SOULE, Richard H. - N&W Supt Motive Power - More Information

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Mon Oct 23 13:20:14 EDT 2017

Richard H. (Herman) Soule, N&W  Superintendent of Motive Power  1891-1897,
has been discussed here before.  Soule was apparently the reason Joseph H.
Sands was quietly removed as General Manager of the N&W in 1897.  List
member, Mr. Peter Getz, has posted abstracts from the diary of his
great-grandfather, R.P.C. Sanderson, which probably reveal the
behind-the-scenes events which led to that situation.

Soule was a VERY interesting fellow.  His pedigree included PRR,  Pittsburg
[sic] Cincinatti & St Louis, New York West Shore & Buffalo, New York Lake
Erie & Western, then Union Switch & Signal, thence N&W, and then in
business for himself as a consulting engineer in New York City.

I have been doing research for an article on the very early Toucey &
Buchannan interlocking machines, and Soule's name came up again during that
research, this time in the 1895 Journal of the Association of Engineering
Societies (vol. 14, 1895, p. 302ff.)  The article is titled "Railroad
Signaling," and is a paper read by Charles S. Churchill, President of the
Association of Engineers of Virginia, on January 17, 1894.  In the
discussion which followed the reading of the paper, Richard H. Soule of the
N&W made extensive comments about the experimental introduction of the
Toucey & Buchanan Interlocking Machine twenty years earlier, at the 1876
Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia (the nation's 100th birthday party.)
At the time, Soule had been a mechanical engineer on the PRR and was
detailed to work on new trackage and signal arrangements at Philadelphia to
handle the anticipated crush of railroad traffic to that event.

Soule's remarks appear on pages 302-305 of the 1895 Journal.  I have
attached that article as a PDF.  Even if you have no interest in Soule, the
article is an excellent summary of the status of signaling in America at
the time.    Also, the lenses used in N&W switch markers at that time
receive an accolade from Mr. Churchill (p. 305.)

I have been unable to develop the curriculum vitae  of Charles S.
Churchill, President of the Association of Engineers of Virginia, but his
paper shows him to be quite well informed on railroad practices of the
day.  However, I seem to recall his name being connected with the N&W in
some fashion.  Can anyone give a bio for Mr. Churchill ?

Also, one John A. Pilcher was Secretary of the Association of Engineers of
Virginia at the time.  This may have been the man who later became
Superintendent of MP on the N&W.

-- abram burnett
                  Sent to You from my Telegraph Key
Successor to the MAGNETIC TELEGRAPH LINE of 1844

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