Large Scale Central

Sunday Afternoon on a Handcar

Here is an interesting photo of a young family traveling on the railroad. The caption is: "Joy-riding on a narrow-gauge railroad used for hauling logs to a sawmill in Randolph County, WV.”

The photo was taken by John L. Thomas of Elkins,WV.

I found this photo while looking through the West Virginia State Archives web site at the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

I am continually amazed at the vast amount of historically pertinent modeling information that can be found by searching through old photo archives. I encourage all of you to take a look at the photo resources that are available in numerous state archive and historical society collections. Be aware that each collection will have its own instructions and constraints for using the photos. Most are covered under a “fair-use” clause that allows reproduction for research and educations purposes, but some do require advance written permission before being displayed on a web page.

Hey Bob, are we not ‘educating’ our fellow modelers when sharing here? (tongue firmly in cheek(

One of the purposes of this forum is education. Says so right here.

Cool, but I always question the safety factor when I see pictures like that.

Steve, I thunked that I had e nuff education all ready.

David Maynard said:

Cool, but I always question the safety factor when I see pictures like that.

Steve, I thunked that I had e nuff education all ready.

Fer you, we’ll just call it larnin’.

Wow! Great picture.

How is that handcar propelled? Is it just rolling down grade?


It is my understanding that these types of cars were gravity propelled only. In talking to a few old-timers, it seems that many of the logging companies had gravity cars like this that were hauled on a flatcar from the mill town at the bottom of the line up to the camps higher on the hills. They referred to them as “speeders”. They were used by the loggers to get down to town in a hurry, rather than walking down the hillside. They were generally used for official business purposes only on Monday through Saturday, when the line was busy. On Sundays, everybody was off for a day of rest so the line would not have any logging traffic and could have been open for “joy-riding”…

This could have been some type of company sponsored recreation activity; or it could simply be one of the employees who lived at the camp with his family heading down to church on Sunday morning. Based on the dress and the position of the camera, I would think that this photo was a staged event, possibly for some type of publicity campaign by the line for prospective employees. I can’t find any additional data, so your guess is as good as mine.

Thanks Bob. :wink:

I think the guy in the middle “Dad?” was sitting on a seat with feet on peddles like a bicycle, Mom was hanging on to the back. certainly there were peddle powered velocipedes and this looks like it could be one of those.

here is a hand car with my sons doing the work, a smiling brakeman stands by with his foot hovering over the brake pedal!

Two foot gauge hand car

Nice photo.
I second what Eric wrote I bet that speeder was peddle powered. It looks like the mans leg is lifted up at the knee like he is on a bike and he is holding handle bars.
If it were gravity run what do they do when they need ot go up? Get off and push? How many bosses would do that?

That shot looks like it was taken at Roaring Camp in Felton, California. I rob trains there on the Great Train Robbery weekends (4th of July and Labor Day).

It appears to me to be a Teetor Railway cycle (Light inspection car) based on the above observations as well as the wheels (with bike spokes)

I wished I had one and a railroad to ride it on.

Bob- I thought this such an interesting photo, I posted it on Facebook, (citing you, LSC and the original indicated source) Thanks…