Kevins’ Komments 09/28/2021

Vintage Steam

Time for some vintage steam loco pics (and maybe a bridge or two thrown in)! This first pic got me started.

This pic of UP #75 with a head of steam got me looking at 19th century locos.  In looking at how the tender is lettered – U.P.R.R. – this tells us that #75 has been restored (?? – see note at the end of this paragraph) to its condition prior to 1880 when the UP Railroad became the UP Railway.  #75 was built by Rogers in 1868.  This era in the 1860’s started with UP naming their initial roster of locos.  When they got to around 14 total locos on the roster in 1866, they changed to a numbering scheme (converted either in 1866 or 1867).  The two original locos, an unnumbered and unnamed loco and the Lt. General Grant, along with three other locos, were delivered in 1864 – prior to the first rail being laid (mid-1865).  Both the unnamed loco and the Lt. General Grant were sold as surplus before they ever ran on UP track! – Hence why they were never included in the numbering scheme when UP converted around 1866-1867.  So #75 was actually the 77th loco owned by the UP.  The website, , provides great info on the history of the UP.  (Note:  This pic looks modern, but as far as I can tell, there’s been no restoration project involving UP #75.  I’m not even sure if it still exists!  So I question whether this photo has been “doctored”.)

My best guess is that the Oakland Shops #7 was a shop goat in the SP facilities at Oakland. There was a lot of railroad activity in Oakland, and I was unable to get any additional information on this locomotive. The open cab makes it appear a bit unique. And best I can tell, it has a firebox. And it has a saddletank for water. But I don’t see a fuel bin. Maybe that’s a fuel tank below the cab deck (??) – more likely it’s the air tank. Check out the telephone poles in the background! Wish I had a date on both the pic and the loco.

I found this vintage photo, but again, with no background info.  I searched on “Saranak Lines” and “Saranak RR”, and the only thing I got was the Adirondack Scenic RR around Saranac Lake.  Judging on the size of the crew, the drivers have to be larger than 72”.  And look at the size of some of the diamond stacks on the locos in the roundhouse!  The houses in the background appear to be quite a bit higher in elevation than the roundhouse.  It appears to be wood fired.  Look at the shape of the sand dome!  …And the Y-spoked drivers!

We discussed camelbacks and the B&O camel locomotives a few versions back. I’m not sure which this loco qualifies as – I suspect a camel loco. I checked the B&O roster to see if this might be a B&O American, but couldn’t find a #122 on their roster.

So…We know this is Central Pacific #1013…with fire equipment (hose reel on the boiler).  #1013 started as CPRR #27, named “Goliath”.  It was built by Danf. In 1867.  It was renumbered to #1013 in 1891.  The mystery in this loco was the builder – “Danf.”  The early CP roster shows locomotives built by Danf. from 1863 to 1876.  I checked my list of American loco builders and it didn’t seem to match with any.  I guess during this era, they could have been a builder in the UK and imported.  Check out the size of the brake shoe on the middle driver.

This photo gives us a great view of a vintage loco coming off a suspension bridge. But, my understanding was that there has only been one railroad suspension bridge ever built! That was on the logging road coming out of Townsend TN. It was a small suspension bridge in the mountains where they pulled logging cars across with a cable – no locos ever crossed this Smokey Mountain “only” railroad suspension bridge ever built. But with a little research, I found info on this bridge! It was across the Niagara River near Niagara falls!

Another pic of the Niagara suspension bridge:

Here is the “swinging” railroad suspension bridge at Elkmont in the Smokey Mountains. Built by the Little River Lumber Company, they would pull log cars up and down the sloped bridge via a steam powered incline engine. The incline engine had a cable hooked to a winch which it would use to pull itself up slopes on tracks. Because of the length of this bridge span. The incline engine needed help getting across the bridge. So they used a block and tackle hooked to a standard steam locomotive. The steam loco would run up and down the tracks on the lower side of the bridge pulling the incline engine across the bridge. But alas – this isn’t the only RR suspension bridge ever built – as I found out today!

It turns out that there were two different suspension bridges built at this location on the Niagara for the railroad to cross the Nagara. (Hence, actually 3 total RR suspension bridges – at least until I find more!) The previous pic was the second bridge built in 1886 and replaced in 1896 (with a non-suspension style bridge). The first of the railroad suspension bridges was completed in 1855. It was designed by…here it comes…John A. Roebling!

For those who are not familiar with John A. Roebling (non-Cincinnatians!), Roebling designed the suspension bridge across the Ohio River in Cincinnati, completed in 1866 (for road traffic). (So the Niagara RR bridge was the predecessor to the Cincinnati Roebling Suspension Bridge.) …And, since we’re off track a bit: See those gold spheres with masts and horizontal crosses at the top of each tower? The original versions were removed in the 1890’s. The bridge went almost 100 years with smaller less-decorative caps. Then, in the early 1990’s, a company called Geiger Construction Products – owned by my dad, Jerome Geiger – was hired to install the replacement caps – as seen here. Each of the replacements were lifted into place by a helicopter – the caps weighed over a ton apiece. When trying to decide how they would strap the caps to the helicopter to be lifted, the artist who applied all of the gold leaf, began to become concerned. They ended up running a truck up to Macy’s in downtown Cincinnati to pick up a couple dozen pillows to use as pads between the straps and the gold leaf. I was lucky enough to watch the half day show as these caps were lifted, placed, and fastened down. The crew that placed these were all Ironworkers from the local hall.

And of course, John A. Roebling used the Cincinnati Roebling bridge as a model for his greatest suspension bridge – the Brooklyn Bridge in NY, completed in 1883.  Roebling died in 1867, shortly after the Cincinnati bridge was opened, but long before the Brooklyn bridge was completed.  Here’s a great website about the Niagara bridges, Roebling, and some other bridge designers: .

…Back to railroads…I found another great website if you’re interested in the Florida Southern Railway: .  Here is FSRy’s #8, the Sherman Conant.  It was built by the Rhode Island Locomotive Works in 1884.  This is a builders photo that was published noting that the locomotive was built per order – Rumor was that they didn’t want credit for leaving off the sand dome!  The drivers were sanded from the small boxes under the sideboards, just in front of the first driver.

And while we’re down south, let’s get one last vintage shot of an early southern steam loco. This is one of North Carolina RR’s early locos. The railroad was owned by the state and began construction in 1851. Unfortunately, like several of the pics in this collection, I have no information about this loco.

We (as model railroaders) tend to be more conscious of 20th century railroading.  There initially appears to be so much more diversity and growth in the first 50 years of the 20th century.  And then there is stronger understanding of the adaptations the railroads made as road and air transportation took their share of the market.  But the founding and developmental years of railroading took place in the 19th century.  There’s so much out there that can be explored.



Total Page Visits: 474 - Today Page Visits: 1

2 thoughts on “Kevins’ Komments 09/28/2021

  1. From: Bob Bartizek

    I really enjoy these posts from Kevin. The photo of UP #75 is definitely an old photo that has been partially colorized. Note that some but not all of the pilot wheels in the foreground have been done, part of the locomotive pilot is not done, the firebox beneath and between the drivers is not done, etc. The tender lettering might or might not be UPRR in the original photo.

    Being from New England, I can shed some light on the SARANAK locomotive. I thought it might be from Massachusetts and a little digging found an article by John H White, Jr. in the Summer 1986 issue of Invention & Technology magazine. The photo is from 1865 and here is a link to the article:

    Since the article describes many things not seen in the photo Kevin provided, I must conclude that Kevin’s photo was cropped from a larger original.


  2. A little background, I think, Mr. White was curator at the Smithsonian, retired professor at Miami U, and member of the Cincinnati RR Club.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.