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Historical US rail transport


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Here are a few pictures from today's trip/


Crossing gate used on State roads


Crossing used on  city streets (No gates)


Old style crossing used at Promontory (No Lights)


Old grade at promontory (curves across the valley to stay within 1.5% grade.


another view of grade.

to be continued....


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I went out to photograph an old spike maul (hammer)


Here is the result


ever wonder how and why steam locomotives shoot steam out the sides as they start?


there are valves they open at the bottom of the cylinder to start it moving


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Here is a track switch out at Promontory, Utah.  


This is the frog end of the switch


Closer to the points now.


Looking at the points end of the switch

Notice the ends are not pointed.  No part of the double rail section moves.


The Control arm and signal.  It's just a locking lever with a signal bar on top



The rail marked with arrows moves.   It floats (not spiked down) and has spacers to keep the rails the correct distance apart.

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This is the type of switch that would have been used in 1869 as it required only 2 rails to be curved, no cutting or sharpening of points, and 2 guard rails and a frog.  With a locking control bar for the slide, switch would have to be set each direction, but simplicity itself.

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Just now, Neo said:

Hi Curt,

I've merged some of your topics about your traveling to improve the overview of the forums.

Kind regards,


Thanks, I should have thought of that.  BTW: Cole (the 119 Engineer) really liked MBS.


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Hello, Curt,
thank you for these interesting pictures, which reveal historical solutions for the installation of switches. These give me a new perspective on the technical art of engineering that was possible in the past - simple but accurate.
I am enthusiastic about the ingenuity of the former railway engineers,
many greetings from

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An Old Style Buffer Stop.  Not to stop a runaway Locomotive, but a loose Freight car.


Historic grade with a 4 KM radius curve, necessary to obtain a grade of less than 2%.  Old locomotives could not handle a grade of 2% or more.


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