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

. (page 4 of 61)
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 4 of 61)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

twenty tons of overland and local mail matter
per day. The total business at this post-office
for 1880 was about $2,375,000, and the total
number of letters, newspapers and postal cards,
collected and delivered, was 18,192,543. In 1861
the first telegraph reached Omaha, and its only
office was for several years the terminus of the
Pacific Telegraph. Now there are thirty -four
telegraph wires radiating in all directions; fif-
teen offices, employing seventy operators. The
number of messages per day averages 10,500, of
which one-third relates to Pacific Railroad busi-

ness, and including press dispatches, local and
Pacific Coast, about 25,000,000 words were re-
peated. The total value of school property in
Omaha is $430,975, and the city is growing so
rapidly that several more buildings are needed.
Omaha is the headquarters of the army of the
Platte, and disburses about $1,700,000, besides
an annual transportation account with the Union
Pacific Railroad of $675,000. The office of In-
ternal Revenue Collector for Nebraska is also
located here. In 1865 Omaha did not have a sin-
gle manufacturing establishment. In 1880, her
manufactures amounted to about $12,000,000,
the annual increase being from twenty to twenty-
five per cent. Here are located the largest smelt-
ing and refining works on the North American
Continent; the Omaha smelting works, which
employ 150 men, and do an annual business of
$5,500,000. Seven breweries turn out 30,000
barrels of beer. One distillery pays the govern-
ment $850,000 per year, and there are up ward of
fifty smaller enterprises, among which is a nota-
ble industry the manufacture of brick over
12,000,000 brick being turned out of four brick
yards. The bank capital and surplus exceed
$800, 000. In overland times before the building
of the Pacific Railroad, or just at its commence-
ment, the wholesale trade of Omaha was won-
derful single houses handling as much as
$3,000,000. Since that time the courses of trade
have been so divided that the largest sales now
of any wholesale establishment do not exceed
$1,500,000. Perhaps, the best index of the
enormous trade Omaha is gaining is in the in-
crease of the shipments and receipts of live
stock, grain, currency, precious metals, etc.,
etc. The receipts of cattle at Omaha were as
follows :


During 1876 60,300

1877 96,500 35,200

The estimates place the receipts at 150,000 for
1881, and large stock yards will be built the
present year. Omaha packing houses slaugh-
tered 72,000 hogs in 1880. In 1874 the grain
business amounted to about 300,000 bushels per
annum. In six months ending March, 1881,
the receipts amounted to about 4,000,000 bush-
els, and the corn crop of the last year had not
then begun to move. Omaha has two grain
elevators, and an elevator with a storage capa-
city of 1,000,000 bushels is now being erected.

As to the movements of the precious metals
into and through Omaha, we find that the Black
Hills ores are appearing freely in the city, and
since the opening of the Colorado Division of the
Union Pacific Railway from Cheyenne to Den-
ver, it is getting its share of the ore and base
bullion of that State. It is a noticeable fact
that nearly all of the shipments of fine gold and
silver from New Mexico now find their way to
the Eastern cities through Omaha. The gold
and silver products of the country west of


Omaha are again on the increase, as will be seen
by reference to these statistics :


1869 $61,500000

1870 66,000,000

1871 66,663,000

1872 6),94t,877

1873 71642,523

18;4 72,423,206

Ih75 $75,789,057

1876 85,835,^73

1877 93,336,5i4

1878 8 ,154,632

1879 7r>.3L",501

1880 80,167,936

Showing an increase in the gold and silver
production in 1880 over 1869 of $18,667,936. In
1830, the estimated lead yield was $5,742,390,
of which the Omaha smelting works manufac-
tured SI, 000,000 into lead bars for shipment
East. This amount being equal to the lead yield
of Illinois and Missouri combined.

In tracing the routes over which the precious
metals of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada
and the West come, they rnu'st not be considered
possible and temporary, but as the actual and per-
manent routes over which these metals have been
passing into and through Omaha, viz. :


During 1873,
" 1874,
" 1875,
" 1876,
" 1877,


Showing an increase in 1877 over 1873 of

The increase in the eastward flow of gold in
1877 over 1876 was $5,227,102. The decrease in
silver for the same time owing to the Asiatic de-
mand and the coinage of trade dollars at San
Francisco, was $11,890,834. Had not these in-
fluences been at work, it is safe to assume that
the passage of gold and silver into and through
Omaha for 1877 would have amounted to
$64,000,000 or two-thirds of the entire product
of the country. This does not include the
amount contained in the ore, base bullion and
lead passing over the Union Pacific roads :

During 1875,
" 1876,
" 1877,

64,429,400 pounds.
71,758,352 "
111,006,050 "

Showing an increase in 1877 over 1875 of
46,576,650 pounds. Of the amount in 1875,
the Omaha smelting works received 29,638,826
pounds. The gain being proportionate for the
two succeeding years. In 1875, not a car load
of ore or bullion was handled at Kansas City
from the Kansas Pacific Railroad. In 1877 the
receipts of ore in that city were 23,964,250
pounds, mostly for shipment east.

The Omaha smelting works are the largest on
the Continent, as previously stated. They are
being constantly enlarged to meet the increasing
demands of business. In 1875 the works in Col-
orado reduced $1,650,000 of ore and bullion. In

1874, the Omaha works reduced $42,135,000. In

1875, $4,028,314. In 1876, $4,832,000. In 1877,
$5,500,000. For 1875-76-77 their lead manu-
facture amounted to 35,262 tons or 70,524,000

pounds, so that Omaha now produces about one
sixth of all the lead used in the United States.
Heretofore this lead has been shipped east, but
the new white lead works are using a large por-
tion of it and in the near future there is no
reason why Omaha may not be one of the prin-
cipal lead manufacturing markets in the coun-
try. The statement of currency received at and
shipped from Omaha is as follows, viz. :

In 1873,

" 1874,
" 1875,
" 1876,
" 1877,


Showing an increase in 1877 over 1873 of

There was deposited in the Omaha banks, viz. t

During 1874, $55,308,960.48

" 1875, 63,333,492.08

" 1876, 72,808,500.00

" 1877, 80,548,485.50

Showing an increase in 1877 over 1874 of

Exchange sold by the same :

During 1874, $25,768,426.92

" 1877, 38,181,671.38

Showing an increase in 1877 over 1874 of

The public improvements show this record :

During 1879 $1,064,540

1880 1,0.4,880

During 1875 $360,000

1876 23H.OOO

1877 785,000

An increase in 1880 over 1875 of $654,880;
over 1876, $776,830. Careful estimates place
the improvement record of 1831 at no less than
$1,500,000. Judging by the tide of immigra-
tion now rushing into Nebraska through the
efforts of eastern colonization societies and
others, the realization will go beyond that figure,
as the trade of the city is rapidly extending in
every direction and the indications are that the
present will be the most prosperous year in the
history of the West.

In 1860, the transportation trade of Omaha
amounted to 732,000 pounds. In 1877, the re-
ceipts and shipments from and to the West pass-
ing into and through Ornaha were 2,172,720,000
pounds. In 1875, the Omaha merchants im-
ported 17,450 carloads of merchandise.

The mercantile and manufacturing trade of
the city in round numbers is as follows :

In 1875 $17,000,000 I In 1877 $30,000,00-

"1876 25,000,000 | "1880 32,000,000

This increase of $13,000.000 in two years was
during a period of universal depression. But
notwithstanding the hard times, Omaha has be-
come the chief commercial city of the Missouri

The " Omaha Union Stock Yards " were in-
corporated May 4, 1878, and began at once the
erection of large and well arranged yards, on
their grounds located on the Union Pacific track


near the city limits. A dummy car line extend-
ing from the Union depot to Hanscom Park,
connects the yards with the hotels and banks of
the city. The packing, slaughtering and can-
ning of beef is destined to grow into immense
proportions at this point, as also undoubtedly
will tanning and glue manufacture.

Omaha has now a system of water works
which cost $600,000; also, a hotel and opera
house, each of which cost $100,000.

The U. P. M. JR. Bridge Across the

Missouri River. The huge bridge, which
spans the Missouri, is a fitting entrance to the
wonders beyond a mechanical wonder of itself,
it fills every traveler with a sense of awe and
majesty, as the first great scene of the overland

The last piece of iron of the last span which
completed the bridge was fastened in its place
on the 20th of February, 1872. Previous to that
time, all passengers and traffic were transferred
across the treacherous and shifting shores of the
Missouri River in steam-boats with flat keel, and
with the ever-shifting currents and sand-bars,
safe landings were always uncertain. The bridge
comprises 11 spans, each s-pan 250 feet in length,
and elevated 50 feet above high water-mark.
These spans are supported by one stone masonry
abutment, and 11 piers with 22 cast-iron col-
umns ; each pier is 8 1-2 feet in diameter, and
made of cast-iron in tubes one and three-fourths
inches in thickness, 10 feet in length, with a
weight of eight tons. As fast as the tubes of
the columns are sunk,, they are fitted together,
seams made air-tight, and process continued till
the complete depth and height is attained. Dur-
ing the building of the bridge from February,
1869, when work first commenced, until com-
pletion in 1872 (excepting a period of eight
months suspension), about 500 men were con-
stantly employed. Ten steam-engines were iu
use for the purpose of operating the pneumatic
works to hoist the cylinders, help put the super-
structure into position, to drive piles for tempo-
rary platforms and bridges, and to excavate sand
within the columns. The columns were sunk
into the bed of the river after being placed in
correct position by the following method : The
top of the column being made perfectly air-tight,
all water beneath is forced out by pneumatic
pressure. Then descending into the interior, a
force of workmen excavate the sand and earth,
filling buckets which are quickly hoisted up-
wards by the engines. When the excavation
has reached one or more feet, the column sinks
gradually inch by inch, more or less rapidly, un-
til a solid bottom is reached.

The least time in which any column was sunk
to bed rock from the commencement of the pneu-
matic process was seven days, and the greatest
single depth of sinking at one time was 17 feet.

The greatest depth below low water which was
reached by any column, at bed rock, was 82 feet.
The greatest pressure to which the- men working
in the columns were subjected, was 54 pounds per
square inch in excess of the atmosphere. When
solid foundation is once obtained, the interior of
the columns are filled with solid stone concrete
for about 25 feet, and thence upward with ce-
ment masonry, till the bridge is reached.

The total length of the iron structure cf the
bridge is 2,750 feet. The eastern approach is by
an embankment of gradual ascent one and a,
half miles in length, commencing east of the
Transfer grounds, and almost at Council Bluffs,
and thence ascending at the rate of 35 feet to
the mile to the bridge.

Metumiva. The old depot grounds of the
Union Pacific Railroad were on the bank of the
river immediately beneath the bridge. When
this was constructed, in order to connect the bridge
and main line of the railroad, it was necessary to
construct, directly through the city, a branch line
of road 7,000 feet in length, and construct a
new depot on higher ground, of which as
a result, witness the handsome, new structure,
and spacious roof, and convenient waiting-
rooms. From the first abutment to the bank,
a trestle-work of 700 feet more, 60 feet in
height was constructed; thus the entire length
of the bridge, with necessary approaches, is
9,950 feet. Total cost is supposed to be
about $2,650,000, and the annual revenue
about 1400,000. The bridge has figured nota-
bly in the discussions of Congress, whether
or not it should be considered a part of
the Union Pacific Railroad. The recent de-
cision of the United States Supreme Court
has at last declared it so to be, and with this is
done away entirely the " Omaha Bridge Trans-
fer " of the past.

Preparing for the Westward Trip.
Having rested and visited the principal points
of interest in Omaha, you will be ready to take
a fresh start. Repairing to the new depot,
finished, at the crossing of Ninth street, you
will find one of the most magnificent trains of
cars made up by any railroad in the United
States. Everything connected with them is
first-class. Pullman sleeping-coaches are at-
tached to all express trains, and all travelers
know how finely they are furnished, and how
they tend to relieve the wearisome monotony of
tedious days in the journey from ocean to ocean.
At this depot you will find the waiting-rooms,
ticket-offices, baggage-rooms, lunch-stands, news
and bookstand, together with one of the best
kept eating-houses in the country. You will find
gentlemanly attendants at all these places, ready
to give you any information, and cheerfully
answer your questions. If you have a little time,
step into the Union Pacific Land office adjoining
the depot, on the east, and see some of the pro-


ductions of this prolific western soil. If you
have come from the far East, it has been a slightly
uphill journey all the way, and you are now at
an elevation of 966 feet above the sea. If the
weather is pleasant, you may already begin to
feel the exhilarating effect of western breezes,
and comparatively dry atmosphere. With books
and papers to while away your leisure hours, you
are finally ready for the start. The bell rings,
the whistle shrieks, and off you go. The road
first winds up a
little valley, passing
the Bridge Junction
1.5 (one and five-
tenths) miles to

Summit Sid-
ing, 3.2 miles
from Omaha ; eleva-
tion 1,142 feet. This
place, you will ob-
serve by these fig-
ures, is reached by
a heavy up grade.
You are 176 feet
higher than when
you first started, and
but little over three
miles away. Here is
a deep cut through
the hill, and beyond
it you strike Mud
Creek Valley with
a down grade for a
few miles. This
creek and the road
run south on a line
nearly parallel with,
and about two and
a half miles from,
the Missouri River
until the next sta-
tion is reached.

Gilmore. It is
9.5 miles from Oma-
ha, with only 10 feet
difference in eleva-
tion 97 '6 feet. The
valley is quite thick-
ly settled, and as you

look out on the left " G0

side of the cars, about four miles from Omaha,
you will see a saloon called Half-Way House.
At about this point you leave Douglas County
and enter Sarpy County. Gilmore was named
after an old resident of that locality, now dead.
Here you are some nine miles south of Omaha,
but only about three west of the Missouri
River. Here you will first see what are called
the bottom lands of Nebraska. They are as
rich as any lands on this Continent, as the re-
markable crops raised thereon fully attest.
From this station you turn nearly due west, and

pass over the lower circle of what is called tho

Papilion? 14.5 miles from Omaha; eleva-
tion 972 feet, is the next station, and is a thriv-
ing little town (pronounced Pa-pil-yo). It derives
its name from the creek on whose banks it is situ-
ated. This creek was named by Lewis and Clark
in their expedition to Oregon, in 1804, and is
derived from a Latin word which means butter-
fly. The main branch was crossed a little west
of Gilmore. It emp-
ties into the Mis-
souri River about
one mile north of
the Platte River. It
is reported that the
early explorers
named, saw an im-
mense number of
butterflies in the
muddy and wet
places near its
mouth, and hence
the name. These
gentlemen explored
this stream to its
source, near the Elk-
horn River. The
town was laid out
in the fall of 1869
by Dr. Beadle, and
is the permanent
county-seat of Sar-
py County. It lias
a fine brick court-
house, and a brick
school-house, hotels,
flouring mills and a
grain ware-house ; is
located as are all
the towns on the
first two hundred
miles of this road,
in the midst of a
rich agricultural
country. Sarpy
County has two
newspapers one
the Papilion Times,
published weekly at
this place, and the other, the Sarpy County Senti-
nel, published at Sarpy Center, some five miles in
the country from this station. Sarpy is one
of the best settled counties in Nebraska, and
has a property valuation of over $8,000,000.

Mittard\& named for Hon. Ezra Millard,
president of the Omaha National Bank, who has
considerable landed property here. The station-
house is comparatively new, and there are a few
other buildings recently erected. It is pleas-
antly located, and, like all western towns, has
plenty of room to grow. It is 20.9 miles from


Omaha ; elevation, 1,047 feet. Evidences of
thrift are everywhere visible as you cast your
eyes over the rolling prairies, and yet there is
ample room for all who desire to locate in this
vicinity. You have again crossed the boundary
line of Sarpy County, which is a mile or two
south-east of Millard, and are again in the
County of Douglas.

Elkhorn. 28.9 miles from Omaha, eleva-
tion 1,150 feet. This is a growing town, and
does a large business in grain ; it has an ele-
vator, grain warehouses, two stores, a Catholic
church, good school-house, and a hotel. You
are now near the famous Elkhorn Valley and
River. By a deep cut, the railroad makes its
way through the bluff or hill on the east side
of this stream, about a mile from the station,

The elevation of Waterloo is laid down at 1,140
feet. The town has a fine water-power which
has been improved by the erection of a large
flouring-mill. It also has two steam flouring-
mills, and a new depot. At this point you
enter the Platte Valley, of which so much
has been written and which occupies such a
prominent place in the history of the country.
The Elkhorn and Platte Rivers form a junc-
tion a few miles south of this point, and the
banks of these streams are more or less studded
with timber, mostly cottonwood. In fact, the
Elkhorn has considerable timber along its

Valley is 35.2 miles from Omaha, and is
1,120 feet above the sea. It has a store and
hotel, and is the center of a rich farming dis-


and then on a down grade you glide into
the valley. The rolling prairies are now be-
hind you and south, beyond the Platte River,
which for the first time comes into view. Cross-
ing the Elkhorn River you arrive at

Waterloo, 30.9 miles from Omaha, and
only two miles from the last station. A few
years since, a train was thrown from the bridge
spoken of by reason of the high water of a
freshet. This train had one car of either young
fish or fish-eggs in transit ; the contents of this
car were of course lost in the river, and since
that time the Elkhorn abounds in pike, pickerel,
bass, sunfish and perch. What the California
streams lost by this disaster the Elkhorn gained,
as these fish have increased rapidly in this
stream, where they were previously unknown.

trict. The land seems low, and one would easily
gain the impression that the soil here was very
wet, but after digging through the black surface
soil two or three feet you come to just such sand
as is found in the channel of the Platte. In
fact, the whole Platte Valley is underdrained by
this river, and this is one reason why surface
water from hard and extensive rains so quickly
disappear, and why the land is able to produce
such good crops in a dry season. Water is ob-
tained anywhere in this valley by sinking
what are called drive-wells, from six to twenty
feet. Wind-mills are also extensively used
by large farmers, who have stock which
they confine upon their premises, and which
otherwise they would have to drive some
distance for water. The Omaha and Republi-


can Valley Kailroad runs to Stromsburg and

Mercer, which is 41.4 miles from Omaha,
with an elevation of about 1,140 feet. It will
eventually become a . station, as many trains
already meet and pass here.

Prairie Firez. During the first night's
ride westward from Omaha, the traveler, as
he gazes out of his car window (which he
can easily do while reclining in his berth) will
often find his curious attention rewarded by a
sight of one of the most awful, yet grandest
scenes of prairie life. The prairies, which in
the day-time to some, seemed dry, dull, uninter-
esting, occasionally give place at night, to the
lurid play of the fire-fiend, and the heavens
and horizon seem like a furnace. A prairie on
fire is a fearfully exciting and fear-stirring sight.
Cheeks blanch as the wind sweeps its volume
toward the observer, or across his track. Full in
the distance is seen the long line of bright flame
stretching for miles, with its broad band of dark
smoke-clouds above. As the train comes near,
the flames leap higher, and the smoke ascends
higher, and on their dark bosom is reflected the
fires' brilliantly-tinged light. Sweeping away for
miles towards the bluffs, the fire jumps with the
wind, and the flames leap 20 to 30, or more
feet into the air, and for miles brighten the
prairies with tne awful sight. We have never
seen anything of prairie life or scenery possessing
such majestic brilliance as the night glows, and
rapid advances of a prairie fire. Far out on
the prairies, beyond the settlements, the prairie
fires, (usually set on fire by the sparks from
the locomotives) rage unchecked for
miles and miles, but nearer to the little
settlements, where the cabins have
justbeeii set up, the fire is their deadli-
est and most dreaded enemy. No words
can describe, no pencil paint the look of
terror when the settler beholds advanc-
ing toward him the fire-fiend, for which
he is unprepared and unprotected.
"When the first sign of the advancing
fire is given, all hands turn out ; either
a counter fire is started, which, eating
from the settler's ranch, in the face of
the wind, toward the grander coming
volume, takes away its force, and leaves
it nothing to feed upon, or furrows
are broken with the plow around the
settler's home. The cool earth thrown
up, and all the grass beyond this is
fired, while the little home enclosed
within, is safe. A curious feature of
prairie fires is, that the buffalo grass,
the next season, is darker and richer
than ever before ; and lower down, in
sections where the prairie fires are
carefully kept off, trees, shrubs, bushes, etc.,
of many varieties, grow up spontaneously,

which never were seen before. So long as
prairie fires rage, nothing will grow but the little
tufts of prairie grass. Wherever the prairie fire
ceases or is kept restrained, vegetation of all de-
scription as far west as the Platte, is completely
changed. In the fall of the year these fires are
most frequent ; and creating a strong current or
breeze by their own heat, they advance with the
rapidity often of a locomotive, 20 or more miles
an hour, and their terrible lurid light by night,
and blackened path left behind, as seen next day
by the traveler, are sights never to be forgotten.
In the lower river counties a prairie fire often
originates from the careless dropping of a match,
or the ashes shaken from a pipe. The little
spark touches the dry grass like tinder the con-
stant breeze fans the little flame, and five minutes
after it has covered yards. The loss to tillers of
the soil is often appalling. One of General
Sherman's veterans, in describing a prairie fire to
a visitor, raising himself to his full six feet
height, and with eye flashing as in battle excite-
ment, said : " Mr. C., if I should catch a man firing
the prairie at this time, as God helps me, I would
shoot him down in his deed." A traveler riding

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 4 of 61)