Scientific American, Oct. 5, 1895
The eastern end of the Catskills range has been
a favorite mountain resort for many years. Until within a short-time
the hotels on top of the mountain were accessible only by a tedious
stage ride up the face of the mountain, or by the rather circuitous
route of the Stony Clove railway running from Phoenicia, on the
Ulster and Delaware Railway, to the top of the mountain.
Recently an inclined railway has been built up
the side of the mountain toward the valley of the Hudson, and
extending from Otis Station, on the Catskill Mountain Railway, nearly
to the top of the mountain. This railway is known as the Otis
Elevating Railway, having received its name from the firm of Otis
Brothers, the well-known manufacturers of elevator machinery.
The road is 7,200 ft. long, with a rise of
1,600 ft. It runs in a straight course down the mountain without any
lateral deviation, but is not a true inclined plane. It is made up of
four curves two of which are circular while two are parabolic. This
plan has been worked out by the engineer, Thomas E. Brown, to secure,
as far as possible, the balance of the two cables used in moving the
cars, the cables alone weighing ten ton each..
The engines which operate the cables are
located at the upper terminus of the railway, within about three
hundred feet of the old Catskill Mountain House, which you see in
the general view. The engines are of the Corliss type, built by the
Hamilton Corliss Engine Works. They are seventy-five horsepower each
at one-fourth cut-off, the diameter of the cylinders being twelve
inches, the length of the stroke being thirty inches. The shaft,
which is common to both engines, is provided with two brake wheels,
which are each encircled by a brake strap. The shaft also carries a
pinion which engages a spur wheel on a shaft of one of the cable
drums. The driving cable drum has a loose rim provided with a grooved
periphery which receives the cables, the rim being carried by
friction. The other cable drum simply supports the cables. The
cables, which are connected up parallel, are attached to one car, and
passing twice around the drums extend out of the engine house around
a sheave, thence to the other car.
The track, as will be seen by reference to the
general view, has three rails, the center one being common to both
cars, there been a separate outer rail for each car, except at the
turn-out, shown in the general view, about half-way up the mountain.
Here for a very short distance the track separate into separate and
distinct two-rail tracks. With this arrangement, it will be seen that
when 1 car goes up the other must necessarily go down, and, so far as
the cars themselves are concerned, they balance each other.
The cars have a seating capacity of ninety
passengers, a caboose being provided for a proportionate amount of
baggage. The seats are like those used in the elevators of the Eiffel
tower, being constructed on a curve which enables the passengers to
easily adjust themselves to the different inclinations of the railway.
To the ties on each side of the central rail
are secured heavy timbers which extend from one end of the railway to
the other, and upon each car is firmly attached a clutch capable of
of gripping this timber upon the top and sides. The clutch is under
the control of a governor which rolls on the top of the timber. Any
considerable increase in the speed of the governor releases the
clutch and causes it to be thrown forcibly into the timber, thus
instantly arresting the downward motion of the car. The two cables
are also attached to a swivel plate upon each car, which is connected
with the clutch mechanism, so that should one of the cables fail, the
other will turn the swivel plate and cause the clutch to engage the
timber. The clutch can also be operated by hand at the will of the conductor.
Upon the cable-driving drums is placed a strap
break which, together with the brakes on the engine shaft, is
operated by air pressure. The engines are provided with a link
motion, and the shifting of the engine may be effected by means of an
air cylinder in the tower above the engine room. In fact, all the
controlling mechanism may be operated by simply turning air valves
connected with the air brake system, and to insure the stopping of
the cars at the ends of the road a lever is provided, which is moved
by the car so as to throw into action the engine-controlling levers
and brakes, to immediately stop the engine and to hold the cable
securely in the position in which it is stopped.
In the tower in front of the controller is a
governor driven by the engines below, which indicates the maximum
speed by closing an electric circuit and ringing a bell. A wire
extends from one end otf the road to the other for electric
signaling, and a telephone system has been provided, by means of
which telephonic communication maybe had between the cars and between
the cars and the stations at the ends of the road. The passengers as
they are carried up this road survey a magnificent scene which can
never be adequately produced on canvas. For the details here
presented we are indebted to C. F. Parker, assistant engineer.