Passenger Cars of the South Park

Coaches #11 - 15 - Page 2


U.P. 1885 DL&G 1889 C&S 1899 C&S 1906
2nd #2 Coach #55 Dropped from roster 1887 Gone Gone
#11-15 Outfit cars #50-54 Gone Gone Gone

New York Elevated Railroad Cars
This scene from another old stereo view card seems to show the same train from the other end.  Whoops! That "caboose" appears to be a cleverly disguised locomotive!! See New York Elevated Railroad page for details.


Assuming we are correct (as explained below) coaches #11 - #15 and 2nd #2 would have been 41'-6" long including end platforms, with a square-topped passenger door amidships extending up to the eave line, flanked by eight square single-pane windows to each side of the door. There was no visible beltrail below the windows nor letterboard above. The siding appears to be board-and-batten, but upon close examination turns out to be a form of paneling. The platform roofs were somewhere between a true bullnose and a hooded—sort of a relaxed bullnose—with a flat eave coming straight out from the car. There would have been no steps up to the end platforms unless and until the South Park added them. At a time when narrow gauge cars were generally less than 8'-0" wide, these former standard gauge cars were 8'-10" wide! Finally, they would have been very lightly built in all respects, with total weight of about 8 tons (compared to about 17 for a comparable-sized narrow gauge coach).


Poor {41} and Ferrell/SoPk {46} both say that the 8 April 1880 issue of the Denver Daily Times reported the purchase by the South Park of sixteen secondhand passenger cars from the New York Elevated Railroad. Just where the figure of 16 came from is anybody’s guess—perhaps the South Park did buy 16—but in fact there were only six of these cars delivered.

The Rio Grande had taken its own sweet time building north to Buena Vista, and was ready to extend its line on north to Leadville, over which the South Pass would also access that booming market. The South Park had added two coaches, two baggage cars, a chair car and its first baggage-mail-express car to its five-car fleet during 1879, but no way would that be enough to service both the Leadville traffic and the traffic it expected to get from Gunnison.

Jay Gould had been buying South Park stock, and by 1880 was beginning to get involved in its management, as he was in that of the Union Pacific. The South Park was in need of cars. Gould just happened to know where some could be had: the New York Elevated Railroad, which he just happened to control. At that time, New York’s elevated railways were powered by steam engines, albeit much smaller than on the South Park, so such an acquisition was not unusual. The Mason-Bogies would not be dragging around a string of electric traction cars.

The South Parks coach #2 was destroyed by fire less than a month before these six coaches arrived, and one of the new cars was slipped into the roster as (second) #2, while the others were numbered #11-15. These cars had been built for the NYERR in 1876 by Gilbert, Bush & Co. and were no doubt typical of the lightweight elevated railroad cars of the times. They were in the process of being replaced with longer and heavier equipment as the elevated structures were upgraded to support heavier locomotives.

These cars appear to have actually been in use, as Poor (42) reports a story by Albert Sandford in the October 1928 issue of Colorado Magazine wherein Mr. Sanford recollects when the end-of-track was near the foot of Kenosha Hill (December 1880), riding a morning passenger train on which

At least half the train consisted of cars formerly used on the New York Elevated. These cars had been purchased and reconditioned to meet the rapidly increasing rush to Leadville.

The pressing need for these cars was soon eliminated by the unexpected availability of cars from the ATSF. They may also have been too fragile to hold up well. And their 8'-10" width had to be an ongoing problem. Imagine a car of almost 11' width riding on rails 3' apart!

According to the 1885 re-numbering list, within five years of their acquisition all but  second #2 had been reduced to use as outfit cars. We dont know when, but the fact that coach #52 (#14) burned in February just before the list was published, but was nevertheless listed in June, suggests it was done before 1885. A reasonable guess would be that it was late in 1880 after the ATSF cars were acquired.

In the renumbering, Second #2 is shown as being used as a coach, while #11-15 were being used as outfit cars. But for some reason, the Union Pacific renumbered them consecutively as #50-55 (the “destroyed” #14 became #52, and second #2 became #55).

Outfit cars #50 (#12), #51 (#13), #53 (#13) and #54 (#11) were dropped from the roster sometime the next year (1886). Coach #55 (second #2) was dropped from the roster in December 1887.


Here is the basis for our guess as to what the cars obtained from the NYERR looked like. We have built the following roster of early NYERR cars based largely on Gene Sansone’s book Evolution of New York City Subways, supplemented by a roster published by the Electric Railroaders’ Association about 1954. Mr. Sansone should know what he is talking about, as he is Assistant Chief Mechanical Officer of Car Equipment Engineering and Technical Support for MTA New York City Transit .

Car Nos. Built Builder Average
1-4 1972 Jackson & Sharp 12,600 (1) 40
5-8 1872/73 Jackson & Sharp 12,600 (1) 44
9-10 1873 Cummings (2) 14,000 (1) 44
11-16 1875 Cummings 14,000 (3) 44
(1) The Electric Railroads roster says they weighed only 9,400 lbs.
(2) The
Electric Railroads roster says these were built by Jackson & Sharp.
(3) The
Electric Railroads
roster says they weighed only 9,700 lbs.
Cars 1-16 were 35'-0" long over end platforms and had a “Shad Belly” design that put the floor between the trucks only inches above the railhead.
Sansone says cars 1-16 were all scrapped by 1885.
Car Nos. Built Builder Average
17-18 1875 Jackson & Sharp (4) N/A (5) 44
19-21 1876 Jackson & Sharp (4) N/A (5) 44
22-39 1876/77 Gilbert Bush & Co. N/A (5) 46
(4) The Electric Railroads roster says these were built by Gilbert Bush & Co.
(5) The
Electric Railroads
roster says they weighed 15,700 to 16,000 lbs.
Cars 17-39 were 41'-6" or 42'-0" long over end platforms and of a more conventional design except for having a central door for additional passenger loading.
Sansone says cars 17-39 were all sold or scrapped.
Car Nos. Built Builder Average
40-119 1878 Gilbert Bush & Co. (6) 22,620 (7) 48
(6) The Electric Railroads roster says 81-110 were built by Wason.
The Electric Railroads roster says their weight was 16,000 lbs.
Cars 40-110 were 44'-10½" long over end platforms and looked more-or-less conventional except for their pointed-arch windows.
The Electric Railroads roster accounts for each and every one pf these cars.

It is unlikely South Park cars #11 - #15 and 2nd #2 were from NYERR cars #1 - #16.

1.   The 1885 renumbering list says specifically these cars were built by Gilbert Bush & Co. Though we question whether NYERR #9 - #16 could really have been built by Cummings (since the only Cummings we are familiar with is McGuire-Cummings, predecessor to Cummings Car & Coach, which was not in business until 1904), there is no reason to believe they were built by Gilbert Bush & Co.
2.   The 1885 renumbering list says C&S cars #11 - #15 and 2nd #2 were 35'-0" long over endsills (length of body exclusive of platforms). NYERR cars #1 - #16 were 35'-0" long over platforms, which would have made them about 29'-0" or 30'-0" over endsills.
3.   Sansone says specifically all these cars were scrapped.

It is equally, or even more, unlikely that South Park cars #11 - #15 and 2nd #2 were from NYERR cars #40 - #119. Though all—or at least half—of these cars were built by Gilbert Bush & Co., the Electric Railroads roster accounts for the disposition of each and every one of them.

It seems likely, then, that South Park cars #11 - #15 and 2nd #2 were from NYERR cars #17 - #39, and probably #22 - #39.

1.   These cars were built by Gilbert Bush & Co.
2.   These cars were 41'-6" or 42'-0" long over end platforms, making them somewhere around 35'-0" to 36'-0" long over endsills (just estimating, as we have no idea how wide the end platforms were on “el” cars).
3.   These cars had a center door, as seems evident in the 1929 photo above.
4.   Throughout the 1880s the NYERR was replacing these cars with longer and heavier ones as it upgraded the strength of its elevated structures.


We are aware of no identifiable photos of coaches #11-15 or second #2.

In The South Park Sketchbook, Dale Fleming presents a drawing of a South Park coach based on imagineering a combination of the first photo above and one of the plans on PAGE 3.

In his new book, Passenger Cars Vol. 1, Hal Carstens has a plan for a 45'-0" open-platform elevated coach of the type built by the Pullman, Wasson, Gilbert, and Stephenson companies. While substantially larger than the South Park cars, which were only 35'-0" long, it may nevertheless have the same look.

In his book Evolution of New York City Subways (Brooklyn, NY: New York Transit Museum Press, 1997), Gene Sansone has a car diagram page for NYERR cars #17 - #39.

See NEXT PAGE for other possible relatives of coaches #11-15 and second #2.


The following summary assumes the validity of our assumptions as outlined above. Items in black are from 1885 renumbering list. Items in blue are from Sansone. Items in red are estimates based on other South Park cars.

DSP&P No. #11-#15  2ND #2
1885 U.P. No. #50-#54 #55
1889 DL&G No. Gone Gone
Car Type before 1885 Coach Coach
1885 & after Outfit Coach
Capacity As received 46 46
1885 list N/A 21 seats
Built by Gilbert, Bush & Company
Build date 1876/77
Delivery Date March 1880
Acquired From New York Elevated Railroad
Length Over Endsills (1885 list) 35'-0" 35'3"
Length Over Buffers 41'-6"
Truck Centers 27'-0"
Wheel Size 26"
Truck Wheelbase 5'-0"
Width 8'-10"
Height of Body 9'-1½" *
Body Above Rails 36" *
Weight 15,760 - 16,000 lbs.
Platform Roof bullnose - hooded
Heating Stoves
Lighting Oil lamps
Interior Finish Probably very plain, certainly not oak or other heavy wood.
Termination Date 1886 December 1887
Termination Method Dropped from Equipment (#14 destroyed 20 February 1885) Dropped from Equipment and roster slot declared vacant
* Total height above rails: 12'-1½"


08 April 2006

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