The Railway Transition Spiral
8.75 x 5 inches. 82 individually cut blueprint leaves bound with two brass brads in tan wraps with handwritten title. No publication information given; cover bears the name and signature of Frederic M. Smith, possibly ca. 1920. Very Good condition: Wraps creased at the overextended edges, mild soil. Two leaves have pales stripes indicating where the original document was taped before being copied for the blueprint. The ethereal quality of the blue backgrounds against the graphs is an aesthetic delight that makes us think of midcentury American painter Agnes Martin.
We tracked down Frederic Manning Smith, b.1898, WWI serviceman (Private First Class, Company A, 15th Engineer Battalion) and civil engineer in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. The writing on pages 20-21, noting that the pages were in reverse order, matches that on Smith's application for veteran benefits (public record), suggesting he may have compiled the booklet himself. Contents relate to determining the "safe speed in miles per hour" given the elevation and angle of railway curve. Seven pages of introductory text, beginning: "The Grafic method of transition spiral as presented in the following pages is a curve easement applicable to simple or compound curves for either old or new track, and can be used to fit all conditions found in railroad compunction or the realignment of old curves to give better riding track and cheaper maintenance..." Arthur Newell Talbot published 'The Railway Transition Spiral' in 1899, with revised editions published through the early 1900s. Still, the contents of this booklet could not be matched to it, nor to 'The transition spiral and its introduction to railway curves...' by Arthur Lovat Higgins, nor any other searchable publications online. No record in OCLC. Some mysteries yet to be uncovered here!