Friday, April 23, 2010

30" Gauge?

I've just started sorting through my extensive photograph/slide collection, most taken during my younger industrial archeology years.  These photos and slides ended up in a few boxes in my old third floor office -  after moving my office and shop to a commercial building in a local industrial park, my wife sort of took over the third floor and buried my research files under layers of clothing, shoes, pocketbooks, and other female errata.    Growing concerned that the third floor of our house would collapse onto the second floor and then onto the first, we finally got around to jointly cleaning the floor (I also had a half built On30 shelf layout up there too)  Well, it looks great now and I think we both finally kicked our pack rat ways, trashing a ton of useless stuff, and finding a half a ton of cool stuff - old research files/photos/maps,..etc.
I have to start aggressively scanning my photos and slides, and hopefully posting them online for anyone to see/use.  Starting on this trail are a few historic photos from the United States Metals plant in Carteret, NJ.  Taken in the early 1900's both show elements of the intra-plant narrow gauge system - one taken of the wharf, loading lighterage barges with copper ingots, and the other of the yard.    The reason I'm posting these pictures is to illustrate the gauge - 30" as in HOn30 or On30.  Over the years I've heard more than one person refer to this gauge as a compromise between 2' and 3',  made up to suit the constraints of either n or ho scale track.   The fact is, it wasn't an uncommon gauge in industrial situations.  To be sure, three foot was probably the most common, but on the NJ waterfront, host to maybe as many as a 100 or more industrial and short line narrow gauge lines, 30" was the second most common.   

So, be proud HO or O n30 folks and remember, somewhere between Colorado and Maine, there exists the land of New Jersey and their 30" railroads.  

Down the road a bit (after I get a slide scanner), I'm going to mix things up a bit more and talk about the narrow gauge railroad for the Crucible Steel Works in Newark, NJ - the OUTSIDE FLANGED railroad.  (Yes, the wheels are on backwards)

A quick edit - Right now a bunch of treasure hunters are using sonar to look for a sunken barge of silver ingots from another copper plant just down the Arthur Kill from the one in the photos. Forget Spanish gold in New Jersey, we have the lost treasures of the American Smelting and Refining Company.  Good luck. 

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