Re: Narrow gauge - in 1905

Nigel Phillips


Not so special for a one commodity carrier. The Great Falls and Canada Railway was built to transport coal from small mines in Lethbridge AB, to the Great Falls smelters in MT, in  1890. 3 foot gauge, converted to standard gauge by the Great Northern in 1903. The Canadian section around Lethbridge  continued as mixed narrow gauge/standard gauge  for a few years until completely taken over by CP.

Again, not so special for longevity. The Newfoundland Railway was narrow gauge from its inception in 1897 until it's closure in 1988 under CN ownership. 3.5 feet gauge. Freight and passenger for most of its life, 906 miles in total. The rot really set in when Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949.

The White Pass and Yukon was formed from 3 narrow gauge railways in 1898, 3 foot gauge. Started as a one commodity railway (gold), later freight and passenger. Still running as a scenic railway although much shorter.

The article referred to was spot on, most narrow gauge lines were quickly converted to standard gauge if successful. If not they were abandoned. 


On Thursday, June 17, 2021, John Stutz <john.stutz@...> wrote:

EBT was clearly a special case, being from circa 1905 on ,the transportation arm of a coal company operating in a district where the rolling coal seam topography precluded any large mines.  That company survived by using the EBT to combine the output of multiple small mines, and move the raw coal to a single large coal cleaning plant, located alongside the standard gauge that could take it on to actual markets.

John Stutz 
On June 16, 2021 12:43 PM Russ Norris <rbnorrisjr@...> wrote:

Really interesting, John, that the author has absolutely nothing good to say about "the narrow gage myth".  I model the East Broad Top, which ran successfully from 1875 until 1956, and for much of its lifetime showed a profit for the shareholders.  I'm sure you could think of other narrow gauge railroads for which the same could be said.  And this was written at a time when the country was covered with narrow gauge railroads.  Amazing.

Russ Norris

On Wed, Jun 16, 2021 at 3:29 PM John Stutz < john.stutz@...> wrote:
I have recently been combing the technical press for articles on tunnel construction, and ran across a 1905 evaluation of the cost savings to be expected, in constructing and operating light railways on a narrow gauge.

This is by the editor of Engineering News, probably the leading engineering publication in North America at that time.  It begins on the lower left of the following page:

John Stutz

Russ Norris, MMR
Cape Cod, Massachusetts

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