Saturday, June 22, 2013

Evolution of Valley Division Infrastructure Part One Trackwork and Communications

Evolution of Valley Division Infrastructure
Part One Trackwork and Communications

I spent a few pleasant hours yesterday at the California State Railroad Museum Library.  They are moving the bulk of their offsite collection to a new facility and it is not available.  That’s a bummer for me as several of those items contain what should be a treasure trove for carfloats and carfloat ops.  On the other hand, much that is in the closed stacks at the reading room is available and I found a few goodies yesterday, among them the Employee Time Table (ETT) collection.  For those of you who have purchased the reprints published by the ATSFRRH&MS, this collection fills in the gaps between the society books.  It is way too much information for looking at the whole system, you could be there for many months reading through timetables.  But it is a great resource to zero in on a specific point in time, or to understand the evolution of a particular location. 

Today I’ll share my initial observations of how the trackwork evolved over the decade surrounding my modeling year of 1944.  I looked at ETTs from the teens through the early 50’s yesterday.  Even limited to the Valley and SF terminal divisions, there were way too many to copy the entire time table and still have any money left in my 401K.  So I limited myself to the area (Third and Oakland Districts) and time (1940-1950) that I model.  I should have gone a little further though, and gotten a copy of the timetable pages that coincided with the 52 track chart that I have.  Next trip!  Fortunately for my pocketbook, the needed information easily fit on two 11x17 pages from both the pre-44 horseblanket size or post-44 wide size ETTs.  This got me out the door with 36 pages from Valley Div #80 of 14 January 1940 to #97 of 24 September 1950, in exchange for $18 of copy fees.  Thank you Cara and the rest of the CSRM staff!

Why did I pull so many ETTs?  First, the society ETT 1942 reprint is slightly earlier than my modeling era of 1944 and I know that there were several changes to the track chart that I have from 1952.  I just wish that I had remembered to gather all of the editions to that 52 date.  Second, although it ended just before my era, I am quite fond of the semi-streamlined Valley Flier, and am fortunate to have acquired the set the late Ralph Marcus painted and lettered and I wanted info on its schedule.  So, collecting I awent.

A general observation, it didn’t change much, even to the present day.  The alignment is pretty much as built, most of the steel ballasted deck girder bridges are still in use today, along with the Muir trestle and bascule bridges.  They may no longer lift, but the structure is still there for contemporary photography.  So what changes did occur in my era?  The trains and their times, but that is part two.  Water, Communications, Sidings, and a few changes or deletions of Stations from the ETT and that is what follows.

Water:  During the forties, the Santa Fe decommissioned the water facilities at Christie & Glen Frazer and installed new ones at Port Chicago.  Christie has water in #80 and #81 of 1940, but not #81 of 1942.  The change from Glen Frazer to Port Chicago is noted in #94 of 28 November 1947.  That makes it easy for me to model the wooden water tank and trackside water cranes without worrying about anachronisms as I do with the Richmond turntable (lengthened in 44) or the Pinole Depot (burned and rebuilt).  So for my layout, I will have water at Richmond, Glen Frazier, and Antioch.  I will probably also use modelers license to move the Orwood spout to Middle River as I don’t think I want to build two bascule bridges. 

Communications.  The train order office at Muir closed during the decade of interest.  It shows as an office of communication through #87 of 1943, but as a phone booth in #88 of 1945 and removed from the ETT in #96 of April 1950.  With it’s short siding and nearby Glen Frazer, Muir Depot is a candidate for selectively compressing out of my track plan.

Stations:  Many changes of name occurred since initial construction, only one in the 40’s though.  Dwight, at MP 4.5 of the Oakland District, became El Cerrito at the same location with ETT #82 of 1 January 1942.  Dupont and the other changes came later.  #96 of 2 April 1950 eliminated four stations on the Third District. Woodsbro, Muir, Herpoco, and San Pablo did not appear as named stations although their sidings may have remained.  I will have to look at the tracks between stations pages of the ETTs to tell, and I did not capture that data on this trip. 

Sidings:  Changes to where and how long the sidings were was the biggest change observed in the decade of the 40’s.  Even so, the changes were modest and not wide spread.  I think that several of the changes reflect a change in the way the Santa Fe determined siding length rather than a change in the physical plant.  There are three timetables in the period where nearly all of the sidings on the Divisions change length by several cars, but retain the same general proportions as the entries in the preceding version.  These changes occurred with #87 of 1943 where an average of seven cars was removed from the siding capacities of longer sidings.  #90 of July 1946 lengthened nearly all sidings to almost the capacities listed in #86, while #94 of November 1948 shortened them back to the levels of #87.  There is evidence of some physical changes though.  Timetable #82 of January 1942 saw the three sidings of over 120 car length on the third district changed to shorter north and south sidings of the same total length at their respective stations.  Gately of 128 cars became 63N/65S, Christie of 131 cars became 57N/74S, and Glen Frazer of 124 cars became 51N/73S.  I cann’t prove it, but I suspect this was accomplished by installing a cross over near the mid point and swapping designation of main and siding on half the track.  That would have gained a lot of operational flexibility with a minimum of effort for the section forces and would have aided keeping the trains moving as the Pacific war build up was just beginning.  Later, #88 of January 1945 showed sidings were lengthened at Trull 57 to 94 cars long, Knightsen 41 to 90, Sando 67 to 109, Pittsburg 70 to 90, Christie north siding 50 to 94, Luzon 57 to 101 and Rheem 57 to 90.  Changes introduced with #90 include lengthening Gillis from 36 to 100 cars, eliminating the south siding at Christie, and the north siding at Gately while Gately’s south went from 58 to 106 cars. 

The late date of the longer sidings points me toward modeling the track configuration as it was in 1944.  But I am reserving judgment until I’ve analyzed the changes in the scheduled trains, as the siding length affected where they scheduled meets.