Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Prospect & Upper Ridge Railroad, PURR...

... "The Cat's Meow"
In E. L. Moore's photo stash I came across a few pictures of the Prospect & Upper Ridge Railroad, or PURR for short, that was built, owned and operated by A. E. (Bud) Sima, Jr.. That Prairie Schooner looks like something E. L. Moore could appreciate :-) Many of the photos had notes on the back,
The PURR trackplan was featured in the June 1969 issue of Model Railroader. I have neither dates on these photos nor a date when the trackplan was submitted to Model Railroader, so I don't know if the two exactly correspond.
[PURR trackplan from the June '69 issue of Model Railroader.]

I've added red boxes to the plan to indicate two locations noted on the backs of the PURR photos. 
[Opposite view of the Prairie Schooner showing the 'locomotive' driven propeller that billows the sail.]
[My inner aerodynamicist can see some problems with this design :-) ]

[A close-up of the power source. The clear disk I suppose is the propeller in motion.]

[The back of the photo notes this was shot at Riverview; marked with a red box on the trackplan.]

[The name on the depot is Summit, so I assume it was located on the trackplan at Summit, in the red box.]

[To be honest I'm not exactly sure if this photo was taken on the PURR, but it was with the PURR photos.]

[I couldn't find a Crazy River noted on the trackplan. Maybe it was added after the plan was published.]

I guess '69 was something of a notable year for Mr. Sima. As well as having his trackplan published in Model Railroader, it seems some practical jokers were trying convince him that E. L. Moore didn't exist and was merely a nom de plume for a Mr. Don Burdock. Here's an initial hint contained in a letter snippet from E. L. Moore to Bill Rau, an editor at Model Railroader in the 1960s, dated 1 December 1969,

Another letter just received from Bud Sima. What kind of a deal you two (you and Don Burdock) try to put over Bud? After I got the drift of it I kinda went along with it and said I couldn't make the meeting because of the highway traffic and that cheapskate Burdock wouldn't pay my plane fare . . . he thinks some where some one is pulling his leg but isn't quite sure which one.

So, E. L. Moore himself went along with the joke, but Bill Rau tried to clarify in a reply dated 4 December 1969,

Bud got the idea that Don was writing the E. L. Moore stories under an alias; and the more I tried to assure him that "Yes, Bud, there is an E. L. Moore," the more he became convinced that Don and I were ganging up on the gag.

No doubt some similar practical-joke-that-got-out-of-control caused the whole "William Shakespeare didn't write those plays, it was Sir Francis Bacon, or maybe Christophe Marlowe, of maybe . . . " fiasco :-)

[30 January 2018 Update: Although the photos were found in E. L. Moore's photo collection, they weren't shot by him, but by Mr.Sima and mailed to Mr. Moore.]


  1. I want to make a request...would like your permission to republish some of this in the Mid-Eastern Region "newsletter/magazine", because I just had a story about Bud Sima a couple months ago...because folks in my area knew him. And it'd be interesting to provide a follow-up with your content above...

    You'll enjoy the story too, you can find it here:

    I'm the editor, btw.

    and, the Earl of Oxford wrote the plays. Not those other hacks.

    1. Yes, you have my permission. Glad to see there is interest !