TRAVEL TOWN: FREIGHT CARS & CABOOSES
SOUTHERN PACIFIC BOX CAR #1
   BUILT: 1890
   WEIGHT: 8 TONS

    
     In the 1870s and 1880s, when narrow gauge railroads had their flash of popularity, the specially-sized locomotives were manufactured by the same companies which were building standard gauge engines. However, few car building companies were established specifically to build freight and passenger cars for the new, narrow gauge railroads. One such company was Carter Brothers, in
Newark, California, on the east side of the San Francisco Bay. Although not a major manufacturer compared to the establised standard gauge, passenger-car builders; Carter Brothers nonetheless
was the principal builder of narrow gauge in the western Unites States; and additionally, supplied
rolling stock to Mexico and Central America. At the same time as Carter Brothers was manufacturing passenger cars, there were several narrow gauge railroads that built their own cars by imitating the Carter Brothers' designs.
   
     This specific car ran on the slim rails through the desert sands of California and Nevada between Mina and Keeler. During negotiations for the initial right of way of the Carson & Colorado Railroad, a stretch of line was to cross the Schurz Indian Reservation, and in an agreement the railroad supplied transportation to the Schurz residents for free. Like many of the "benefits" awarded the members
of the reservation, this complementary transportation was furnished not within the comforts of train's chair car, but rather atop the coach or box car roof, certainly not the accommodations of the
revenue customer. Later, the Southern Pacific Railroad purchased the C&C; receiving their entire inventory of rolling stock.
   
     What is Track Gauge? The most common type of railroad track consists of two parallel lines of
heavy steel rails, fastened with spikes to wood ties placed in a bed of rock or ballast. The distance between the rails is called the gauge of the railroad. The standard gauge of U.S. railroads is 4 feet
8 inches, though a few railroads in remote or mountainous areas, not requiring much traffic, have been built with a "narrow gauge" of 3 feet or 3 feet. The narrow width of this gauge dictates the reduced scale of the locomotive and the freight cars, directly affecting the strength or tractive
force of the locomotive and limits the size and total load of freight and number of passengers on
the rolling stock. Narrow gauge equipment could readily journey into terrain deemed too difficult for larger scale equipment, by traveling with less weight and having the ability to make tighter curves.
    
    When the present gauge became accepted as standard the broad gauge lines, built with 5 and
6 feet gauges, reduced the width of their tracks, making it possible for the cars and engines of any railroad to run on the tracks of all other railroads. A uniform railroad gauge made it possible for a
person to travel over several railroads without changing cars; when the gauges were different,
freight or passengers had to be transferred from one car to another at every point where there
was a change of gauge. A uniform gauge saved the railroads time and expense.