NW-Mailing-List Digest, Vol 162, Issue 11

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Wed Aug 1 12:24:56 EDT 2018

Change of Gauge
Stephen Warren,

When I was researching the change of gauge I found that The Richmond Dispatch, of May 30, 1886, had a lengthy and detailed description of the pending change and how it would be accomplished by Robin Adair. It can be accessed through chroniclingamerica.gov (free site). The major change was the 400 miles from Norfolk to Bristol. It was broken into six mile segments in the mountains and ten men on the level with 29 men per crew and the south rail was moved inward. The job took 1,800 men and was to be completed in 13 hours. The New-River branch was changed the Saturday before the main route was and the City Point branch was done the day after the main route.

The Richmond Dispatch carried short article on May 1, 6 and 25 but they have noting the May 30th doesn't have.

Peter R. R. Getz

Date: Fri, 6 Jul 2018 19:27:42 -0400
From: NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
To: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Subject: Conversion to Standard Gauge
Message-ID: <mailman.3038.1530919767.6606.nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
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Came across this recently, and thought it might generate some comments or
observations. I've heard a few folks discussing this at the Archives in the
past, and it's helpful to see it in writing. Also, a search on standard
gauge railroading indicates that all the 5' rail in the South was converted
over two days at the end of May, 1886. Maybe this is something that had
been discussed among railways a year or so out? This is from "The
Virginias. A Mining, Industrial and Scientific Journal;" edited by Jed.
Hotchkiss; Sept. 1885 edition:
The Lynchburg Virginian reports that on the 1st of next May the broad gauge
of the Norfolk & Western will be changed to the standard gauge by laying
another rail from Norfolk to Bristol, and that they will leave the third
rail until they can get all the engines from the shops running trains on
both the narrow and broad gauges. They have ordered 9 new engines from the
Roanoke Machine Works and 10 from the Baldwin works. The work of changing
all the cars will be done in Roanoke. It is said that there are 110 old
style engines that will be rendered comparatively worthless by the change.

This change of gauge will doubtless be made, but we question the retention
of the third rail and the running of trains on both gauges. The present
gauge as now used by most railways is 4' 9", not 4' 8.5" as formerly, so
there would but 3" between the rails, a space that will hardly admit the
laying of any ordinary rail
Stephen Warren, Roanoke
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