Basic Railroad Info Please!

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#1
Hello!!

My name is Stephanie and I am currently an intern at a Wisconsin historical museum. I am working on a railroad exhibit. My problem, however, is that I do not know the slightest thing about railroads. I was hoping some of you could give me a hand!

I'm sorry if these are kinda stupid questions, but here goes

Were passengers and goods transported on the same train? Or were there separate routes for each?

I'm looking into the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad company. Did they do mostly passenger transport, or goods as well? If so, where could I find information on what kind of goods they transported?

Finally, I am working off of a watchman's tower and cannot find information on the valves/levers used to open and close the gate. Where could I find information so we can attempt to recreate the valves inside the tower?

Thank you so much! :)
 

kenw

5th Generation Texian
#2
there are no stupid questions, Stephanie, we'll help all we can. Congrats on the internship, there's lots of us who might envy you!

I can help a little:

1) Were passengers and goods transported on the same train? Or were there separate routes for each?

usually not, while freight trains (goods) and passenger trains usually rode on the same tracks, most of the time they were carried on separate trains. Usually this was due to the fact that passenger traffic was a higher priority (the opposite is largely true today) and freight could be moved onto a siding to let a passenger pass.

Some smaller traffic routes would combine passenger and freight cars on to one train, but these were slow and not too common.


I'm sure some of the more C&NW-expert members will chime in on the rest of the questions.

Also, look up some C&NW historical societies, they have a ton of info. C&NW is now owned by Union Pacific, so there may be some links to be found via UP societies or even their corporate site (UPRR.com).

On the tower questions, look into 'interlocking' towers specifically.

best of luck.
 
#3
I'm sorry if these are kinda stupid questions, but here goes

Were passengers and goods transported on the same train? Or were there separate routes for each?
First there aren't any stupid questions. There are only things you haven't learned yet.

In the earliest days of railroading, passengers and freight were on the same train. They were called mixed trains. Once the automobile became more common and road construction really got going passenger travel by train began to decline. Airlines helped it decline even more. Some routes had became freight only. Others, especially between large cities, carried both freight and passengers in separate trains. Freight eventually become the predominant cargo and the railroads wanted to get rid of the passenger trains. In 1970 Amtrak was formed to take over the passenger service. On most routes Amtrak shares the rails with freight trains.
 
#4
Were passengers and goods transported on the same train? Or were there separate routes for each?

I'm looking into the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad company. Did they do mostly passenger transport, or goods as well? If so, where could I find information on what kind of goods they transported?
This is the place for the important distinction between a train and a railroad. A train was and is usually all passenger or all freight. Prior to the 1970s, most railroads operated both freight and passenger trains.
 
#5
lets not forget the REA that moved stuff via passenger trains in their equipment "express cars" from city to city ,think UPS on rails, thay even would deliver you stuff to the house via horse and wagon or in later days truck or van from the local railroad station

Like in the song from the MUSIC MAN
 
#8
Finally, I am working off of a watchman's tower and cannot find information on the valves/levers used to open and close the gate. Where could I find information so we can attempt to recreate the valves inside the tower?
Now are you speaking of a "gateman's tower" as some railroads called them the type that was used at railroad crossings? like in this picture?
 
#10
as for the controls some railroads used compressed air so valves like was used on car lifts or metal rods running underground in pipes conected to a handle in the tower would do or in some places the "gateman would after hearing a train blow forthe crossing he would run down the stairs and close the gates by hand
 





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