Re: Narrow gauge - in 1905

Dave Eggleston


Well, first, they were fascinating subjects, many with interesting stories and ambitions.

Second, many were very colorful, both in livery and operations.

Third, they're smaller, making them fit better in limited space.

Fourth, several survived into the dawn of railfanning, presenting archaic, oddball, romantic notions just at the right time. 

And many more reasons. We are a group of antiquarians, researchers, modelers, artists, cartographers, archaeologists, industrial historians, machine heads, etc etc etc. Maybe we like it just because it's different, odd, flawed. 

None of that means that narrow gauge was the smartest or best implementation of railroading technology, but it captured our imaginations and hearts. I can't see why it's hard to imagine people following technology that was flawed or deadended. 

I'm here because I found the Sandy River in 1972, followed that to the Gilpin which led to the C&S, then to the Monterey &Salinas Valley, the Santa Cruz & Felton and from them to the Nevada Central and Carson & Colorado. Somewhere I found British 2' industrial and WWI Brit trench lines and then Darjeeling, Patagonia, Welshpool, etc. To my eye and imagination all far more fascinating than any standard gauge with the exception of the CP's float operation into the Slocan, which is the closest to narrow gauge, but was standard gauge, that I've found. 

Dave Eggleston

On Jun 18, 2021, at 4:06 PM, Russ Norris <rbnorrisjr@...> wrote:

So, gentlemen, if narrow gauge was so inefficient and in most cases was phased out early on, why are you interested in such a dead end for North American railroading?  And why is it that every year thousands gather for the National Narrow Gauge Convention and many more belong to this HOn3 list What is it that attracts you to what was essentially a dead end for the industry?  Are we just a group of antiquarians?  Why are you here?  Seriously.


On Fri, Jun 18, 2021, 6:21 PM Dave Eggleston via <> wrote:
The SPC was a narrow gauge oddity from the start. Engineered more as a standard gauge to move commuters fast up the East Bay and to get tourists into, and long lumber drags out of, Santa Cruz and Felton on standard gauge grades and curvature.

When leased by the SP it was increasingly efficiency-ized; it was a big revenue generator but gauge break was still an issue. Lumber groves expanded, tourist travel increased, east Bay suburbs expanded and the situation just got more bottlenecked. It was a truly odd example and really shoulda started standard gauge but there were a few reasons it didn't. Costs and the lease may have impeded initial SP widening of gauge but by the early '90s it was inevitable and by 1900 things were under way. The effort was only slowed by the quake damage of '06. Already by 1901 cars considered excess by the SP were being transferred from the SPC to handle Tonopah traffic on the Carson & Colorado.

I bet the SP would have standard gauged it by 1886 if they could have...

Dave Eggleston

> On Jun 17, 2021, at 5:37 PM, Nolan Hinshaw <nualain48@...> wrote:

Russ Norris, MMR
Cape Cod, Massachusetts

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