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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Even Steeper than Raton Pass

Last week I posted a picture of a train going over the 3.5% grade of Raton Pass between New Mexico and Colorado with a helper engine behind it. That reminded me of another post card I have of several engines going over another pass.
This post card is a picture of Soldier Summit with a train making its way over the 3% grade of Soldier Pass in Utah.
The pass was named Soldier Summit because several soldiers are buried there. During the beginning of the Civil War (1861) General Philip St. George Cooke and several others tried to cross the pass on their way to join the Confederate Army. They were caught in a snow storm in July of 1861. Those who died during the storm were buried there.
The post card shows a Denver & Rio Grande (D&RGR) train. But the D&RGR did not build the line. It was built by the Utah & Pleasant Valley Railway, which was incorporated between 1875 and when it was bought by the D&RGR in 1881. Grading for the line began in April of 1877, but railway itself was not completed until October of 1880; it was purchased in April of 1881. The first locomotive was run on the line on September 16, 1878. It helped to build the rest of the line.
The four percent grade heading up to Soldier Summit was a bottleneck, and in 1913 just over 22 kilometers of new line was built between Detour and Soldier Summit. Today that four percent grade route is part of US Highway 6 between Detour and Soldier Summit.
The post card was published by a very prolific company, H. H. Tammen. Perhaps you can see the little "alien" type of fellow in the top-center of the post card. In 1895 Tammen formed a partnership with F.G. Bonfils (whom he had met at the Chicago World's Fair) and they became co-owners and co-editors of the Denver Post. Their publishing business flourished, and Tammen's business successes made him a wealthy man. In 1917 Buffalo Bill Cody happened to die while in Denver, and Tammen (one of the city's biggest boosters) offered Cody's widow $10,000 if she would allow Cody to be buried in Denver; she accepted, and the ensuing funeral procession drew 50,000 people. He established the H.H. Tammen Trust in 1924, providing essential health care for children of families who cannot afford to pay. Tammen died July 19, 1924. The H.H. Tammen Curio Co. was in business until 1953, and possibly as late as 1962.
The post card was mailed two years before Buffalo Bill died.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

PCC Streetcars

All of this information below is taken from the Wikipedia website. PCC stands for "Presidents' Conference Committee". The group's membership consisted primarily of representatives of several larger operators of U.S. urban electric street railways plus potential manufacturers. Three interurban lines and at least one "heavy rail", or rapid transit, operator—Chicago Rapid Transit Company—were represented as well. Also included on the membership roll were manufacturers of surface cars (streetcars) and interested component suppliers.

ERPCC's goal was to design a streamlined, comfortable, quiet, and fast accelerating and braking streetcar that would be operated by a seated operator using floor mounted pedal controls to better meet the needs of the street railways and to better appeal to riders. they prepared a detailed research plan, conducted extensive research on streetcar design, built and tested components, made necessary modifications and revisions based upon the findings, and ultimately produced a set of specifications for a standardized and fixed design
(albeit one with a modest list of available options with ample room for customer customization) to be built with standard parts as opposed to a custom designed carbody with any variety of different parts added depending on the whims and requirements of the individual customer. An excellent product emerged, the PCC car, as was proved in later years by numerous national and international users. Westinghouse developed the XD-323
rotary accelerator for motor control with 99 points; it was installed in the first PRCo car, number 100, and minor modifications allowed use in the last PCCs produced in North America for San Francisco in 1952. Prior streetcar control, existing from the 1890s, required a standing operator at a three foot high vertical "switch stand" to rotate a handle to one of six brass points mounted within the stand to provide traction motor control and acceleration. The PCC had its accelerator
under the floor where the pedal activated linkage to resistance ribbons were mounted to each PCC point around the outside edge of the accelerator. The PCC car was not just another modular vehicle but the result of the only systems engineering approach to mass producing a rail car. Research into passenger comfort resulting from vibrations, acceleration, lighting, heating and cooling, seat spacing, cushion height, space for arms, legs, standing passengers, economies of weight affecting maintenance, cost of power, reduced wear of components and track. Dimensions were established to fit the majority but could easily be changed for special situations. Windows were spaced to match seating.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

PAT M-210 Still Working

The information about the streetcar on the front of this post card is taken directly from the website of the organization (Port Authority Transit, Pittsburgh) that still owns and operates this streetcar:

Probably the most essential work car on any trolley company’s roster was the line car, or tower car. Because the wire is exposed to constant wear from the wheels and shoes that collect the power to run the cars and the forces of man and nature, regular maintenance was vital for the smooth operation of the system. The line car was often the only means of accessing the problem. Car M210 was built in 1940 at Pittsburgh Railways’ Homewood Shops, using components salvaged from two other cars. Its trucks and control equipment came from car 4306, a double-ended low-floor car very similar to museum car 4398. Its tower equipment was transferred from line construction car M211. The car embodies many special features which make it very versatile. The tower or platform on the roof hydraulically raises and lowers to adjust to a comfortable work height, and will also swivel to allow work on poles or the wires on adjacent tracks. Inside, the car carries a 5,000-foot spool of wire. Through a special power collector on the wire reel, the line car is capable of operating while threading out new wire. To facilitate this operation, its control circuits are equipped with a special slow speed mode. M210 has been in continuous service with only cosmetic changes to its basic appearance since 1940. Radio equipment was added to the car in the 1970s by Pittsburgh Railways’ successor, Port Authority Transit (PAT); in 1989, computerized control equipment was added to make the car compatible with the new system on the light rail lines in Pittsburgh. M210 was declared surplus in 1995 by PAT and donated to PTM, replacing the existing line car 2 which was converted from a double truck Philadelphia Transportation Company snow sweeper by Museum volunteers in the 1970s in lieu of having M210. This car was subsequently traded to the New York Museum of Transportation where it continues in use as an overhead line car.

Car Number M210
Car Builder Pittsburgh Railways Company Homewood Shop
Year Built 1940
Type DT DE overhead line car
Length 45’0″
Motors WH 514P
Year Acquired 1995
Status in service

The post card was published by the same company that published last week's post card. They are still out of business and I can still not find any information about them.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Light Rail Transit does not mean LIGHT RAIL

The pictures on the front of these two post cards show a couple of
Edmonton's Light Rail Transit (LRT) trains. Today, the LRT system consists of two completed lines (the Capital Line and the Metro Line), one under construction, one in the planning stage and two in the concept stage of development. This link will provide information about the intended future of the Edmonton LRT system:
Between the two active lines there are 19 stations on 24.5 kilometers (15 miles) of track. The Capital Line has 15 stations and the Metro Line has four. The system opened in 1978 with only 7 kilometers of track and 14 articulated vehicles connecting northeast Edmonton to downtown. The two trains shown on these two post cards are both built by the German company, Duewag. This company was founded in 1898 to manufacture railway vehicles.

Both post cards were published by JBC Visuals from Toronto, Ontario.
They are definitely from the 1970s. First, because of the time reference in the top post card "Route extensions are planned during the 1980s." and second, because the Postal Code was not included in the company's address. The Postal Code did not come into full use until the late 1970s.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Near the End of the Era

The picture on the front of this post card was taken in March of 1961. It has
to be one of the very last pictures of the "Big Red Cars" before they succumbed to the freeway system of Southern California. The parent company, Pacific Electric Railway, though, had a good run.
The company was founded in May of 1901 by Isaias Hellman (president of the Nevada Bank - San Francisco's largest bank at that time) and Henry Huntington (nephew of Collis Huntington - one of "the big four" of the Central Pacific Railroad). Henry was also involved in the building of the Santa Monica Wharf, about which I posted a blog on January 29th. The first leg of the railway opened on July 4, 1902. It was an electric railway that ran down to Long Beach. The plan was to build and link almost all of Southern California with intercity electric railways. The owners (and board members) would know what the routes were before the public and they would use third parties to purchase the land along the right of way. They would then build the line and either sell or lease land along the line to interested businesses and residents. They made a lot of money!!! There were competing lines, but in 1911 the eight existing entities were merged into one, Pacific Electric Railway Company. At their height of operations they had over 2,000 daily runs over more than 1,000 miles of tracks. It all came to an end as the freeway system in the Los Angeles basin and surrounding areas dominated the local transportation of choice. It is hard to put an actual date on the end because there is still a commuter system today. Take a look at the description of the Pacific Electric Railway in wikipedia and you will see what I mean.
This post card was published by the Audio Visual Designs Company. Founded in 1964 by the late Carl H. Sturner, Audio-Visual Designs has been a leader in providing high quality railroad images products for over 4 decades. The business was originally located in Earlton, NY. The name was derived by the products sold at the time – audio soundtracks of trains well as visual items (post cards, books, & calendars). The first All Pennsy Calendar was published in 1966 and for many years used exclusively the photos of Don Wood, a long time friend of Carl's. In the late 80's, Carl started showcasing other photographer's work as well. Railroad Christmas cards were added to the line of products early on and with a few exceptions have featured real photos of trains in action. Three railroad books have been published by Audio-Visual Designs: I Remember Pennsy, Locomotives in My Life, and The Unique New York and Long Branch: all of which were projects worked on by Carl and Mr. Wood. Audio-Visual Designs has also published books for other non-railroad related organizations.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Still Standing after 130 Years!!

The picture on the front of this post card is from between 1890 and March 1, 1907. For many years the train traffic across Main Street in Springfield, Massachusetts crossed at grade level. This blocked traffic and caused
some backups of vehicle traffic. Part of this was because the trains moving west quickly came to wye after crossing main street. The wye helped them either to go north or to go south along the Connecticut River. Negotiating the wye could not be done at a high speed so the longer trains took longer to cross Main Street. In 1890 the city built a bridge over Main Street so the trains could do their thing and the vehicles could do theirs. The arch bridge is still there today. This is what someone posted on line:

On March 1, 1907 the United States Postal Service allowed people to put their messages (not only the address) on the flip-side of the post card. So this card is from between 1890 and March 1, 1907. The back of the post card reveals that it is part of a series - No. 740 out of
I don't know how many. It was published by The Springfield News Company. The card itself was printed over in Germany, like so many post cards of the day. You will notice that in the bottom left of the card the United States Postal Service reminds the sender that this side can only contain the address. That is why the picture on the front has a rectangular blank space on the right-hand side, instead of a larger picture.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Again, Almost... in New Zealand

This is a follow up posting from last week's tale of New Zealand. Last week was about the streetcars that we almost rode. This week is about the cross-country scenic train that we almost rode.

This is an excerpt from their website:
Experience the South Island’s striking natural landscape by taking a train between Christchurch and Greymouth. Along this journey you’ll see epic vistas, travel the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River, traverse the Southern Alps, and see miles of native beech forest.
The TranzAlpine is one of the world's great train journeys covering 223 kilometres (139 miles) one-way, taking just under 5 hours. You’ll traverse the majestic Canterbury Plains, to the backdrop of the mighty Southern Alps - the journey of a lifetime.

This is a post card that shows a portion of the train and the ride:

This post card was also published by Kiwi Vista Company out of Auckland.