"Pacing the Sail Car"- On the Kansas Pacific Railway in 1880

by Michael Boss
Casein on Panel
20" X 30"

From the Collection of Joyce Scott, Hill City, Kansas

A bit over 20 years ago, I painted a sizable series on the Kansas Pacific Railway with various towns, rail yards and an occasional landscape between Kansas City, Kansas and Denver, Colorado. Even then I knew about the Kansas Pacific sail car as there is one photograph extant from c. 1879. For whatever reasons, I didn't include a painting of the cloth-rigged sail car.

Worldwide, hand cars were masted with sails and Kansas Pacific was no exception. Many sail cars were rigged with one sail and for whatever reasons, KP's had a sloop type rigging. It reportedly sailed from Hays to as far east as Junction City, Kansas. With the right wind, the little track surveying car could reach as high as forty miles per hour. That would have been close to the relative speed of the KP's Baldwin 4-4-0 American steam engines!

In the painting, I used my friend Kathy Tubbs' loving horse Frito for the white markings.