong. Promontory Point is in the middle of the Great Salt Lake, the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific joined at Promontory Summit which is north of the Salt Lake. There was an article in Trains a number of years ago about the whole deal.
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Posted by Junctionfan on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 3:24 PM
I think the BNSF is pretty close right now. Their purchase of Frisco gets them pretty close to the east.
Andrew
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Posted by tatans on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 6:15 PM
Terrific answers-- It would seem a good thing these various railroads managed to use a standard guage track instead of each railroad using a different guage as they did in parts of Europe, When railroads actually hauled humans(passengers) were there actual changes of trains while on a trip across the U.S. way back then???? HMMMMM
now if the U.S. were only to nationalize the railroads--- OOOPS !! sorry.
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Posted by twhite on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 10:17 PM
Conrail: Right you are. However, East of the Mississippi it's Promontory Summit, West of the Mississippi it's Promontory Point. We cowboys out here use the excuse that you can see the Point from the Summit. Oh, well--
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Posted by BR60103 on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 11:39 PM
Tatans: the was a line, "A hog can cross the country without changing cars, but you can't."
I'm not sure if there were never any cars that ran through at Chicago. The number of stations they had might make it difficult.

--David

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Posted by Jetrock on Thursday, November 11, 2004 2:39 AM
Tatans: The rails still carry passengers now--never stopped. There wasn't a single railroad that crossed the country because no single railroad had the economic reach to do so. The government at the time didn't, either--that's why they contracted with private companies to build and operate the railroads.

Standardization of gauge came about roughly during the Civil War, although nonstandard gauges were found for another century or so afterward.

Despite having to change trains once in a while, the fact that one COULD take a train from one end of the country to another was a fairly amazing feat--compared to going around South America, taking the land-bridge route across the Isthmus of Panama, or hiking over the mountains, a couple car changes during a two-week trip was pretty convenient by comparison!

Even without a government-enforced monopoly, regional railroads often cooperated to provide long-haul passengers relative simplicity of travel, like the Chicago/Oakland "California Zephyr" which was shuttled between BN, D&RGW and WP.

The whole Promontory Summit/Promontory Point thing was drilled into us during my docent training at the Railroad Museum--I just call it "Promontory" to simplify explanations and not have to correct people quite so often (Not that I'm not fond of correcting people...)
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Posted by tatans on Thursday, November 11, 2004 10:40 AM
Just one LAST question: Am I right in thinking the "California Zephyr" was allowed to use the whole train, engines included, or not , and travel all the way to California on competitors track, I think Santa Fe had a long reaching passenger fleet also? I might add as a child on the prairies I saw whole 75 car freight trains with ONLY C.P.R boxcars and maybe one U.S. boxcar in the entire train, this must not have been seen if you lived in Omaha, to see an entire freight with all one railroad name on the boxcars : TRUE?O.K. O.K. no more questions, Thanks
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Posted by DSchmitt on Thursday, November 11, 2004 2:35 PM
From the California Zephyr Virtual Museum http://calzephyr.railfan.net/ [8D]

The following locomotive types were purchased specifically for the California Zephyr

CB&Q F3A and F3B A+B+A sets

DRGW PA1 and PB1 A+B+A sets, F3A and F3B A+B+B+A sets

WP F3A and F3B A+B+B sets, FP7A and F7B A+B+A sets

Each railroad furnished the locos for its segment of the route. Other types of locos were sometimes used in latter years. [:)]

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

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Posted by tatans on Thursday, November 11, 2004 4:33 PM
The site you gave explains it all and its a great site---thanks a million
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Posted by Bikerdad on Thursday, November 11, 2004 11:11 PM
Gauge standardization in the US came about because of Civil War experiences, but the crucial point was the Transcontinental Railroad Act, which authorized the building of the transcontinental railroad, with its attendant land grants to the railroads, along with the Postal requirements, etc. The act specified that the gauge of the Transcontinental railroad(s) (i.e., anything built that would take advantage of the land grants) would be 4' 81/2". Whereupon the railroads that were of a different gauge set about reforming themselves so that THEY wouldn't be left out in the cold.

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Posted by wp8thsub on Thursday, November 11, 2004 11:39 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by twhite

However, East of the Mississippi it's Promontory Summit, West of the Mississippi it's Promontory Point.


No it ain't. We in Utah try to remember the difference, especially because we like to rub it in whenever somebody else slips up.[:D]

Rob Spangler

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Posted by randybc2003 on Tuesday, November 16, 2004 4:23 PM
Am I much mistaken or didn't AT&SF (Yup - I know BN&SF) have direct and owned service into Houston and Galvaston? - and Long Beach, and San Francisco?? Hmmmm?
[%-)]
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Posted by vsmith on Tuesday, November 16, 2004 5:17 PM
Perhaps the biggest reason for the divide early on in the history of rail building had to do with the inability to cross the Mississippi river in the region of the transcontinental RR, prior to its start, any rails simply stopped and the cities of the eastern bank. So the UP began in the dusty western bank town of Omaha. All equipement being ferried across the Big Mo or brought in by steamship.. This was the case for almost every west of the Mississippi railroad until the Eads Bridge was constructed in St Loius in 1874. Most RR's divide up at the river between east and west. Chicago being the exception and why Chicago became such a massive rail hub.

    Have fun with your trains

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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, November 16, 2004 7:33 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by DSchmitt

From the California Zephyr Virtual Museum http://calzephyr.railfan.net/ [8D]

The following locomotive types were purchased specifically for the California Zephyr

CB&Q F3A and F3B A+B+A sets

DRGW PA1 and PB1 A+B+A sets, F3A and F3B A+B+B+A sets

WP F3A and F3B A+B+B sets, FP7A and F7B A+B+A sets

Each railroad furnished the locos for its segment of the route. Other types of locos were sometimes used in latter years. [:)]



Don't forget that the CB&Q also used E8s and E9s!

BNSF does have a line from Seattle to Galveston, TX on the Gulf coast--BN used to have trackage into Mobile, AL and Pensacola, FL on the old Frisco. The EsPee and the Santa Fe also had lines from the West coast to the Gulf of Mexico. I don't think that any road from the east coast went any further west than St. Louis or Chicago, though. (N&W did go to Kansas City and Omaha after the Wabash merger, though.)
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Posted by DSchmitt on Tuesday, November 16, 2004 9:27 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by cjm89

QUOTE: Originally posted by DSchmitt

From the California Zephyr Virtual Museum http://calzephyr.railfan.net/ [8D]

The following locomotive types were purchased specifically for the California Zephyr

CB&Q F3A and F3B A+B+A sets

DRGW PA1 and PB1 A+B+A sets, F3A and F3B A+B+B+A sets

WP F3A and F3B A+B+B sets, FP7A and F7B A+B+A sets

Each railroad furnished the locos for its segment of the route. Other types of locos were sometimes used in latter years. [:)]



Don't forget that the CB&Q also used E8s and E9s!



According to the Zephyr web site, although they were used, they were not purchased for the Zephyr service.

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

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Posted by tatans on Tuesday, November 16, 2004 10:50 PM
Here in Canada the Government gave the C.P.R. hundeds of thousands of square miles of land (PLUS the mineral rights) in exchange for the railway to provide Passenger service to Canadians, along with a lot of other concessions that have, over time, just been forgotten, does this mean we get our land back because they no longer provide this service---seems fair to me, but I don't think I will hold my breath. I think the concept of the Government of the time was to unite Canada East to West with a trans-contintal railway before those evil Americans came up and took over our west, although the president of the C.P.R. was an American, history--ain't it great. By the way, what would have been the differnce in U.S. history if there WAS one or two trans-continental railroads ?
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Posted by Texas Zepher on Tuesday, November 16, 2004 11:06 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by randybc2003

Am I much mistaken or didn't AT&SF (Yup - I know BN&SF) have direct and owned service into Houston and Galvaston? - and Long Beach, and San Francisco?? Hmmmm?
[%-)]


Yes I believe you are correct, as well as, in 1928 the Santa Fe purchased the "Orient of Texas" giving it (over simplified term) the port on the Pacific Ocean at Topolobampo, Mexico. This port is said to be 400 miles closer to Kansas City than any of the ports in the US. I don't know why they sold it off. Quite quickly it seems.

Oh yeah, and earlier there was the Sonora land grant from Mexico in 1879. That was used to build to the port of Quaymas Mexico in the Gulf of California.

Quick Refs:
Book "Santa Fe ... Steel Rails Through California", Duke.
Book "Route of the Warbonnets", McMillan.
Web site: http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/KK/eqk5.html
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Posted by Texas Zepher on Tuesday, November 16, 2004 11:22 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by vsmith

Perhaps the biggest reason for the divide early on in the history of rail building had to do with the inability to cross the Mississippi river ....


That is a good thought but I think it had more to do with the starting points of the railroads. The railroads starting in the west had to build west to get the land grants. By the time they looked to build to the east, there were all ready too many railroads built from the East. Also the railroads building from the east were slowed down by the civil war and by the time they got to the rivers there were already too many railroads crossing Iowa and Missouri. In the last part of the century (1880s? unfortunately I've misplace my reference) there were more miles of railroad track in desolate Kansas then in New York.
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Posted by Jetrock on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 12:32 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by tatans

I think the concept of the Government of the time was to unite Canada East to West with a trans-contintal railway before those evil Americans came up and took over our west, although the president of the C.P.R. was an American, history--ain't it great. By the way, what would have been the differnce in U.S. history if there WAS one or two trans-continental railroads ?


The United States built its first transcontinental line in order to accompli***he same goal--remember, this was during the Civil War, and California was a profoundly isolated place because of the huge travel times needed to reach it. The United States government feared that if the South could try to secede, the West, if it felt alienated enough from the East, might try the same thing.

I'm not sure that a single-owner line from coast to coast would have made any difference at all, other than acting as a monopoly which probably would have been broken up by some anti-trust act. The fact is, from the 1870's on you could go from one side of the continent to the other by rail--does it really matter if the rails were not all owned by the same company?
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Posted by tatans on Wednesday, November 17, 2004 3:03 PM
Ecellent responses, I'm getting my history lessons that were never taught in our schools, especially in the town I grew up in with the C.P.R. the largest by far employer, the C.P.R was always referred to as the G.D. C.P.R. (G.D. being an expletive) This information has been truly informative and does explain the massive differences in our countries, politically, economically, historically etc. etc. Yes, a book on this subject cannot be explained in a few paragraphs as above, I may add, the C.P.R. also sold land to the new immigrants by advertising in Europe and the British Isles and guess what railway they might use to try and fill up the vast prairies of Canada . thanks for the great responses.

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