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narrowest gauge working railway

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  • narrowest gauge working railway

    I have acquired a set of the old 15-minute (1"=1 mile) topographical maps of Arizona. Of the approximately 300 maps in this series I have about 250. I use these maps to locate ghost towns.

    The sheet for Ray, Arizona, published in 1910, shows a town called Troy, located about 8 miles NE of Kelvin (a copper mining town which still exists). Troy is not on current maps, so I looked it up in Ghosts of the Adobe Walls, by Nell Murbarger, a good reference for lost Arizona towns. This has a quote from the Tucson Citizen newspaper, 1907:
    The town of Troy can lay distinction to having probably the narrowest gauge railway in the Territory. It travels daily seven miles between Kelvin and Troy and it looks like a Christmas toy. The biggest thing about the engine is the smokestack, while the cars are large enough only to hold six or eight men. The road is used almost exclusively for transporting ore from mines to the mill.

    I don't know if any of you can supply details about this particular railway (I find nothing). But I'm curious -- what were some of the smallest working steam locomotives, in the mines or in the woods (but not in your backyard).
    Last edited by aostling; 08-20-2007, 02:10 PM.
    Allan Ostling

    Phoenix, Arizona

  • #2
    I recently went on this narrow gauGe railway in cornwall(Uk)

    they were actually building another engine in their work shop- I have more pics,but not enough time to send them to photobucket, more later

    engine quietly fizzing away.


    • #3
      The Seattle Monorail?
      Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


      • #4
        There are a couple of working two foot railways just a few miles from where I live. They are not steam however, the tiny locos I have seen are diesel-hydraulic. These lines are in the Waitakare ranges - an area of bush-covered hills in West Auckland. It is a catchment area for the city water supply and there are several dams. The railways were built and used during the dam construction many years back, and now are used to service the pipelines from the dams. They go through tunnels, across bridges and all of the time through picturesque bush. Still used by maintainance crews, but also used for sightseeing.

        There is another (two-foot?) railway under Auckland city, built just recently and used during the construction of a very long tunnel which carries electric cables.

        I am pretty sure there were two foot gauge Garretts (articulated) in Tasmania - that would have been something to see!
        Last edited by Peter S; 08-20-2007, 07:46 PM.


        • #5
          Queensland sugar cane locos

          The sugar cane industry in Queensland and northern New South Wales layed very extensive two foot gauge tracks to get the cane from the fields to the sugar mills. The first systems would have been installed at a guess in the late 1800s.

          The steam locos are understandably all replaced by diesel locos nowadays, but the 2 foot system is still used each year in the cane cutting and crushing season.

          For more information


          • #6
            The two foot railway from Siliguri to Darjeeling still runs commercially. Passenger travel is mostly for fun since it takes about 7 hours by train compared to 2 1/2 by van. Some pictures at and adjacent pages, with Wikipedia history at
            "People will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time they will pick themselves up and carry on" : Winston Churchill


            • #7
              Peter S,

              You can see one of the Tasmanian Beyer-Garratts next time you’re in the UK! It was brought home and now runs on the 2 ft gauge Welsh Highland Railway. Lots of interesting rebuild photos on this site:-


              2 ft or thereabouts was a common industrial gauge. Portable track was often used. 15” seems to have been the smallest practical gauge for working railways, although I have seen reference to 12” in factories. There’s a 15” tourist railway in the English Lake District, the Ravenglass & Eskdale, which in its time was used to shift a lot of quarried stone. I’ve seen a picture of one of the tourist locos hauling a relatively large stone crusher as a commercial load.

              Many factories used to have narrow gauge railways, with or without locomotives, which went right through the shops to move components around the works. These were often 18” gauge.


              • #8
                I had a girlfried whose dad had a one track mind so narrow his ears rubbed together.


                • #9
                  The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch railway in Kent, England, is a working 15-inch railroad that runs 13.5 miles and, I am told, is used for more than just fun and tourists.



                  • #10
                    Originally posted by gregl
                    The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch railway in Kent, England, is a working 15-inch railroad that runs 13.5 miles and, I am told, is used for more than just fun and tourists.


                    You get the prize, for supplying this link. The fleet of eleven 1/3-scale locomotives, built in the 1920s and 1930s (and each unique), is worth a pilgrimage. Next time I'm in England I'm going to Kent, for sure.
                    Allan Ostling

                    Phoenix, Arizona


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by aostling

                      You get the prize, for supplying this link. The fleet of eleven 1/3-scale locomotives, built in the 1920s and 1930s (and each unique), is worth a pilgrimage. Next time I'm in England I'm going to Kent, for sure.
                      This railway is well worth a visit. A few years ago I was lucky enough to have a round trip over the full length of the line in the cab of locomotive No. 7 'Typhoon'. Although the maximum speed is about 25 mph, the sensation of speed is much greater. On the loco the driver (engineer) sits on a full width seat on the front of the tender with his feet in a well between the loco and tender. There is ample room for two people to sit side by side and still have access to the coal bunker in the tender the be able to fire the boiler with ease.



                      • #12
                        The answer to this could depend on your definition of "working". If you mean in use as a commercial line or doing actual useful work for some industry or agency, that is one thing and the above answers are good ones.

                        However, if you just mean that it works, that it runs; then there are many model railroads in the country and the world. I believe Z scale or 1:220 with a standard gauge modeled at slightly over 1/4" would be an easy answer. Of course, narrow gauge modeled at the same scale would be even smaller. And who knows how many modelers may have even smaller scale working models out there.

                        Of course, those two definitions can overlap. I have seen model trains used in commercial situations. Like a delivery system for drinks and food in a restaurant or bar. That would be an example of both of the above in one.
                        Paul A.
                        SE Texas

                        Make it fit.
                        You can't win and there IS a penalty for trying!


                        • #13
                          Well now. If we start talking about model railroads, I'll suggest this:


                          It's a pretty well kept secret in Michigan. Been there for years and I only finally visited this summer. Well worth the price of admission. Almost everything, including the rails, is fabricated from bar and sheet stock. Miles of track, in a pretty small area. Appears to be built by old men with common sense, who expected the visitors to have some common sense. It is possible to fall out of a riding car while on a high trestle. No attempt has been made to Disney-ize the place to appeal to kids. It's pure railroad.
                          Weston Bye - Author, The Mechatronist column, Digital Machinist magazine
                          ~Practitioner of the Electromechanical Arts~


                          • #14
                            Steam Only, 5.5 Gage, Work/Play/Model?

                            Retired railroader started this place, been around for several years now. Strictly a hobby. Machinists bring their prides and joys. Volunteers bring shovels and free labor. Four weekends/year, paying riders support the upkeep. No DisneyLand. Run whut 'ya brung and don't get hurt. Must burn coal or oil. Nothing Off Topic, strictly steam.

                            Located on private property about three miles from the house.



                            • #15
                              I recently visited the wonderful National Railway Museum in York, England, and was pleased to find these 18” gauge industrial locomotives:-

                              Don’t you just want to put your arm round this one? Not just because it’s cute, and called ‘Pet’, but to stop it falling over. Not just narrow gauge, but the whole thing is narrow enough to squeeze through small gaps in the shop, e.g. behind my lathe (if I move my bike).

                              It’s sister engines were called Tiny, Nipper, Topsy and Midge, rare touches of whimsy for the Crewe locomotive works of the L&NWR where they spent their days. Actually, they were allowed out to take urgent items up over the adjacent railway tracks (on a suspension bridge) to Crewe railway station.

                              Various other types were used at the works, and in the late 1890s, some were sent further afield for experiments in which a track was laid alongside a canal, and the little locos were used to haul a string of barges. Evidently the scheme didn't catch on.

                              This is a broader shouldered equivalent, from the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway’s Horwich works, the 18” gauge ‘Wren’.
                              Last edited by Asquith; 08-26-2007, 05:39 PM.