Passenger Cars of the South Park

The Three Barney & Smith Cars

Or was it six? Or four? Or maybe five?


The South Park bought three cars from Barney & Smith of Dayton Ohio. Chappell {9} says they were all received 29 June 1878. One would expect these cars to be alike, but they were not. The following table compares what we know about them.

1885 INFORMATION #3 #4 #5
Name Geneva Halls Valley Leadville
Type Coach Coach Coach
Seats 21 21 21
Length 40'-5" 40'-1" 40'-6"
Heat Stove Stove Stove
# Wheels 8 8 8
Size Wheels 24" 24" 26"
Windows 14 7 + 7 14
CAR DIAGRAMS (1916) #3 #4 #5
Seats 23 22 24
Length Over Sills 40'-5" 40'-0" 40'-6"
Inside Length 39'-9" 39'-4½" 39'-9"
Length Over Buffers 48'-0" 47'-5" 48'-0"
Width 8'-0" 8'-2" 8'-0"
Weight 35,320 lbs 37,900 lbs 40,140 lbs
Wheel Size 26" 26" 26"
Heating Stoves Spear Htr Stoves
Lighting Oil Lamps Oil Lamps Oil Lamps
Interior Finish Ash/Oak Ash/Oak Ash/Oak

First, lets look at the information from 1885, as it should be most nearly representative of the original cars. While the number of seats was the same, coach #4 was 4" to 6" shorter than either #3 or #5, which were probably the same length. (An inch difference over 40' is not surprising - slightly more than .2% error.) But coach #4 also had a very different pattern to its windows that makes it easy to spot in photographs: rather than 14 evenly spaced windows, as on the other two, coach #4 had a solid panel at the center of the car, making the windows fall into a 7 + 7 pattern. This space was not wide enough to have contained another window, so nothing had been left out: it was a matter of design.

C&S Coach #77, 1936
South Park coach #4 as C&S coach #77. Note distinctive panel between center pair of windows. (There were two at the right end that have been covered.)

The other thing that is different among the three coaches is that coach #5 had 26" wheels while the other two had 24" wheels. Is this a real difference? We shall probably never know, as Ehernberger admits doctoring the 1885 list to eliminate obvious errors, and the diagram page says the car (in 1916) had 26" wheels. Was this an obvious error that was corrected?

The C&S passenger car diagram information, though late, and perhaps reflecting changes introduced during previous rebuildings, confirms the differences between the cars, particularly as to the lengths. While length over endsills may have been carried over from the 1885 information, length over buffers is a new figure that shows a 7" difference, thus confirming the roughly 6" difference in the 1885 over endsills information. And note that coach #4 was then 2" wider. (But take that with a grain of salt, as (1) the measurement may have been imprecise, (2) the measurement may have been taken at a different point on the car, and (3) width may have been added in the several rebuildings between 1878 and 1916, when the diagram page was last updated.) (Isn’t it interesting that car #4, the shorter of the three, is the one that has the extra panel in the center? And that though shorter, it was fatter?)

Some argue that J.G. Brill was the builder of coach #5, but the only evidence we know of for this is the notation on the car diagram page for coach #5, the basis for which we do not know. (But we do know some builder information was inaccurate. See the Alternate Dates page.) And notice that coach #5 was more like coach #3 than was coach #4. If any one was different it was #4. (See Coach #5 History for fuller discussion of Brill as its builder.)

Why were these cars different? Cars were usually made to order. The Ohio Falls Car Company is the only builder we know to have had an inventory of ready-mades.


The answer to why coach #4 differed from #3 and #5 might lie buried in the order books of Barney & Smith. Unfortunately, the order books for this period are nowhere to be found.

In The Barney & Smith Car Company, author Scott Trostel has tried to construct a hypothetical builders record, using trade journals of the times. He is to be commended for his efforts, but is the first to recognize the inexact nature of such an undertaking.

Here’s his hypothetical listing for the Denver, South Park & Pacific (All are wooden cars with 8 wheels) —

 Type  Date  Car No.  Over-all
 Chair  1873  #158  40'-0"  20.0
 Coach  1875  #128  41'-10"  17.0
 Coach  1878  Halls Valley    
 Chair  1878  Geneva    
 Chair  1878  Leadville    
 Chair  1885  #160  40'-5"  17.0

Let’s critique Trostel’s hypothetical list —


It shows six cars coming from Barney & Smith when even the most ardent fans of Barney & Smith claim four at most (#3-5 and #9).


No record of the time shows the South Park getting any passenger equipment before 1874, and in fact, they are quite specific that the Hallack cars were the first. Scratch the 1873 date.


No record of the time shows the South Park getting any passenger equipment during 1875. Times were hard. Money was short. The line was stalled with a 16 mile branch to Morrison. Why would it need more than the two Hallack cars? Scratch the 1875 date.


By 1885, the South Park was in decline, not replacing anything lost. Two cars were destroyed that year and not replaced. The next year officer car #025 (former #050) was shipped off to another line and replaced with a rebuilt box car. Later that year four outfit cars were dropped from the roster. And in 1887 two more coaches were dropped from the roster without replacement. Scratch the 1885 date.


The South Park had no #158. But #158 is the C&S number for DSP&P #4—the Halls Valley—and 40'-0" (or 40'-1") is its length. These two listings appear to be for the same car, even though called a chair car in one and a coach in the other.


The South Park had no #160. But #160 is the C&S number for DSP&P #3— the Genevaand 40'-5" (or 40'-6") is its length. These two listings also appear to be for the same chair car.


The South Park had no #128. But #128 is the C&S number for coach #9 and 41'-10" (or 42'-0") is its length.

We end up with a hypothetical list of four cars. Using the DSP&P numbers this is #3, #4, #5 and #9, with the latter having an improbable construction/delivery date.

#3—Geneva—appears to have been built as a chair car.
#4—Halls Valley—may have been built as a chair car or as a coach.
#4—Leadville—appears to have been built as a chair car.
#9—un-named—appears to have been built as a coach.

The only thing to be gained from this hypothetical list seems to be the suggestion that #4—Halls Valleymay have been a coach rather than a chair car, as were #3 and #5.


Perhaps the answer lies in the following quote from the Denver Daily Times (9) describing the new cars —

“The combination passenger and express car is named ‘Halls Valley.’  The passenger cars are named ‘Geneva’ and ‘Leadville.’ ”

Halls Valley—Coach #4—may have been a combination coach-baggage car, converted to a coach by 1885. At least one authority has come to this conclusion, but we don’t know whether this was his basis or whether he had other evidence.

Back to coach #3 page
Back to coach #4 page
Back to coach #5 page

08 April 2006

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