As railroads developed the problem of maintenance also surfaced and required attention. Getting a workcrew to the site was a problem as there were rarely roads near the adjacent track. So crews would ride the track to the site with the tools to do the work. However if the track is live the car that transported the crew would be in the way. Then someone came up with an idea of a lightweight car powered by humans that could be pulled off the track as needed. The first cars used cranks but that caused fatalities. Then Sheffield came up with an idea of pumping the car which proved to be a lot safer. The idea caught on and were used until small gas engines became available.
Above is a pump car in the Yakima Canyon
Yes women, families, and children can operate pump cars
Pump cars are not the only human powered vehicle used by the Northern Pacific
The velocipede, albeit also a bicycle, for rails was a 3 wheeled track car pumped by hand. It is supposed to be a one man vehicle but on occasion men would dress up in their Sunday best, anything to get their picture taken.
The pump car met its demise as the gasoline engine became more available. To the right is the Adams car with an engine the size of a lawnmower. (to be continued)