Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cable Railway Cable Tube

Here's an excellent picture from the June 7, 1884 issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, illustrating how the cable railway cable is carried in a protective tube yet can still be gripped by the Grip. [Click on the pic to make it bick. Uh. big.]

Here's a link to the front page of that issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. Thanks to Steve Kirch for sending nearly two thousandof SciAm cover scans for the site; we've got over 1000 of them online at the current time, with many more on the way.

The Great Sea Serpent of the Garden of Acclimatation

From the December 22, 1900 issue of the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN SUPPLEMENT, reprinted from La Nature.

"Ophion," designed by Walter Stenning and manufactured in Paris, seems more like a ride from a theme park than a true electric railroad, but a full-scale electric garden railroad is OK by me. The train is over a hundred feet in length, and 6.5 feet in diameter. Powered by batteries (or, as they say, "accumulators"). Click the pictures to download larger versions.

The second picture seems to show it floating on a single rail, but this is probably draftsman's error.

Thanks to Steve Davis for the original magazine scan showing these pictures.

Farmers Delivering Milk to a Trolley Car (1901)

Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, farmers bring milk to a platform where a trolley car picks it up and ships it off to customers (processors, creameries) in a nearby town. In 1901 the farmer's life was changing as new technology and efforts by the government to ease their lives began to have effect.

From "The Countryman Has the Better of It," by W. Frank McClure, appearing in THE WORLD'S WORK, October 1901, p. 1311. Neither the location nor the electric railway company are identified in the article, which says,

"The trolley line is undoubtedly the greatest single financial boon to the country districts. Aside from its advantage as a carrier of pas­sengers, the establishment of its freight and truck lines means economies to the farmer of which he did not dream a quarter of a century ago. Farmers have been known to send to market as small a parcel as a pound of butter. The trolley car can carry freight at a rate of five or ten cents for a few miles, while the steam railroad's rate for freight is never less than twenty-five cents.

"Near a large city the farms along a trolley line become suburban property inhabited by the rich, who handsomely improve the land. But a conservative estimate of the increase on land in exclusively rural districts may be placed at forty per cent.

"As in the case of the centralization of schools, the trolley systems bring back to rural life the country-loving people who went to the cities to escape isolation. The rural population is also increased by many city people who desire to build fine houses, but who will build them where taxes are lower than in the cities. The telephone also is doing its important work in putting rural life on the same level of conveniences as town life. Thus, by all these agencies, the country-dwelling man is getting not only his share of modern advancement, but he has his fresh air and his greenery and his independence to boot. He can preserve; his own individuality and still live in the middle of the world."

Union Traction of Indiana Manager's Car "Martha" in 1901

From an article in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN for July 26, 1901, found by eBay seller ohiopeddler and Photoshopped by Mike:

Wikipedia has a good rundown on Indiana's interurban railroads.


A photograph on eBay, apparently an accident on the Vermont Central. The eBay seller redhouse31 says,

"Measuring about 5-1/2" x 3-1/2", this black and white photo postcard depicts what is obviously a train wreck in the clean-up or investigation stage. There are two trains in the picture. The one on the left is the one that is damaged. It is just a steam locomotive, with the front part intact but the cab in ruins, as if an explosion had torn it to shreds. The other train looks to be undamaged, as if it was not part of the accident but just came along afterwards to help clean up.

"Both locomotives look like Pacific models, possibly Baldwins, with either six or eight big wheels (it's hard to see the small wheels). On the damaged locomotive, the only identifying mark I see is a number on the front dome - it looks like either 811 or 311, but it could also be a four-digit number, with the first digit hidden. The other train has a light in front of the funnel that looks like it has a number above it, but I can't read it. The first freight car behind the tender, however, appears to say Vermont Central (and I realize, of course, that, even if I've read that correctly, that doesn't necessarily mean that this accident took place on a Vermont Central Railroad track - these freight cars aften travel far from their home turf).

"Beyond the tracks, all I can see is trees, but the foliage is gone, so this is not a summertime incident. In the immediate foreground are a few curious onlookers, and, closer to the train, some men in suits and bowler hats (obviously the investigation team) and a couple of guys in boilersuits. The undamaged train has an engineer leaning out of the cab window, and there is smoke coming out of the funnel. Between the tracks and the foreground onlookers is a tangle of miscellaneous debris - either thrown there by the explosion or piled up there after being derailed by the explosion. I see some rolling stock wheels leaning up against some other unidentifiable car parts.

"I wish I had more information on the precise time and place of this accident, but I think I've given you all the clues I can come up with. It has not been mailed or used or written on, so there are no clues on the other side."

[Note: I've Photoshopped the image to correct for parallax distortion. As always, click on the image to see a larger version.]

Getting There

Triple meaning: (1) Transportation (2) Getting this blog organized and updated (3) Moving it from its previous location.

So far, so good.

The handwritten caption reads "Largest electric locomotive in the world. To run thro' P.R.R. tunnel to N. Y. City".Source: Library of Congress.