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California \ San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada Railroad \ Combine #1010 - A History

Southern Pacific Combine #1010.

The history of a single California narrow gauge passenger car.

By Randy Hees.

As the title implies this is the history of a single small narrow gauge railroad passenger car. In many ways car 1010 was unique, She was smaller than most other cars, her roof was of a differ-ent design, but most importantly she survived. At the same time 1010 was typical of any of maybe 300 narrow gauge passenger cars used in California. Only 20 or so survive today.

A product of local craftsmen, Car 1010 was built in 1882 in the Woodbridge shops of the San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada Railroad. Originally painted bright blue, she was probably first num-bered 2, but that cannot be proven. She was the first "passenger" car on the railroad... Earlier passengers had been accommodated in a Carter Brothers built caboose, or on flatcars equipped with benches.

Surprisingly the cash books of the railroad survive. From these and other sources we can recon-struct how both the railroad and the car was built. Early entries show the purchase of cars and supplies from the Carter Brothers, including flatcars originally $425.00 each, later $410.00 each, Also included were boxcars, pump cars and push cars. With the cars were included payments to the Carters for replacement parts such as links, pins and journal brasses, and finally a caboose on September 16, 1882 for $1,800.00.

With the purchase of the caboose, something changed.... the railroad stopped relying on the Carters for their railroad supplies. What prompted this change is unknown, but the public evi-dence of this change was a newspaper article which appeared in the Valley Review on December 13, 1882.

... A little further we came to the Railroad depot and found no one at home. Through the kindness of W. P. Johnson we were shown through the shop and explained the use of the various tools. There were two engines in the shop, one under repairs, the other had just returned from a trip; one passenger coach awaiting the finishing touch. Outside were five box cars just completed and two more about finished. Being noon we retraced our steps to the Plummer House and partook of a turkey dinner and snoozed the balance of the afternoon.

The men of the SJ&SN were in the car building business! In addition to the car we call 1010, 8 other cars, seven boxcars and a baggage car, were constructed in the Woodbridge shops, as well as three pump cars and two push cars.

Imagine yourself in late 1882, you are working in the shops of the SJ&SN in Woodbridge. The directors of the railroad want you to build seven more cars for the newly opened railroad, 5 box-cars, a baggage car and a coach. Until now cars have been purchased from the Carter Bros. of Newark. How do you start, where do you get the materials? The SJ&SN started by buying the parts and materials they needed in San Francisco. From hardware dealer Huntington Hopkins & Co. came 40 wheel sets and 3 car lamps. McCormick Lewis & Co., also known as the Industrial Foundry, supplied castings. This is the same firm which had supplied car castings for Thomas Carter when he built cars for the North Pacific Coast seven years earlier. Other castings came from Joshua Hendy (426 lb. of car parts for $166.00) and Greenberg & Co., supplier of brass castings.

Greenburg & Co.'s sale of journal brasses offers an interesting comparison between Carter and direct buying.... on June 5th the Carters had sold the railroad journal brasses for $1.25 each, but when purchased directly from Greenburg & Co. in December, the cost was only $1.15 each, suggesting that the Carter Brothers were marking up the parts they sold about 10%.

Springs came from both the French Spring Co. of Pittsburgh, PA (the same people who made the springs used in our flatcar 1725), and Betts Spring Co. (still in business in San Leandro). Paint and glass was supplied by Whittier & Fuller Co., later known as Fuller-O'Brien.

The wood came from a wide variety of vendors, each with their own specialty. From Renton, Holmes & Co. also known as Port Blakley Mills came car lumber, Douglas Fir, or as it was then known, Oregon Pine. Port Blakley would later be a Carter customer, buying standard gauge flat and box cars as well as a combine. From A M Simpson & Bros. came pine and redwood for sid-ing and other exterior work. Finally the ash and oak came from Waterhouse & Lester, a supplier of hardwood lumber for carriage builders.

The suppliers of millwork, a special class of wood work are also called out in the cash books as well. Window sash from E H Kittredge & Co., car roofing from John Hammond, including charges for mill work, packing and drayage. This same roofing is still found inside car 1010 to-day. (Hammond would later in 1887 build the Oakland Railroad horse car and Pajaro Valley box car both owned the SPCRR). Finally the wooden blinds for the car came from the Carter Bros. for $2.00 each. The blinds were replaced later by shades, so no Carter parts are found on 1010 today.

The car's construction is interesting; car 1010 did not follow typical passenger car design. Most passenger cars had lighter frames than freight cars, they were to be used in shorter trains, so train forces were less, the load much less (a car load of people weighs less than a car load of wheat) and the sides of the car incorporated a truss, much like a bridge, to help carry the cars weight. Car 1010 on the other hand is more of a shed on a flatcar. The under frame of 1010 closely fol-lows the design of a 10-ton Carter flatcar, including sill size, joint and lateral truss rods using the elliptical washer. The walls when built had little to structure to contribute to the cars strength, and the roof is like no other car built in the same era. Later re-buildings would add much strength to the walls, making 1010 a very strong car, and probably aiding in its long term surviv-al.

The car's first use warranted note in the newspaper, "Last Saturday the S. J. & S. N. R. R. put on another passenger car, one of their own manufacture, which speaks well for the workmen now employed by them." (The Valley Review, January 3, 1883). Many details are still unknown, paint evidence suggests it was originally painted bright blue and while records don't report a number or name number 2 is likely. There survives one description of the interior as originally built. ... I was so exhilarated when I first stepped into the Valley Springs train that I cared little what the Milton train was like. The little passenger car was so pretty, I thought: it had one long seat on each side, upholstered in red plush which I knew must be very expensive, giving me the feeling of traveling in grandeur. The only other ornament was a small water tank in one corner with a public dipper hanging near by. (Fading Ghost -- Old Railroads by Elizabeth Kaler Memories of the Mother Lode, D.C. Demarest)

The car as built in 1882 was very different than the car found at Ardenwood today. First of all it was a coach, not a combine. Inside there was a single open compartment. The stove was located in the corner of what is today the baggage compartment. There were no roof vents, so we can only imagine what riding in the car in the summer heat must have been like. Finally both end walls featured windows on each side of the doors.

So the car started what would be just over 20 years of service on the rails of the SJ&SN, but in 1886, with the exit of Birdsall, the president and chief investor, as a result of a personal crisis, re-sulted in the railroads sale to the Southern Pacific. The SP folded the SJ&SN into its "Northern Railway Co." Changes included renumbering the equipment (this is when the car became 1010) along with a change in passenger car paint color to dark "Pullman" green. One additional bag-gage car was shipped in from the SP's Oregonian Railroad, along with 2 more locomotives. The SP changed more on car 1010 than just the paint color & number, by the mid 1890's the first steps toward conversion to a combine had been made. One of the two earliest photos we have of the car shows the stove has now been moved to the center of the car and two roof vents have been installed over what is today the passenger compartment. The photo also clearly shows all the window blinds closed in what may already be the baggage compartment. It is likely the inte-rior wall is already in place. During restoration of the car we did find this notation written in pencil on one of interior the framing members " SP Co. Lodi " along with a name we have yet to decipher, proving that at least this part of the conversion took place on what had once been the SJ&SN.

With the conversion of SJ&SN line to standard gauge on Aug. 31, 1904, the SP found itself with a collection of narrow gauge locomotives and cars in Lodi, with nothing to do. The freight cars were sent to the Nevada & California, but the passenger cars including car 1010 went to the South Pacific Coast. It is likely that it was during the transfer to the SPC that the car was rebuilt into the combine with baggage doors, we see it today. There are no photos of the car on the SJ&SN as a combine, and the only known photo of the car on the SPC shows the baggage doors. The car would have been out of place on the SPC, only 28' long, it was the smallest passenger car on the line. It is likely the only reason it was sent here was the extreme shortage of passenger cars caused by the Alameda mole fire 18 months before, which had destroyed 32 cars. But the line still had 5 combines after the fire, plus at least 4 small combines in service as cabooses and along with 1010 came Carter built combine 1009, giving the SPC a total of 11 combines, for only 34 coaches. Car 1010 was probably used as a caboose on the SPC even though it was recorded as a combine in the Southern Pacific records.

This surplus of combines must have prompted the almost immediate transfer to the Nevada & California Railroad owned by the SP. Newspaper reports have the car arriving in Reno in early 1905, after less than six months on the SPC. The transfer to The N&C was not without its ex-citement. 1010 was moved to Nevada on standard gauge trucks. While sitting in the yards in Reno awaiting transfer to the Virginia & Truckee for movement to the narrow gauge connection at Mound House there was an "incident."

TRAIN CRASHES INTO OPEN SWITCH Many Lives Imperiled and Valuable Property Destroyed Because a Switchman on the V.&T. Made a Blunder:

A misplaced switch caused a whole lot of damage in Reno yards last evening. The incoming Vir-ginia & Truckee express tried to run up to the station on a blind siding, but concluded to retrace its steps after it had lost a headlight and some other trimmings and had also knocked the ever lasting daylights out of an express car and punched a big hole into a new C.&C. passenger coach........ The engine ploughed in to express car #1 of the V.&T. and sent the trucks out from under it, scraping it off the end of track and across the cinders to another track where passenger car No.1010 fresh with paint was perched on broad gauge trucks awaiting its departure for the C.&C. No. 1010 must return to the shops for a considerable period before it will carry any prospective millionaires to the new camps. There is a ten-foot hole in the side of the car and it is listed con-siderably to starboard....

For the first year in Nevada the car was still "owned" by the SPC, but apparently leased to the C&C. The car retained its Southern Pacific lettering, until formally sold to the N&C on July 17, 1906. It was then became Nevada & California 16. Used on the narrow gauge lines out of Mina Nevada, the car was apparently well maintained, being repainted at least twice before it was de-clared "worn out" and retired on December 23, 1913. The car was "vacated" from the roster. The Southern Pacific's ledgers coldly described the dismantling of the car, and the final financial accounting. At the end the car was valued at $1,000.00. The railroad salvaged $80.84 worth of scrap, charged $20.00 to depreciation, $659.16 against the operating department, and $240.00 against an unknown account "PL."

1010 in Laws, Ca. Circa 1985.
Car 1010 Rests In Laws, California Shortly Before Moving To Ardenwood.
John Rosser Photograph.
1010's body survived in "car town," the railroad workers neighborhood in Mina, Nevada. In later years the car was used as an apartment by brakemen working the Hathorne/Mina "turn". The train would run south one day then north the next, and the crew needed a place to stay over night. Apparently 1010 was kind of a bachelor apartment, being sold to new crew members as assignments changed. By the late 1950's times changed, and there were no more brakemen waiting to use the car as a layover apartment. The car was sold, first to a antique dealer in Wadsworth Nevada, then to Richard Datin in 1966, who moved the car to Laws, CA in 1969. In 1989 the car body was purchased by the SPCRR. In 1990 the car was moved to Ardenwood farm, in 1990 bringing to a close this history, and starting a new story of restoration and preservation.

California \ San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada Railroad \ Combine #1010 - A History
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