will pay the bearer F J F T Y CENTS ^ mrr(mt Ban]c
Notes, whenever the sum of jwe dollars or upwards in these bills is presented.
A 50-cent note issued by the state-owned and -operated Western & Atlantic Railroad based in Atlanta, GA. Many banks and large capital-holding companies such as the railroads, as well as a few cities and counties, issued their own currency notes. On both these and the currency issued by individual Southern states trains were a common motif, since they symbolized commerce and prosperity. The W & A, one of the principal lines utilized by Sherman during his march through Georgia, had earlier been the scene of the famous "Great Locomotive Chase," when disguised Northerners led by Capt James Andrews hijacked the locomotive The General and a train of cars. Conductor W.A. Fuller used more than one locomotive, a pole car and his own feet to chase the Federals, and finally recovered The General. The fully restored locomotive now rests in the Southern Museum in Kennesaw, GA. (Author's collection)
down a competitor's line, perhaps never to return. Richmond, for example, had five rail lines entering the city, but none of them were physically connected, thus condemning passengers and freight to time-wasting transfers before they could resume their journeys.
Another consequence was the complete absence of standardization. In both North and South, track gauges ranged from 4ft RVim to 6ft, thus preventing the transfer of rolling stock from one line to the next. Many companies built their railroads as cheaply as possible, with flimsy rails and poorly ballasted roadbeds. Most trains traveled along iron "T-rails," but a number of tracks still consisted of the old-style strap iron - a thin strip of iron, fixed to a wooden stringer with U-shaped strips. Safety standards on American railroads were often well below those on their European counterparts; in 1860 alone nearly 600 Americans died in railroad accidents, the majority of them company employees.
The typical locomotive of the day was the American type 4-4-0, although some companies - such as the Baltimore & Ohio, which pulled heavy coal loads out of mountainous regions - also invested in more powerful eight-wheel and ten-wheel engines. The steam-driven engine commonly used cordwood for fuel, although by this date some companies had already switched to coal. The crucial eight-wheel sheet-iron tender, coupled just behind the engine, carried the fuel and water, and when loaded often weighed as much as the engine itself. Depending on the speed and other conditions, a locomotive could travel about 25 miles on one cord of wood and 1,000 gallons of water - the average load for tenders of the day, although some were built with twice that capacity.
Wartime rolling stock included boxcars, flatcars, open-topped cattle cars, hoppers, gondolas, and dump cars. Except for some coal cars and a few iron boxcars most had wooden bodies, including passenger cars. Sometimes these had a longer life than their iron counterparts, which were highly susceptible to rust - the tender, essentially a rolling iron water tank, rarely lasted more than ten years in use. Wooden passenger cars did have one major drawback, however: a serious accident would shatter them in a murderous storm of flying glass and jagged splinters.
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