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Don's Rail Photos

Sandley Light Railway Equipment Works, Inc.

Riverside & Great Northern Railway

In the late 1940's, a Chicago & North Western engineer named Norm Sandley was highly impressed by the 15 inch gauge railroads of England, primarily the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch and the Ravenglass & Eskdale Rys. He decided there was a place for light railways of 15 inch gauge. Unfortunately he was about 50 years too late to promote light railways for regular transportation. As it turned out, his entire work ended up in amusement type of rides. It can be said that they did provide transportation, but the transportation involved was passenger hauling at a few zoos and a semi-world fair. The rest were for amusement only.

As an introduction, we present this photo which was taken July 13, 1950, at Janesville, Wis. It shows Riverside & Great Northern 128 being turned on the turntable at the South Park terminal in Riverside Park. The man in the cab is Norm and the man with his back to the camera is his father, Elmer. The R&GN was considered to be a demonstration of the practicality of this form of transportation. A short time later the entire operation was moved to Wisconsin Dells after the neighbors got up in arms about this railroad. Today the R&GN is being restored by a group who realize the talent and quality of work done by the Sandleys.

Special thanks go to Mike Decker, who has given us the following rundown of the locomotives created by Norm Sandley.

#1. 15" gauge 4-6-4 built at Janesville in 1947. Road #4001 (after the 4-6-4's of the C&NW). It was an oil burner with a return tubular boiler. It was about 1949 to the Lake Wales, Great Masterpiece, & Southern Ry. in Florida. The last report put her in a museum in Delaware. I have no photos of this engine, but I have seen them. It was beautiful.

"Tom Thumb" built at Janesville in 1947. Road #1. It had a vertical boiler and used a Locomobile engine. In the early 1970's it was regauged to 14" and given to Elliot Donnelley. After he died, it went back to Wisconsin Dells and was regauged back to 15".

First "Bug". 15" gauge 4 wheel gas-mechanical built at Janesville in 1947. Road #348. Little is known about this unit which apparently went to Lake Wales with the 4001.

#2. 15" gauge 4-4-2 built at Janesville in 1948. Road #128. It ran on the R&GN until 1981 when it went to Knoxville for the World's Fair Railway. It was rolled, rebuilt, and then went to the Knoxville Zoo. It is now in pieces in the garage of one of the members of the R&GN Preservation Society.

#3. 15" gauge 4-4-2 built at Janesville in 1952. Road #127. It ran on the R&GN until 1965 when it was purchased by Elliott Donnelley for donation to the Quinsippi Central Ry. at Quincy, IL. About 1994 it was sold to a private individual.

Second "Bug". 4 wheel gas-mechanical built at Wisconsin Dells in 1953. Road #125, later changed to #44. It ran on the R&GN until 1981 when it went to Knoxville with #128. Apparently it was scrapped there.

#4. 15"gauge 4-4-0 begun at Janesville and completed at Wisconsin Dells in 1953. Road #98. It was sold immediately to the Hoot Toot & Whistle Ry. at Elgin, IL. The owner changed the valve gear from Stephenson to inside Walschaert. Delton Schrock of Washaruka, IN, bought it in about 1993 for a railroad he is building.  It was later acquired by R&GN.

Unknown. 15" gauge 4 wheel gas-hydrostatic built at Wisconsin Dells. Road number unknown. It was reported to have been built and sold to the HT&W at the same time as #98. There is no proof that this was built by Sandley, but Norm claimed responsibility.

#5. 15" gauge 4-4-0 built at Wisconsin Dells in 1958. Road #82. Purchased by the Milwaukee Journal for the Milwaukee County Zoo Scenic Ry. & Transportation Co. It was displayed in the front windows of the Journal at 3rd & Juneau for some time prior to the completion of the railroad line at the zoo. It was traded back to the preservation society for a gas-hydrostatic built by them in 1995.

"GP-7". 15" gauge B-B gas-hydrostatic built at Wisconsin Dells in 1959. Road number unknown. It was purchased by the Milwaukee Journal for the Milwaukee Zoo and is still in service.

#6. 15" gauge 4-4-2 built at Wisconsin Dells in 1961. Road #1916. Purchased by the Milwaukee Journal for the Milwaukee County Zoo. It is still in service.

"SW-1". 24" gauge B-B gas-hydraulic built at Wisconsin Dells in 1966. Road # CB&Q 999. It was built on an Alan Herschell chassis supplied by Elliott Donnelley for the Brookfield Zoo. It was stored in a garage in Brookfield and has now been moved to Heston, IN.

2-8-0. 24" gauge built by Arnold Jung in Germany in 1918, #2845, and rebuilt at Wisconsin Dells in 1967. Road # Milwaukee Road 1. It was originally a WWI Feldbahn 0-8-0T. Elliott Donnelley imported it and had Sandley rebuild it for the Brookfield Zoo. It was stored in a garage in Brookfield and has now been moved to Heston, IN.

"GP-7". 15" gauge B-B started as gas-hydraulic, line shaft drive, in 1960 at Wisconsin Dells, but it was completed in 1970 as a gas-hydrostatic for Elliott Donnelly for the Quinsippi Central Ry. Road #940. The final disposition is unknown, but it apparently was auctioned off in about 1990 when the Quinsippi quit.

#16. 24" gauge 2-4-2 built at Wisconsin Dells in 1972. Road # C&O 242. Built for Elliott Donnelly for the Brookfield Zoo. It was stored in a garage in Brookfield and has now been moved to Heston, IN.

#17 24" gauge 2-4-4T started at Wisconsin Dells on speculation but never finished. It is now in the middle of the locomotive shop at Wisconsin Dells.

#18. 15"gauge 4-6-2 built at Wisconsin Dells in 1977 and designed by Mike Decker. Road #1924. Purchased by the Milwaukee Journal for the Milwaukee County Zoo. It is still in service.

In addition, Ben Hammer, of California, purchased parts and a tender and built a 4-4-0 in the early 1960's. Norm also started another 4-4-0 in 1962 to be numbered 64, but it was never finished before his death.

Again I want to thank Mike for his information. We finish this report with a series of pictures taken at Janesville on July 13, 1950, showing the 128 along the line.

If you would like to find out what is going with the Riverside and Great Northern, they have a web site.

 

 

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3/26/2012

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