Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum Home        Ghost Train Journal Back Issues

Ghost Train Journal logo
Published Monthly by the CONNECTICUT EASTERN CHAPTER of the N.R.H.S., Inc.
Jeffrey Ricard, Editor  Volume 8, Number 1, January 2000 
On the Editors Desk .....
I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday season, and as you can see we are all still here and not much has changed in the world with the
arrival of the year 2000.  The sky is still blue and the oceans haven't dried up.  (However the weather does seem to be a bit warm for this time
of year.)
Membership Renewals
Just a reminder that membership renewals are now considered overdue.  If you have not sent in your dues please do so today!   This will be your last issue of The Ghost Train Journal.  If you have not received your dues notice,  please contact Howard Bidwell at 742-9235 ASAP.  But change has come to the chapter.  1999 saw the acquisition of several new pieces of rolling stock, the exhibit at the Windham Textile Museum, acquisition of funding for building the roundhouse, expansion of our train show from one to two a year, moving of the Groton Freight House to the rear of the museum on its permanent foundations, co-sponsoring a Vermont rail excursion and so much more.

Now as we enter 2000 we hope to continue this trend.  Our goals are to have the foundations installed for the Willimantic Section House and
Chaplin Station and move these buildings to their permanent location.  We also plan on installing the underground conduit needed for the electricity and hope to have the track work done to make the connection to the Hartford Main.  On our wish list , we would like to have the
Turntable Bridge installed.

Some pretty steep goals, but with the help of the Army we think these could be accomplished.  As always we need all the help we can get.

The newsletter will also have a change starting in February.   I will be turning the production of the newsletter over to Art Schnabel and Mark Granville.  I have edited The Ghost Train Journal for the last eight years and believe that it is time for some fresh and new ideas.  Please continue to send your suggestions and stories to our post office box, and remember you can always read the journal on our web site.

Treasurer's Summary Report - December
Income received for the month of December was $4905.96 with most of the income in memberships and contributions.  Expenses totaled $2365.24 with most going to National Dues and rental expenses.  Current chapter
balance of $9838.99.   -Jeff Laverty

Welcome to the Chapter!
New members voted into the chapter at the December meeting were Larry Briggs of Bolton, James Marshall of Willimantic and Paul Hesketh of Westwood, MA.  Welcome new members!!

Do you know your railroad facts?

Continuing from last month here are some more of the Association of American Railroads Quiz book facts from 1948.

11.  When were United States mails first carried by rail?  The first known instance of the United States mail being transported by rail occurred on the south Carolina Railroad, extending westward from Charleston, South Carolina, in November, 1831. 

On or about January 1, 1832, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad began carrying mail between
Baltimore and Frederick, MD. Shortly after the opening of the latter railroad between Baltimore and Washington in 1835, a car was fitted with a compartment for carrying United States mails between the two cities.

By 1840 railroads had begun to provide special space and facilities for the handling of mail en route and the American Railroad Journal reported in 1845 that they were furnishing space "expressly fitted up for the accommodation of the mail, and for the assortment of letters and papers on the road."

A car equipped for sorting mail en route, as an experimental service designed to speed up the overland mail, was operated on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad (now part of the Burlington) in 1862.  On August 28, 1864, the first permanent Railway Post Office car for picking up, sorting and distributing mail en route was placed in operation by the Chicago and North Western on a run from Chicago to Clinton, Iowa.

13 .  What was the origin of the cowcatcher? 
This strictly American feature was the invention of Isaac Dripps, a young mechanical engineer employed by the Camden & Amboy Railroad in New Jersey (now part of the Pennsylvania Railroad) in the early 1830's.  So many cows trespassed upon the railroad that Dripps decided to install on the front end of the locomotive a small truck supporting two iron spears.  The Dripps device was effective, bit it was fatal to the cows.  To avoid damage suites, he substituted a crosswise bar much like the present-day bumper on an automobile, and from this evolved the present V-shaped cowcatcher.

14.  What is the story of the headlight? 
In the early days of railroading, trains ran only in daylight hours, and headlights were unknown.  As the railroads developed, however, night operations became increasingly necessary, and inventive minds went to work to devise ways of illuminating the track ahead.  The first crude step was taken under the direction of Horatio Allen, then chief engineer of the South Carolina Railroad.  He attached a small flatcar or the front of the locomotive, and covered the floor of the car with a heavy layer of sand on which he kept a bonfire of pine knots.

In other instances, large candles protected by glass cases, fitted with reflectors, were used.  Whale oil was extensively used in the 1840's and 1850's.  In 1859, kerosene lamps took the place of candles and whale-oil lamps.  Then came gas lights, fed from storage tanks, and finally, in 1881 electricity.

Recent developments include the figure eight oscillating headlight, first used on the Chicago & North Western in 1936.  This was followed in 1944 by an oscillating headlight that would flash either a red or white light, whichever the engineer desired for safety purposes.  In June, 1946, powerful sealed-beam headlights were first applied to locomotives of the New York Central Railroad.

16.  W at was the origin of railway express service in America? 
William Harnden, early passenger train conductor, after a few years in the service of the Boston & Worcester Railroad (now a part of the New York Central) conceived the idea of opening a regular express service for banking houses, merchants and other business interests in New York and Boston.  An advertisement of February 23, 1839, in the Boston newspapers announced his "Boston and New York Express Package Car."  He entered into a contract with the Boston & Providence Railroad (now part of the New York, New Haven & Hartford) and a steamship company plying between New York and Providence, to carry his business over their lines.

Starting on March 4, 1839, with a large carpetbag, Harnden, the first to carry express between cities as far apart as New York and Boston, traveled regularly between these two points.  His business grew rapidly.  A special package car was placed in service; offices were opened in New York and Boston; assistants were employed; and the service was extended to Philadelphia and other cities.

Among other early express ventures were those of Henry Wells and William Fargo, operating to the West, Alvin Adams, operating to the South and Earle & Prew in New England.

Picture from Ribbon Rail Productions

Previous Issue     Top     Next Issue

Copyright ©2000 Connecticut Eastern Chapter, National Railway Historical Society Janyart 2000.