What if: More dual gauge railroads in America?


Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

OldReliable1862

Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Messages
734
Location
Georgia
Link for those wondering what I'm talking about:
Considering how dual gauge railways can join lines of different gauges, could this be used to create a more unified American rail network in the pre-Civil War period and the years following it? In a surviving CSA where the economy isn't quite a disaster, could this be a good workaround for their numerous gauges?
 
Last edited:

RebelWeber

Private
Joined
Jul 15, 2018
Messages
172
Location
Pittsgrove,NJ
I had the opportunity to fire No 16 and No 17 ( narrow gauge mikados ) at the East Broad Top Railway back in 1997 and 1998.

That truly helped me understand the gauge problem in the south during the war and I think I can say with no real argument that the gauge difference was a major factor in the losing of the war for the confederacy.
 

rebelatsea

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 30, 2013
Messages
4,362
Location
Kent ,England.
Putting my railroad hat on dual gauging can be made to work well BUT the extra complications of dual gauge switches and crossings need a very high standard of maintenance. There are many places remaining, mostly in Eastern Europe where this can be seen, more particularly now on tramways and LRT. On railways proper most, if not closing are being regauged to either standard, or which ever is the prevailing national narrow gauge, predominantly but not exclusively metre.
 

OldReliable1862

Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Messages
734
Location
Georgia
At this time, the most notable example of dual gauge would the Great Western Railway, as this was the height of the "Gauge Wars". Brunel's original broad gauge was gradually phased out by standard, with mixed gauge allowing breaks of gauge to be avoided. The GWR (among others, including the LSWR) only used mixed gauge after they acquired railways of a different gauge - perhaps this could happen in the South if similar amalgamations happen? It would need to happen before the war, as once it starts, I doubt the Confederate government will be able to do it.
 
Last edited:

Sbc

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Messages
1,167
Location
Georgia
At this time, the most notable example of dual gauge would the Great Western Railway, as this was the height of the "Gauge Wars". Brunel's original broad gauge was gradually phased out by standard, with mixed gauge allowing breaks of gauge to be avoided. The GWR (among others, including the LSWR) only used mixed gauge after they acquired railways of a different gauge - perhaps this could happen in the South if similar amalgamations happen? It would need to happen before the war, as once it starts, I doubt the Confederate government will be able to do it.
"The day the gauge changed"
 
Last edited:

DaveBrt

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Messages
2,417
Location
Charlotte, NC
Where do you think the gauge issue was a war-effecting problem? Every Road outside of North Carolina and Virginia were the same gauge (with the exception of the Montgomery & West Point RR). The only places 2 gauges met were in Charlotte, at Wilmington (though a missing bridge was needed to actually let the roads meet), at Greensboro (when the Piedmont RR was completed in the summer of 1864), and at Lynchburg (though I have never seen that point as affecting anything).

Far more important was the lack of rolling stock, repair parts, rails and mechanics.
 

OldReliable1862

Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Messages
734
Location
Georgia
Where do you think the gauge issue was a war-effecting problem? Every Road outside of North Carolina and Virginia were the same gauge (with the exception of the Montgomery & West Point RR). The only places 2 gauges met were in Charlotte, at Wilmington (though a missing bridge was needed to actually let the roads meet), at Greensboro (when the Piedmont RR was completed in the summer of 1864), and at Lynchburg (though I have never seen that point as affecting anything).

Far more important was the lack of rolling stock, repair parts, rails and mechanics.
I completely agree, the latter issues you raised were much more of a problem for the South, my intention was only to ask how this could have the antebellum and wartime South. As for where this would have truly had an impact on the course of the war, I'm not sure there are any examples.
 

USS ALASKA

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Mar 16, 2016
Messages
4,462
That truly helped me understand the gauge problem in the south during the war and I think I can say with no real argument that the gauge difference was a major factor in the losing of the war for the confederacy.
Every Road outside of North Carolina and Virginia were the same gauge (with the exception of the Montgomery & West Point RR). The only places 2 gauges met were in Charlotte, at Wilmington (though a missing bridge was needed to actually let the roads meet), at Greensboro (when the Piedmont RR was completed in the summer of 1864), and at Lynchburg (though I have never seen that point as affecting anything).
Confederate_Railroad_Map.jpg


http://www.csa-railroads.com/

Another issue with a third rail system is that you just increased your capitol outlay for rails and all their accoutrements by 50%. You just increased your expenses for maintenance supplies and maintainers. Unless it is a wartime expediency where price-is-no-object-just-win-the-war, this is a no-go for the majority of American RRs. Investors would revolt. And that is no way to run a railroad...(bad pun intended)
59

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 
Last edited:

USS ALASKA

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Mar 16, 2016
Messages
4,462
That truly helped me understand the gauge problem in the south during the war and I think I can say with no real argument that the gauge difference was a major factor in the losing of the war for the confederacy.
The North had more different gauges than the South had. In fact...

'Within the South, the state of North Carolina prescribed by law a gauge of 4 feet 8 1/2 inches...'

http://southern.railfan.net/ties/1966/66-8/gauge.html
100

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 
Last edited:

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Top