Gilmore and Pittsburgh Railroad - Operating History

Operating History

When the G&P began service in 1910 the railroad owned a total of 8 steam locomotives, 16 passenger cars, 250 freight cars, a rotary snowplow, and other miscellaneous pieces of equipment; except for some of the freight cars, all equipment was acquired second-hand. When service began that May, the G&P scheduled a tri-weekly passenger train between Armstead and Salmon, leaving Armstead on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and returning on the following days. Freight trains also operated on most days. Traffic levels proved lower than expected, however, and in 1913 the separate freight and passenger services were replaced by a tri-weekly mixed train, carrying both freight and passenger equipment.

Both passenger and freight traffic declined in later years, and beginning in 1922 mixed train service was partially supplanted by a Brill railbus, a self-propelled vehicle designed to carry passengers and small freight shipments. For most of the 1920s, the railbus operated between Salmon and Gilmore, while the tri-weekly mixed continued between Salmon and Armstead. In 1931, the G&P borrowed a second, larger railbus from the Northern Pacific, and used it to provide a daily-except-Sunday roundtrip between Armstead and Salmon. The mixed was discontinued at that time, and freight trains began operating only as required, usually about once a week.

Service on the Gilmore branch was more dependent on the output of the district's mines, and as they declined and ultimately closed rail service to Gilmore dropped correspondingly. The Gilmore branch was largely out of service by the 1930s.

The railroad's equipment roster was significantly reduced over the years, as well, because of a lack of traffic and a need to conserve expenses. The majority of the line's passenger and freight cars, and all but two of the locomotives, were gone by the early 1930s.

Operations of the railroad were directed by its President and General Manager, W. N. Bichler (1881–1955). Bichler, who lived in Armstead, managed the railroad throughout its entire corporate history, from construction to abandonment.

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