Along the Rails

Appearing in the Morehead News, ‘Along the Rails’ is a series of articles written by the Morehead Railroad Museum to inform readers on the many topics related to the Railroad system.

The Classification Of Steam Locomotives

February 17, 2020

Today we often refer to trucks as “eighteen-wheelers,” a quick means of identifying certain long-distance haulers. So it was with steam engines at the turn of the 20th century. In 1900, Frederick Methvan Whyte, of Dutch descent, who worked for the New York Central Railroad, devised a notation for steam engines to quickly denote their type and general usage. The Whyte system counted the total number of small wheels forward of the main drive wheels (leaders), the number of main drive wheels (drivers) and the number of small wheels behind […]

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Who Ran The Trains

February 17, 2020

The Engineer controlled the engine and drove the train in addition to seeing that wheels and other lubrication points were kept oiled. In photos, the man in the puffy striped hat carrying a large oil can is the engineer. The Fireman was responsible for coal and water. He was the stoker who shoveled coal into the boiler and kept the supply of coal available from the tender. He was also responsible for taking on water which steam engines used in large quantities. Thus, trains had to stop every few miles […]

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The Railroad Torpedo

February 17, 2020

Torpedo is a small charge which can be strapped onto a rail to alert the engineer of trouble ahead. The largest is about the size of a man’s wallet the smallest not much larger than a fifty-cent coin In the days before two-way radio communion, there was no way to alert the engineer of a train that trouble lay on the tracks ahead. Flares might be used at night but were useless in the day. In 1841 Edward Alfred Cowper invented the small explosive device. Strapped to the rail by […]

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Morehead & Northfork Number 1 Locomotive

February 11, 2020

Morehead & Northfork #1 The very first locomotive purchased by the Morehead and North Fork Railroad was an 0-4-2 Fortney type saddletank locomotive built by the H.K.Porter Company of Lima, Ohio. The 0-4-2 refers to the wheel arrangement (no leaders, four drivers, two trailers). Saddletank locomotives had water tanks located on either side of the main boiler which could be filled with water to add weight and give more traction when pulling heavy loads. The H.K. Porter Company was one of the leading locomotive builders at the turn of the […]

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Railroad Track Guages

February 11, 2020

The U.S. Standard railroad gauge also called Stephenson gauge after George Stephenson (distance from the inside of one rail to the inside of the other rail) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number. Why is that gauge used? Because that’s the way they built them in England and English expatriates designed the U.S. Railroads. The English build them like that Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the per-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used. And why did they use that gauge? […]

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The Blue Goose

February 11, 2020

Although primarily timber and coal hauling railroad, The Morehead & North Fork also provided passenger service. Early in the 20th century there simply were no established roads and no automobiles in Rowan County. A few horse-drawn wagon trails and some cow paths were the main avenues of travel. Often creeks were not only forded but many times the wagon or horse would actually travel in the creek for long distances before finding the path again. A little rain meant you stayed home.  Then The Morehead & North Fork Railroad arrives and now […]

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