Frederick E Shearer.

The Pacific tourist : J.R. Bowman's illustrated trans-continental guide of travel, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean ... : acomplete traveler's guide of the Union and Central Pacific Railroads ... online

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1856, when General Fremont was nominated,
the Platform of the National Republican Party
contained a clause in its favor but it was re-
garded as a piece of cheap electioneering " bun-
combe," and decidedly absurd. Perhaps the
earliest record of a devoted admirer of this project
was that of John Plurnbe, in 1836. He was a
Welshman by birth, an American by education
and feeling, a civil engineer by profession, and
lived at Dubuque, la. He began to agitate
the project of a railroad from the great lakes
across the Continent to the Territory of Oregon.
From that time to his death, in California, sev-
eral years after the discovery of gold, he never
failed to urge his project ; earnestly and ardently
laboring to bring it before Congress, and attempt-
ing to secure a beginning of the great work. To
far-seeing statesmen, the idea naturally occurred
that in course of time there would arise on the
Pacific Coast another empire of trade and com-
merce and industry, either at San Francisco, or
the Puget Sound, which would in time, become
the rival of New York and the East, and at
once the project was taken up and encouraged
by Carver, Wilkes, Benton, Whitney, Burton and
others ; but all such ideas met with indifference
and ridicule.

In 1844, when Fremont made his famous ex-
plorations across the plains, which has earned
him so world-wide a reputation, so little was
known of the geography of that country, that his
reports were considered an immense acquisition
to the collection of books of physical knowledge
of our country. This section was fully 2,300
miles in distance, entirely vacant, no settlement,
entirely occupied by roving bands of Indians,
and the undisturbed home of the buffalo and
antelope. In that year Chicago was but an
obscure village, on a prairie without a single
inhabitant. And not a single line of railroad
was built from the Atlantic westward beyond
the Alleghanies, and on the Pacific only one
American flag covered a feeble colony. The dis-
covery of gold in California had its effect in
directing public attention to the unknown riches
of its Western border ; and at last Congress
voki up to the need of thorough explorations
and investigations. In March, 1853, Congress
made its first appropriation to explore the Far
West, and ascertain if there was really a practi-
cable route to the Pacific. In 1854, Congress ap-
propriated $190,000 additional ; and, as a result,

nine surveying parties were organized and pur-
sued their work. Ten routes were surveyed
between the 32d and 49th parallel of latitude ;
the eastern ends ranging all the way from Fulton,
Ark., to St. Paul, Minn., and the western ter-
minal points from San Diego to Puget Sound
The lengths of these routes varied from 1,533 to
2,290 miles.

The continued gold discoveries brought an im-
mense flow of population to the Pacific Coast, and
California, more alive to the necessities of such
roads than the East, after numerous agitations, at
last really made the first initiatory experiment.
Early in 1861 there was organized at Sacramento,
Cal., the Central Pacific Railroad Company, who
by the appointment of T. D. Judah, as chief en-
gineer, began the first and most thorough railroad
survey ever made on the Sierras.

Congress then woke up, and in July, 1862, the
first national charter was granted. As a curious
fact in the act the utmost limit of time allowed
for the completion of the road was fixed at July
1. 1876. In October, 1863, the preliminary organ-
ization of the company was completed. A capi-
tal of one hundred million dollars authorized, and
the first contract for construction begun in 1864,
but no practical progress was made till 1865,
when on the 5th of November, the first ceremony
of breaking ground, at Omaha, was celebrated.
Then was begun the great work ; the rapid
progress of which afterward was a world-wide
sensation, astounding engineers, capitalists and
even governments, with the almost reckless dar-
ing of construction.

Necessity and Benefits to the Govern-

From 1850 to 1860, the population of the far
Western States and Territories increased from a
mere handful to the large number of 554,301
persons, and in the whole area of 2,000 miles
there had been built only 232 miles of telegraph,
and 32 miles of railway. The United States
Government had established forts and trading
stations, and the year 1870 saw the completion
of the Pacific Railroad line, Congress and the
whole country were astonished to see the rapid
rate of development, and the enormous expense
of government military service. In that year the
population had increased to 1,011,971, there had
been built over 13,000 miles of telegraph lines ;
there were completed over 4,000 miles of rail-
road ; all representing the gigantic capital of
$363,750,000. In the reports of distinguished
statesmen to the United States Senate, occur
these remarks which show the spirit of the times
then Senator Stewart of California, says :

" The cost of the overland service for the whole
period, from the acquisition of our Pacific Coast
possessions down to the completion of the Pacific
Railroad was $8,000,000 per annum, and con-
stantly increasing."


As a curious fact of national economy, these
figures will show the result of the Pacific Kail-
road in saving to the United States Government :

From the building of the road to 1876, the
cost of transportation to the government was
as follows:

Amount cash paid to railroad companies for
one-half charge of transportation per
year, about 1,200,000 per aimurn, say for
7 years 1869 to 1876, $8,400,000

The cost to the government of military trans-
portation in 1870, was J-;K,OOO,OI>O per
annum, and increasing over $1,000,000 per
year. In 1876, would have been over $14,-
000,000. Average for 7 years, at 10,000,000
per year, 870,000,000

Total saving in 7 years to United States Govern-
ment, 62,600,000

The actual amount of interest during this time
paid by the United States Treasury on
bonds issued in behalf of the railroad,
average interest, 3,897, 129 per year.
Total for 7 years, $27,279,906

Net profit over all expenses to United States, $42,320,094
t These figures do not include vast amounts of
incidental items which would have been of incal-
culable trouble, or immense expense to the
United States, such as the indemnities con-
stantly being paid by the United States for de-
struction of life and private property by Indians ;
also depredations of Indians on property in gov-
ernment service, increased mail facilities and
decreased mail expenses, prevention of Indian
wars, the rapid sale of public lands, and the
energetic development of the mining interests of
all the Territories.

If these can all be correctly estimated, the net
gain to the United States by the building of the
Pacific Railroad, is over fifty millions of dollars.

Hon. Henry Wilson, in a speech before the
Senate, Thirty-seventh Congress, boldly said:
" I give no grudging vote in giving away either
money or land. I would sink 1100,000,000 to
build' the road, and do it most cheerfully, and
think 1 had done a great thing for mv country.
What are $75,000,000 or $100,000,000 in opening
a railroad across the central regions of this Con-
tinent, that shall connect the people of the
Atlantic and Pacific, and bind us together ?
Nothing. As to the lands, I do not grudge

It is a significant fact, that while the heat and
activity of Congressional discussion was most
earnest in aid and encouragement of the project,
the following sentiments were unanimously enter-
tained by all the members of Congress :

1. That the road was a necessity to the govern-
ment, and if not built by private capital, must be
built in time with public funds alone.

2. To encourage the capitalists of the country
to come forward and aid the project, the govern-
ment were willing to give one-half the funds
necessary as a loan, and were then merely doing
the least part of the whole.

3. That no expectations were entertained that

the road would ever, from its own means, be
able to refund the advance made by the" United
States, and no other thought was ever entertained,
save of the benefits to accrue to the public from
the opening of this grand highway of national
interest. No expectations were formed of the
ability of the company to pay or repay the
interest on the loan, bnt one thought was con-
sidered, that the building of the road was ample
compensation and service in its vast aid to in-
dustry, and its saving in transportation.

As editor of this Guide, knowing well the re-
sources of the Far West, we positively assert that
the government has already, in seven years, realized
in both savings ami sales, enough money to liquidate
one-third the whole principal, and accrued interest
of the government loan, and in less than twent'j
years from the opening of the road, the government
gain will be greater than the whole of the financial
aid it has ever given. The Pacific Railroad is th*
right-hand saving power of the United States.

Discouragements. Notwithstanding all
that the government had done tc encourage it
(by speeches), the work languished. Capitalists
doubted it. The great war of the rebellion
attracted the attention of every one, and the gov-
ernment, after its first impulses, grew indifferent.
A few bold men determined to work incessantly
for its completion. And one of the results of the
great war was the conviction in the minds of
every one of a closer Union of the States.
" Who knows" said one, " but California and the
whole Pocijic Coast may secede, and where are we
then? We can do nothing to retain them. The
Pacific railway must be built. It shall be built to
keep our country together."

The chief engineer of the railroad, Gen. G. M.
Dodge, in complimenting the directors on the day
of the completion of the last mile of track,
says :

" The country is evidently satisfied that you
accomplished wonders, and have achieved a
work which will be a monument to your energy,
your ability, and to your devotion to the enter-
prise, through all its gloomy, as well as bright
periods, for it is notorious that notwithstanding
the aid of the government, there was so little
faith in the enterprise, that its dark days when
your private fortunes, and your all was staked
on the success of the project far exceeded those
of sunshine, faith and confidence."

The lack of confidence in the project, even in
the West, was so great that even in localities
which were to be specially benefitted by its con-
struction, the laborers even demanded their pay
before they would perform their day's work, so
little faith had they in the payment of their
wages, or in the ability of the company to suc-
ceed in their efforts.

Probably no enterprise in the world has been
so maligned, misrepresented and criticised as
this, but now it is, by unbiased minds, pro-


nounced, almost without exception, the best
new road in the United States.

Rapid Progress. Though chartered in
1862, yet the first grading was not done until
1864, and the first rail laid in July, 1865. At
that time there was no railroad communication
from the East ; a gap of 140 miles existed be-
tween Omaha and Des Moines, and over this it
was impossible to get supplies.

For 500 miles westward of the Missouri River,
the country was completely destitute of timber,
fuel, or any material with which to build or
maintain a road, save the bare sand for the road-
bed itself, everything had to be transported by
teams or steamboats, hundreds and thousands
of miles. Labor, and everything made by labor,
was scarce and high.

Railroad ties were cut in Michigan and Penn-
sylvania, and shipped to Omaha at a cost, often,
of $2.50 per tie. Even the splendid engine, of
seventy horse-power, used at Omaha for the
company's works, was transported in wagons
across the prairies from Des Moines, the only way
to get it. Shops had to be built, forges erected,
and machinery put in place, and the supplies,
even, for the subsistence of the laborers had to be
brought by river from the East ; yet it was all

As the Westerners concisely express it, " The
wind work had all been dune, and grading now be-

In 1865, 40 miles of track were laid to Fre-
mont. In 1866, 260 miles were laid. In 1867,
240 miles were laid, which included the ascent
to Sherman. By January 1, 1868, there had
been completed 540 miles. In 1868, to May 10,
1869, 555 miles more were laid, and the road
finished seven years in advance of the time set
by Congress, and the time actually spent in
construction was just three years, six months, and
ten days.

To show the enormous amount of materials
required in the Union Pacific Railroad alone,
there were used in its construction 300,000 tons
of iron rails, 1,700,000 fish-plates, 6,800,000 bolts,
6,126,375 cross-ties, 23,505,500 spikes.

Fast Buildinff. Day after day the average
rate of building rose from one to two, three and
five miles. Many will remember the daily thrill
of excitement as the morning journals in the
East made the announcements of so many more
miles nearer the end, and as the number of com-
pleted miles, printed in the widely circulated
advertisements of the company, reached 1000,
the excitement became intense, as the rival roads
now were fairly aglow with the heat of compe-
tition, and so near each other. In previous
months there had existed a little engineering
rivalry, good natured, but keen, as to the largest
number of miles each could lay in one day. The
Union Pacific men laid one day six miles ; soon
after the Central followed suit by laying seven,

The Union Pacific retaliated by laying seven and
a half ; to this the Central sent the announce-
ment that they could lay ten miles in one day ;
to this Mr. Durant, the vice-president, sent back
a wager of f 10,000 that it could not be done. The
pride and spirit of the Central Pacific had now
been challenged, and they prepared for the enor-
mous contest, one of extraordinary magnitude
and rapidity. The 29th day of April, 1869, was
selected for the decision of the contest, as there
then remained but 14 miles of track to bring a
meeting of the roads at Promontory Point.

Work began ; the ground had already been
graded and ties placed in position, and at the
signal the cars loaded with rails moved forward.
Four men, two on each side, seize with their nip-
pers the ends of the rails, lift from the car and
carry them to their place ; the car moves steadily
along over the rails as fast as they are laid. Im-
mediately after follows a band of men who attach
the plate and put the spikes in position ; next a
force of Chinamen who drive down the spikes^
solid to their homes, and last another gang of
Chinamen with shovels, picks, etc., who ballast
the track. The rapidity of all these motions,
which required the most active of exercise and
alert movements, was at the rate of 144 feet of
track to every minute. By 1.30 p. M., the layers
had placed eight miles of track in just six hours.
Resuming work again, after the noon rest, the
track-laying progressed, and at 7 P. M., exactly,
the Central men finished their task of 10 miles,
with 200 feet over. Mr.. James Campbell, the
superintendent of the division, then seizing a
locomotive ran it over the ten miles of new track
in forty minutes, and the Union men were satis-
fied. This was the greatest feat of railroad
building ever known in the world, and when it
is known how vast the materials required to sup-
ply this little stretch of ten miles, the reader is
fairly astonished at the endurance of the laborers.
To put this material in place over 4,000 men
had been constantly employed. The laborers on
that day handled 25,800 cross-ties, 3,520 iron rails,
55,000 spikes, 7,040 fish-plates, and 14,080 bolts,
the weight of the whole being 4,362,000 pounds.
Upon both roads, for a year previous, there had
been remarkable activity.

A total force of 20,000 to 25,000 workmen all
along the lines, and 5,000 to 6,000 teams had
been engaged in grading and laying the track or
getting out stone or timber. From 500 to 600
tons of materials were forwarded daily from
either end of the lines.

The Sierra Nevadas suddenly became alive with
wood-choppers, and at one place on the Truckee
River twenty-five saw-mills went into operation
in a single week. Upon one railroad 70 to 100
locomotives were in use at one time, constantly
bringing materials and supplies. At one time
there were 30 vessels en route from New York
via Cape Horn, with iron, locomotives, rails and


rolling stock, destined for the Central Pacific
Railroad; and it is a curious fact, that on sev-
eral consecutive days more miles of track were
ironed by the railroad companies than it was
possible for an ox-team to draw a load over.
And when at last the great road was completed,
the fact suddenly flashed upon the nation that
a road once so distrusted, and considered too
gigantic to be possible, was constructed an
actual distance of 2,221 miles, in lets than five
years, of which all but 100 miles was done be-
tween January 1, 1866, and May 10, 1869
three years, four months and ten days.


Railroads. The first railroad that reached
this city from the East was the Chicago and
Northwestern the first train over it arriving
on Sunday, January 17, 1867. Then followed
the Kansas City, Council Bluffs and St. Joseph,
the Chicago, Bock Island and Pacific, and the
Burlington and Missouri Biver of Iowa (oper-
ated by the Chicago, Burlington and Qumcy).
After these came the Sioux City and Pacific, the
Omaha and Northwestern (in recent years called
the Omaha and Northern Nebraska), and the
Omaha and Southwestern, and the Omaha and
Eepublican Valley. The Omaha and South-
western is now operated by the Burlington and
Missouri Biver Bailroad in Nebraska. The
latter extends to Lincoln, the capital of the
State, then westward, uniting with the Union
Pacific at Kearney Junction. It has a branch
from its main lines from Crete to Beatrice, a
thriving town near the southern boundary of
the State. It also controls another line running
from Brownville, on the Missouri Biver, north
to Nebraska City; thence west through Lincoln
(where it connects with the main line) to York,
in the central part of the State. During 1880
the Omaha and Northern Nebraska became a
part of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and
Omaha Bailway, and is now known as the
Omaha Division of that line. A connection
with the St. Paul Line was made November
16, 1880, and the running of trains from Omaha
direct to St. Paul and Minneapolis commenced
a few weeks later. A branch of this line is also
being extended towards the beautiful valley of
the Elkhorn, one of the garden-spots of Ne-
braska. Other railroads are contemplated,
among them a branch of the Missouri Pacific
Bailroad down the west bank of the Missouri
from Omaha to Atchison. When completed, it
will, with the Missouri Pacific Main Line, give
a competing route to St. Louis and the sea-
board. At Atchison it will connect with the
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, forming an
almost direct route through Kansas to the
mines of Southern Colorado, New Mexico and
Arizona. As the Atchison Road has recently
met the Southern Pacific, Omaha will have

another outlet to the Pacific Coast. The Omaha
and Bepublican Valley, operated by the Union
Pacific Company, runs from Omaha to Stroms-
burg, about 125 miles west, and it is already
doing a large and increasing business. It will
be extended westward as the country develops,
and population increases. A branch of this
line is also in operation from Valparaiso to

Besides these railroads, Omaha has the Mis-
souri Biver on her front, giving the city cheap
steam communication from the center of Mon-
tana to the Gulf of Mexico, and with the whole
Mississippi Valley and its tributaries as far east
as Pennsylvania. The city has become the most
important railroad center west of Chicago and
St. Louis, and as the greatest popular "travel
center " on the Missouri Biver, stands unrivaled.
As a matter of interest we mention the fact that
in 1875 there were 55,000 local arrivals and de-
partures. In 1876 there were 70,000, and in
1878, 73,330, and in 1880 an increase of twenty-
five per cent, over 1878. The city is the east-
ern gateway of the mineral-bearing regions of
the West, and the products of British Colum-
bia, the Pacific Coast, the Sandwich Islands
and Asia, find their way through her limits to
the Eastern markets. Within a circle having a
radius of five hundred miles, of which Omaha
is the center, there are upwards of 12,000,000
people and 26,000 miles of railroad, radiating
in every direction. Within this circle is the
Black Hills region, whose rapid development is
already attracting attention. Beyond this limit
on the west, are Western Colorado, the greater
part of Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Ne-
vada and California. Omaha already has a
controlling influence over the greater part of
the mineral trade of these States and Territories,
of which we shall speak hereafter.

The general offices of the Union Pacific are
located here. They are in an elegant building
which catches the eye of the traveler as one of
the notable objects as he approaches the city.
It was completed in 1878, at a cost of $58,453.74,
and the citizens are very proud of tlais fine
structure. The general offices of the Burling-
ton and Missouri Biver in Nebraska, the Omaha
and Southwestern, and the Omaha and Bepub-
lican Valley Bailroads are also located here. In
addition to these, the general agencies of the
Chicago, Sioux City, St. Louis," St. Paul and
Eastern lines have handsome offices. The Blue,
Bed, Empire and other fast freight lines are
represented in the city, and it is probable that
the Baltimore and Ohio, Chicago, Milwaukee
and St. Paul, and other competing lines will
push their fast freight lines to a connection
with the Union Pacific and secure a proportion
of the immense trans-continental traffic.

The Omaha and Bepublican Valley Bailroad
has taken steps looking to the early completion


1. General View of Omaha and the Missouri Valley. 2. Posi-Offlee. 3. High School Building.
4.-flr8iid Cenlral Hotel. 5. Missouri Rivei bridge.


of a series of railroad lines that will "gridiron"
the State. One line will run to Atchison, Kansas ;
another to Beatrice, another into the Republican
Valley, another to Grand Island and up the
Xioup Fork, and another to the Niobrara Eiver
in the north.

Manufactures. In manufactures Omaha
is now the most extensive manufacturing point
on the Missouri River, the amount for 1880 be-
ing in the neighborhood of $12,000,000. She
has an oil mill which supplies the extensive
demand for linseed oil and oil cake, and pro-
motes the growth of flax in Nebraska, necessi-
tating at an early day the erection of flax mills
in the city for the manufacture of that article;
extensive white lead works, completed in the
spring of 1878; a safe factory, nail factory, shot
tower, several breweries, two distilleries, foun-
dries and machine shops, carriage and wagon
shops, three packing houses, flour mills and other
manufactories in active operation or contemplat-
ed. Among the latter are a grape sugar factory,
starch factory, etc. Among the principal estab-
lishments in operation are the machine shops,
car works and foundry of the Union Pacific
Railroad, and the Omaha smelting works. The
shops of the railroad occupy, with the round-
house, about thirty acres of land on the bottom
adjoining the table land on which most of the
city proper is built. Their disbursements
amount to $2,600,000 per annum for labor and
material, while for office and manual labor alone
the Union Pacific pays out annually in Omaha
over one million dollars. The value of this
business and the location of these shops to the
city can, therefore, readily be seen, and are no
small factors in Omaha's prosperity.

Business of Omaha Facts Interesting
and Curious. "When Omaha was first entitled
to the honor of a post-oflice, the story is told
that the first postmaster (still living in the city)
used his hat for a post-office, which he naturally
carried with him wherever he went, delivering
the mail to anxious individuals who were wait-
ing eagerly for him, or chased and overtook him.
Twenty years after, Omaha possesses a hand-
some stone post-office and a custom-house worth
$350,000 (in which there is a bonded warehouse),
and the finest building west of the Mississippi
River. The post-office has frequently handled

Online LibraryFrederick E ShearerThe Pacific tourist : J.R. Bowman's illustrated trans-continental guide of travel, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean ... : acomplete traveler's guide of the Union and Central Pacific Railroads ... → online text (page 3 of 61)