Old West

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Les, Apr 4, 2008.

  1. Les

    Les New Member

    During the 1860's - 1890's was in unusual for a loco to only have one carriage ? If not I would also be greatful for direction to a website that displays such a set up like this. Thanks.
  2. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Consists of one loco/tender, one carriage and a caboose were quite common. The most common ones I have seen are:

    Photographer's special, done quite often to promote the various lines.

    Inspection teams.

    Visiting dignitaries - private railcar in this case, and

    Diminishing traffic. One photo is of one of the last trains through the Alpine Pass.

    Where to find such photos? Go to the Narrow Gauge Circle or any of the Rocky Mountain rail history sites and you are sure to come across some. I found several in history books, notable Beam's, one of the great railway photographers, as well as other histories.
  3. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Early branch lines were often run as mixed trains. Probably just a few freight cars and a combine or other passenger coach. But, if there was no freight that day, it is entirely plausable to have just a locomotive and a combination passenger/baggage car.

  4. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Some of the small towns were very remote, and didn't justify much passenger traffic - the railroad was really there to make money from the mines. Again, a single coach would be "normal" .

    At the height of operation - over twenty trains a day both ways on a single line narrow gauge track, the very busy Florence and Cripple Creek RR normally consisted of three passenger cars, sometimes a baggage/combo car and a caboose. Narrow Gauge trains were pretty short due to light rails, steep grades and small engines compared to their larger standard gauge brethren.

    The F&CCRR, for example, had a ruling grade of about 4% and a one stretch at 6%!
  5. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I may be wrong here, but I think it depended on whether the train in question was for a branch line or a mainline. From the time right after the civil war until the Santa Fe started offering scheduled fast freight for an extra charge in the 1920's, the standard practice of the railroads was to hold a freight train until there was enough freight to fill the train. The result was that the trains were not dispatched to go across country on the mainline until there was enough freight to make a full train. A branchline train would be a different story. They might well send a single car and a caboose out on the branch to deliver a load that came in to the main junction point rather than have that car tie up a siding waiting for more carloads to come in. Of course, as has been mentioned, special movements did not follow any set rules. If the railroad president wanted to go across country on his railroad, his private car would be hooked up to an engine and taken out whenever he desired to make a trip.
  6. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Just finished Volume #3 of the history of the Silverton area. Several photos of trains consisting of one loco and a combo car or a passenger car, sometimes with a caboose; sometimes not. Railroads built to service mines provided limited passenger service, in most cases.

    Strangest looking "train" in the book? One loco, one caboose and one empty gondola bringing up the rear - a photographer's special. Apparently he lived and worked out of the caboose, and used the gondola as a platform to set up his camera.
  7. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I would say it wasn't really that uncommon.

    One car trains were particularly popular for dignitaries and other non-revenue operations. On the East Broad Top, Presidential specials with just the business car and mogul #1 were common. President Siebert had a weekly dinner arrangement, and didn't mind taking a full engine crew for the day to haul is 1 car to and from.

    The DSP&P regularly used 4-4-0 #2 to pull just the office car or the paycar (which may have also had a caboose). Their are many pictures of 1-4 car trains prior to 1883. Part of the reason was that most of their locomotives could only pull 1-3 cars during that time period. This was on the mainline.

    Of the railroads I've studied (which doesn't include the AT&SF, UP or such), they were operated by time table. Telegraph lines would help to coordinate in the event of delays/extras. Freight and passenger service were regular. You generally had to run the scheduled trains regardless...to avoid legal problems. The Rio Grande operate the southern end of the old South Park mainline for many years at a major loss...3 trains a week up that line. Further, you had to fulfill the mail contracts...which is why the RGS built the Galloping Geese...so even if there was no freight, you'd have to send a train over the line.

    Now extras were only sent as needed. Typically, you can spot them in photographs by the white flags. During busy times, many could be built into a schedule.

    That being said...I don't know beans about the operations of many other railroads.
  8. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    During that period as well, the railroad would not necessarily be relying simply on passengers for revenue [EDIT] on their "passenger" trains.

    A single car might have more commonly been a combine, with government mail contracts supplying the majority of the revenue, and thereby the reason for the train in the first place. Picking up passengers may have been a bit of a (economic) afterthought.

  9. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Member

    I believe the Wanderer from the Wild, Wild West series was just that.
  10. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Great point! IIRC, no (US) railroad ever claimed to make money off of passenger service...except for the the NYC and SP. Although excursions certainly did make money for plenty of other roads. Think about all the financial trouble airlines have...even when they don't have to maintain the skys or pay for their terminals.
  11. wjstix

    wjstix Member

    Well depends, actually it wasn't that uncommon for a railroad to make a profit off passenger service in the steam era. The Northern Pacific made profits thru most of the 1960's - even after the mail was taken off the rails by the gov't. However mail was a huge source of revenue; when that service was pulled many trains were terminated because they were no longer economically viable.

    Even into the 1950's it wasn't uncommon for a "scoot" of a steam engine and one car to be used to connect a city to a mainline, so that people from that city could get on the railroad's mainline trains. NP ran such a train from Duluth/Superior to I think Bemidji MN so that people could connect to the North Coast Limited and Mainstreeter.

    Also remember streetcars only came in towards the later part of the 1800's, and railroads operated many commuter trains that would later be taken over by street railways. They could be just one car and an engine, often a tank engine that ran equally well in either direction.

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