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Narrow Guage Railroads

 

Purpose

Narrow gauge railroads are a part of America’s history. They were designed to transport materials in areas where the terrain was too steep for the standard railroad. This web page will help students understand the need and purpose of narrow gauge railroad systems. Students will be introduced to several narrow gauge railroad lines through out the United States. All aboard!

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History of Narrow Gauge Railroads

Narrow gauge railroad systems were used throughout the United States. They get their name from the type of track that they were built to run on. Narrow gauge railroads have a width of three feet between rails, unlike standard gauge railroads which have a width of four feet eight and a half inches between rails. Narrow gauge railroads were primarily used in the mining and timber industries of the late 1800’s. These short line railroad systems were intended for use in mountainous regions where it was hard for standard gauge railroads to make it up steep grades. In areas where the grade was seven percent or more, narrow gauge railroads were used. They were seen as an inexpensive way of getting gold, silver, and timber out of remote mountainous regions. The following includes a listing of narrow gauge railroads by state and contains descriptions of each.

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Narrow Gauge Railroads of Arkansas

There were several tracks of narrow gauge railroad systems located throughout the state of Arkansas. These systems were basically used for transporting supplies back and forth over short distances. They have since been changed over to the standard gauge railroad system. For more information concerning narrow gauge railroad systems of Arkansas go to:

1. www.geocities.com/TheTropics/8199/c_belt.html

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Narrow Gauge Railroads of California

Narrow gauge railroads of California were built out of necessity to transport people, produce, and lumber. Here is a listing of a few California narrow gauge railroads: Monterey Salinas, Santa Cruz Railroad, and Nevada County Narrow Gauge. For more information on California narrow gauge railroad systems go to:

  1. http://pwl.netcom/~hees/nrrwGauge/main.html
  2. www.oro.net/~nengrr

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Narrow Gauge Railroads of Colorado

The narrow gauge railroads of Colorado were used in the mining industry. The railroads could handle the steep inclines of the Rocky Mountains. They were the main means of transporting gold and silver out of the Rockies. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is still in operation as a tourist line. For more information on narrow gauge railroads of Colorado go to:

  1. www.narrowgauge.net
  2. www.durangotrain.com/historytour

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End of an Era

It’s sad to think that most narrow gauge railroads are no longer in operation. Most of them have been converted to the standard railroad system. Others have been taken apart and turned into scrap. Even though narrow gauge railroads were inexpensive to build, off loading and on loading became too much of an expense. Each time a narrow gauge railroad met a standard railroad, shipments would have to be unloaded and reloaded. Only a few narrow gauge railroads are still in operation today. For additional information on narrow gauge railroads go to:

  1. www.railsusa.com

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