Monthly Archives: December 2013

Kennicott vs. Kennecott

For those of you who think I can’t use a spell checker, I thought I should clarify something.  There really are two distinct spellings of “Kennicott” – one with an ‘i’, one with an ‘e’.

  • Kennicott refers to either the river or the glacier.  The name comes from Robert Kennicott (1835-1866), an early explorer and naturalist who made two trips to the Alaska-Yukon region (at the time, Russian America).  His first trip in 1859 was purely scientific, having been tasked with collecting specimens of animals yet unknown back east.  Given his experience in the area, Western Union hired him in 1865-1866 to lead a scouting expedition to site a telegraph line the western United States up to the Bering Strait, where it would connect with a submarine cable and a similarly long line across Siberia to Europe.  (Kennicott died of a suspected heart attack in 1866 near Fort Nurato in northwestern Alaska, and the telegraph project was never completed.)
  • Kennecott refers to the Kennecott Copper Company or the company town at the base of the mill.  The ‘e’ was a misspelling on the incorporation paperwork that has persisted in the company’s name to this day.

Honestly, the mine and the town are referred to by both spellings, and it all gets used interchangeably.  I try to be at least consistent, but I guarantee a truly pedantic editor will find me abusing that principle at least a few places on this site.

Hand-laid Track, Here We Come!

Before I left for home to be with family for Christmas, I had another point rail on an Atlas Code 55 turnout break.  The stamping process appears to leave a weak spot right where the point rail connects to the throwbar, and some of them tend to break.  This is the third of this type of failure I’ve seen, and this makes me suspicious that it may be a common problem.  Combined with my frustration at the complete lack of Atlas C55 availability, I’ve decided it’s time to make some changes.

A few hours before leaving for Iowa, I bit the bullet and ordered a #7 Fast Tracks turnout building kit and associated hardware.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about these guys and decided it was time to give it a shot.  It’s a little pricey to get started, but once I have the jigs and tools, I’ll never be beholden to any company not having track piece X in stock again.  Plus, I’ll be switching to Micro Engineering C55 flex track.  Visually it’s on par, if not a touch better, than the Atlas flex track I already have and the rail will then be identical to my new turnouts.  I don’t like the more rigid design, but it’s made in the good ol’ USA and – surprise – you can actually get it.

The kit should be waiting in the mail when I get home, but I’m still missing a few things like the files that won’t show up until tomorrow.  Hopefully by the end of the week I can actually try out building a turnout and I’ll post again with my thoughts and results.