January 2011 Article

This Month's Article - January 2011
In Search of Motor Cars -
If not Electric or Steam, what Motor Car was left at Rockfish
Early in the existence of the Nelson & Albemarle, say between 1907 and 1926 when a Fate-Root-Heath Plymouth DLC-6 was purchased, a Motor Car was in use and frequently left at Rockfish for the use of H. L. Lane & family when returning from trips.  I've read this accounting of history in a couple of different books, but only recently has a concept come up that would explain a motor car of any substance that would account for it's being able to transport people and freight as well as protect from the weather!   ~~  In the May/June 2000 issue of Narrow Gauge & Shortline Gazette (Thanks Bob Brown!) there is an interesting set of plans which include photographs from the Buffalo Creek & Gauley Railroad of it's Motor Car "B" which unfortunately provides no construction or build date nor acquisition or disposition detail.  On pages 66-68 of that issue, Gary Caviglia provided drawings of side views, front/rear views, and interior diagram.  There are also 3 photos that show the motor car and it gives rise to the question if this type of motor car model could have also been used by the Nelson & Albemarle Railway, since no photos of the early motor car exist (to our knowledge) and there is no detail information found as yet.   ~~  Buffalo Creek & Gauley evidently purchased their motor car from J. G. Brill who purchased the chassis from the Four-Wheeled Drive Auto Company of Clintonville, Wisconsin sometime around 1920~1922 and interestingly, these vehicles were designed to use automobile wheels but worked on a standard wheelbase of 56 1/2" so that the wheels could be replaced and used on a standard gauge railroad.  For some time known as the Badger Four-Wheeled Drive Auto Company, later iterations provided the FWD company become a major manufacturer of fire engines/trucks and it's acquisitions gave it much clout in that field through the years.  For a view of the BC&G Motor Car, you could also see the website:  http://www.buffalocreekandgauley.com/LOCOMOTIVES/BusB/RailbusB.html 
which describes specifically, the story of Motor Car "B" on the BC&G.   ~~  Other manufacturers had produced motor cars during this period (notably, Mack) but this particular one more closely fits the style described in books as the motor car that might have been used by the Nelson & Albemarle Railway.  Whether the BC&G Motor Car "B" is a later design of one used by the N&A may never be known as most company records of the Alberene Stone Corporation were lost during the major flooding in the 1940's which closed the Schuyler to Rockfish connection.  The Motor Car used by the Buffalo Creek & Gauley railroad served a passenger and freight business where major freight was moved by more substantial means which fits the same profile as how the N&A would have used a motor car on a limited amount of freight coming in from Rockfish.  The Motor Car used early in the days of the Nelson & Albemarle may have also gone to Esmont as later timetables suggest a motor car making scheduled runs between Schuyler and Esmont for mail and light freight purposes.  ~~   So, some research is in order to determine if a far-flung listing of Brill cars includes a sale to Alberene Stone or H. L. Lane for that matter and a book on the history of Brill and the types of cars they produced has been ordered to start that journey.  Shortly, we'll also look for detail on the DLC-6 in use by the stone company and it's history.  Hopefully the path to those records and history will be much easier to find!
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