Wagon vs Narrow Gauge… comparative cost

North American Narrow Gauge; West of the Rockies (including Canada; Mexico).
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Randy Hees
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Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 7:07 pm

Wagon vs Narrow Gauge… comparative cost

Post by Randy Hees » Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:08 pm

I have been rereading Myrick, as I continue to research the borax railroads and “20 mule teams” of California and Nevada, and encountered an interesting tidbit regarding the Waterloo Mining Railroad (aka Oro Grande Mining Railroad or occasionally the “Calico Railroad” ) running between Daggett and Calico…
It isn’t exactly borax, instead silver but it includes 20 mules and is in a borax mining area…

Myrick reports that originally, the silver ore was hauled the 7 miles (down hill) from Calico to the stamp mill near Daggett in a “train” of 3 wagons hauled by 20 mules carrying 60 tons (This would be 20 tons per wagon which seems high… I would expect more like 10 tons per wagon at most, with as little as 6 tons more likely…) They had two teams and two sets of wagons… Considering the distance, I would expect a round trip per team and wagon per day, so it may be 10 tons per wagon, 30 tons per three wagon, 20 mule set, and 60 tons for the system per day feeding a 15 stamp mill (4 tons of ore per stamp which seems high compared to later reports)
Cost for transport via this system is reported to be $2.50 per ton.

By late 1888 a narrow gauge railroad had been built… using 4 wheel cars and a couple of Porter built tank engines, an 0-4-0t and a 0-6-0t… Costs for transportation dropped to 7 cents per ton. By 1891 the railroad is reported to be hauling about 150 tons per day (said to be the capacity of the 75 stamp mill, which equates to 2 tons of ore per stamp)

The overwhelming difference in both cost and capability is significant.

Back to the wagons… I suspect that the two sets of wagons are only hauling 30 tons per day, which would be 15 tons per set, or 5 tons per wagon… That would be $75.00 per day for transportation… Each 3 wagon set would need 3 men, local wages seem to be $3.50 per day, so there would be a payroll of about $39.00 per day, leaving about $30.00 for other expenses… When you look at the capacity of similar wagons, the capacity of a stamp mill, per stamp, and the economics (reported cost per ton and wage rates) the numbers start to make sense…

If you want to follow along, this is from Myrick's Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California, Vol 2, pages 814 - 823 in my Howell North editions...

Randy
Randy Hees

Director, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City
Railway Preservation News http://www.rypn.org
Chasing old trains where ever I may find them...
http://randyhees.blogspot.com/

GregMaxwell
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Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:31 am

Re: Wagon vs Narrow Gauge… comparative cost

Post by GregMaxwell » Sat Apr 13, 2013 9:28 am

A few facts and figures from the Eureka & Palisade's freighting division. Capacity; as a rule one big mule could pull one ton of freight. Therefor, a 24 mule team could haul 24 tons, net. Added to this was the tare weight of the four freight wagons plus a commissary wagon loaded with supplies. Freight (one way) between Tybo and Eureka was $14 per ton and each leg of the trip would take from 12 to 14 days. The two man crew consisted of a teamster making $4.60 per day and a swamper making $3.00 per day, $7.60 total per day. So, a thirteen day return trip hauling 24 tons of base bullion between Tybo and Eureka would cost the E&P about $99 in wages against $336 in revenue. When the roads were passable the E&P averaged about 25 teams of different sizes to be on the road at any given time. Added to the 50 men on the road were 20 more hostlers, blacksmiths, carpenters and laborers earning between $3 and $3.50 per day needed to keep the operation going. The E&P's total capital investment in its freighting division was reported to be $200,000 in livestock, rolling stock, shops, stations and the 1,000 acre hay farm needed winter the line's mules and horses.
Attachments
e&p team.jpg
An E&P 22 mule team departing Eureka from a Louis Monaco view.

Randy Hees
Posts: 464
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 7:07 pm

Re: Wagon vs Narrow Gauge… comparative cost

Post by Randy Hees » Sat Apr 13, 2013 10:21 pm

Thanks Greg...

I am trying to build a time line with wagon sizes and capacities... Ranging from early teamsters on Geiger grade to the Comestock, to Borax Smith's 24 mule teams, to the 20 mule team sets out of Death Valley to Daggett and Mojave, to teamsters associated with Tonopah, to the shorter routes out of Daggett, then connecting to the T&T as it built north... the wagons seem to be the pioneers for many railroad lines, or alternately, the feeders for those lines...

Randy
Randy Hees

Director, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City
Railway Preservation News http://www.rypn.org
Chasing old trains where ever I may find them...
http://randyhees.blogspot.com/

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