Smiles, the Fast Clock and Schedules
On the Gorre & Daphetid operations were regulated by time schedules. To
facilitate operation by schedules John Allen adopted a 12:1 scale reduction
for both distance and time.
Distance was measured in “smiles,” one smile being 5 actual feet in length.
This distance was derived from the fact that in HO scale one mile is
approximately 60 feet. By applying a 12:1 scale reduction one mile then
becomes 60/5 = 5 feet.
One hour of real time became 5
minutes, as shown by the clock in one
of the building at Great Divide geared
to run fast.
Passenger trains were operated over
the line at a maximum speed of 30
smiles per scale hour (5 actual
minutes) while freight trains were
operated at maximum of 20 smiles per
scale hour. As John Allen explained, on
a mountain railroad with steep grades
and sharp curves, trains have to
operate at reduced speeds.
John Allen calculated in 1964 that
the completed mail line of the
Gorre & Daphetid RR would be 370
actual feet long, or 74 smiles.
However, this included the
Southern Pacific RR track from
Great Divide to Gorre and the yards
at both Gorre and Great Divide.
The actual length of the completed
Summit and River Subdivisions is
closer to 63 smiles. In the diagram
to the right, smile are measured
from the switch at the east end of the Gorre yard and continuing to the
west switch at Great Divide smile post are positioned to the right of the
track and point out and away from the direction of travel (west to east).