The Narrow Gauge Railroad

December 13, 1870


The narrow gauge railroad system is one that not only works, but also is needed. The system allows for towns through which the railroad runs to prosper socially, as well as commercially, with the cost to lay down the tracks is significantly cheaper than the cost to lay down tracks for other railway systems.


The experiments that have been made with the narrow gauge railway are in the highest degree gratifying in their results. We look upon this kind of railroad as a great blessing to society. The railway upon the broad tracks has placed the communities of many localities under serious embarrassment. Villages are left in intermediate situations, having no communication with the world save by vehicles drawn by horse, which in no wise supplies their wants in a country of railroads. They are, therefore, left, as it were, out of the world. This disadvantage to which so many populations are subjected suggests the inquiry, "What can be done for their relief?", "What can be done to bring them into communication with the world upon terms somewhat corresponding with the intercourse which other parts of the world maintained with one another?" The answer is now given. It should be bailed with delight by all men. The answer is the "narrow gauge railroad." It is to become the connecting link between all the trunk lines of railway and the communities not taken up by them. It will be the intersecting cross-line railway which will diffuse the benefits of railway communication throughout the land, and given every neighborhood that facility of intercourse and transportation that will place all upon a footing something near equality. Therefore we invite the attention of villages and local populations to this important railroad plan. We urge upon them to consider will - to make their estimates of its costs and advantages, and then see whether they have not the means to build short lines of narrow gauge ways, and whether they will not be handsomely rewards by the convenience and the profits those lines will give. We learn from a letter to the Railroad and Mining Register, written by Mr. H. F. Q. D'Aligny, a New York engineer, that a company is now organizing for the express purpose of building on contract, on this principle, roads and branch road especially to connect mining or manufacturing districts with main trunk roads. At the head of this corporation is Mr. Matt. Ellis, President of the Iron Hills railway company, of Kentucky, and the first road will be constructed this winter in the Hanging Rock region of the Ohio river, for the purpose of connecting the Iron Hills mines with the Eastern Kentucky railroad. Mr. Aligny gives some interesting facts from the report for 1869 of the Festinlog road. It appears that the net revenue of that road last year was $10,622, the capital of the company being only $36,185. Mr. Aligny says: "The economy of the construction and equipment of a narrow gauge road, 2 feet and 6 inches, is immense when compared with the cost of a road 4 feet 8 1/2 inches. For a single track it is 50 per cent over an ordinary flat country; but in the mountainous or mining districts the proportion increase to 75 per cent and more. In fact, a narrow gauge road can be established, and will prove a paying concern in country so rough that no attempt would ever be made to construct a road of the usual gauge. Narrow gauge roads will accomplish a revolution in the railroad system of the United State."With pleasure we add this evidence this evidence in favor of the narrow gauge railroad for neighborhood purposes - for that beneficent agency which relieves neighborhood populations from isolation, and places them again in communion with the world social, commercial, and literary.
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Travis Terry




“The Narrow Gauge Railroad,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed February 1, 2023,