Henry T Williams.

Pacific tourist : Adams and Bishop's illustrated trans-continental guide of travel, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean : a complete traveler's guide of the Union and Central Pacific railroads online

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Online LibraryHenry T WilliamsPacific tourist : Adams and Bishop's illustrated trans-continental guide of travel, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean : a complete traveler's guide of the Union and Central Pacific railroads → online text (page 3 of 62)
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All meals on Union Pac-ili.- K;iiln>ad, 1 00

All meals on Central Pacific Railroad, first day,

rurrciifv, 1 00

All meal* on Central Pacific Ruilroad.atColfax,
All meals on Central Pacific Railroad, Luthrop, 60


Curiosities of History. To whom the
honor belongs of first proposing the plan of a rail-
road to the Pacific, history can never fully deter-
mine. Whitney offered to build it for a grant of
thirty miles in width along its track, and it was
looked upon as the freaky fancy of a monomaniac.
Benton, too, the famous statesman, was once
aglow with enthusiasm over the subject, and be-
gan to agitate the project, but it was considered
the harmless fancy of an old politician. And in
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 Plumbe, 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.

Jn 1814, 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
\\okd up to the need of thorough explorations
and investigations. In March, 1853, Congress
made its fir-st appropriation to explore the Far
West, and ascertain if there was really a practi-
cable route to the Pacific. In 1854, Congress ap-
propriated f 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 Pnget 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 thoiough 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
1363,750,000. 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 1'acific Kail
road in saving to the United States Government :

Since the building of the road, the cost of
transportation to the government has been as
follows :

Amount cash paid to railroad companies for
one-half charge of transportation per
year, about $1,200,0 >0 per annum, say for
7 years 1869 to 18/0, $8,400,000

The cost to the government of military trans-
portation in 1X70, was $8,000,000 per
annum, and increasing over 91,000,000 per
year. In 1876, would have been over $14,-
000,000. Average for 7 years, at $10,000,000
per year, $70,000,000

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

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 my country.
What are 175,000,000 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 bo/h sacings and sales, enough money to liquidate
one-third the whole principal, and accrued interest
of the government loan, and in lets than twenty
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 the
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 Pacific 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 or: 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 ihat 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 faitfi 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.

Knpid 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 Moiues, 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 lie
brought by river from the East ; yet it was all

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

In 1865, 40 miles of track were laid to Fre-
mont. In 1868, 260 miles were laid. In 1867,
210 miles were laid, which included the ascent
to Sherman. By January 1, 1868, there had
been completed 540 miles. In 1868, to May 10,
186 J. 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 day*.

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 Build-in f/. 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 natnred, 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 ftven,

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 $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, one of extraordinary magnitude
and rapidity. The 29th day of April, 1869, was
selected for the decision of the contest, as ihere
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, sei/.e 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 fit/lit miles of track in juat fix hours.
Resuming work again, after the noon rest, the
track-laying progressed, and Jit 7 P. M., exactly,
the Central men finished their task of 10 miles,
\\ith 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 5dO 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 m route from New York
via Cape Horn, with iron, locomotives, rails and


l.-General View of Omaha and the Missouri Valley. 2.-Pos, -Office. 3 -High School Hui)di,.g.
4. Grand Cenlnil Hotel. 5. Missouri Hiver Bridge.


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 less than five year*, of
which all but H>0 miles was done between Jan-
uary 1, 1866 and May 10, 1869 three years, fuur
months and ten day*.


Railroads. The first railroad that reached
this city from the East was the Chicago and
North-Western, the first train over it arriving
on Sunday, January 17. 1867. Then followed the
Kansas City, Council Bluffs and St. Joseph, the
Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific and the Bur.
lington and Missouri River of Iowa (operated
by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincv.) After
these came the Sioux City and Pacific, the Omaha
and North- Western and the Omaha and South-
AVestern, and the Omaha and Republican Val-
ley. The Omaha and South-Western is now
operated by the Burlington and Missouri River
Railroad in Nebraska. The latter extends to
Lincoln the capital of the State ; then westward
uniting with the Union Pacific at Kearny Junc-
tion. It has a branch from its main lines from
Crete to Beatrice, a thriving town near the
southern boundary of the State. It also con-
trols another line running from Brownville on
the Missouri River, north to Nebraska City,
thence west through Lincoln (where it connects
with the main line) to York in thu central part
of the State. The Omaha and North-Western
is completed about 40 miles, and follows .the
Missouri on the west side of that river, north
from Omaha. It is being extended every year,
and its claim that it will soon be one of the
favorite routes to the Black Hills, as its tendency
is towards the beautiful valley of the Elkhorn,
one of the garden-spots of Nebraska. Other
railroads are contemplated, among them the Ne-
braska Trunk Railroad down the west bank of the
Missouri from Omaha to Atchison. When com-
pleted it will form close connection with the
Missouri Pacific, giving a competing route to St.
Louis and the seaboard. 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 Atch ; son road is
belli? extended to meet the Southern Pacific,
Omaha will have another outlet to the Pacific
Coast. Another line is the St. Lonis, Chillicothe
and Omaha, commonly called "the Chillicothe
route." The indications are that it will be fin-

ished soon, which will shorten up the distance
to St Louis about 65 miles. The Omaha and
Republican Valley operated by the Union Pacific
Company, runs from Omaha to David City about
100 miles west, and it is already doing a large
and increasing business. It will be extended
westward as the country develops, and popula-
tion increases. A branch of this line is contem-
plated from Valparaiso to Lincoln.

Besides these railroads, Omaha has the Mis-
souri River 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 river, stands unrivaled.
As a matter of interest we mention the fact thnt
in 1875 there were 55,000 local arrivals and de-
partures. In 1876 there were 70.0 '0, and in 1878,
73,330. The city is the Eastern gateway of the
mineral bearing regions of the West, and the
products of British C olumbia, 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 hun-
dred miles of which Omaha is the center, there
are upwards of 12,000,000 people and 26,000
miles of railroads 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, Nevada 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

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 this fine
structure. The general offices of the Burlington
and Missouri River in Nebraska, the Omaha
and North-Western, the Omaha and South-
western and the Omaha and Republican Valley
Railroads are also located here. In addition to
these the general agencies of the Chicago, >ioux
City, St. Louis and Eastern lines, have hand>ome
offices, which are located in the Grand Central
Hotel building. The Blue, Red, Empire and
other fast freight lines are represented in the
city, and it is probable that the Baltimore and
Ohio, W abash 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 Republican Valley Railroad
have taken steps looking to the early completion


of a series of railroad lines that will " gridiron "
the State. One line will run to Atchison, Kan-
sas. Another to Lincoln, another into the Re-
publican Valley, another to Grand Island and up
the Loup Fork, and another to the Nebraska
River in the north.

Manufactures. In manufactures Omaha
is now the most extensive manufacturing point
on the Missouri river, the amount for 1878 being
in the neighborhood of $9,000,00 ). She has an
oil mill which supplies the extensive demand for
linseed oil and oil cake, and promotes the growth
of flax in Nebraska, necessitating 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, several breweries, two distilleries,
foundries and mac'iine shops, carriage and wagon
shops ; three packing houses, flour mills and
other manufactories in active operation or con-
templated. Among the latter. ;ire a nail mill,
starch factory, etc., etc. Among the principal
establishments in operation are the machine
shops, car works and foundry of th3 Union Pacific
Railroad, and the Omaha smelting works. The
shops of the railroa 1 occupy, with the round-
house, about thirty acres of land on the bottom
adjoining the tabli 1 ind on which most of the city
proper is built. Their disbursements amount
to $2,60 (,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

Online LibraryHenry T WilliamsPacific tourist : Adams and Bishop's illustrated trans-continental guide of travel, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean : a complete traveler's guide of the Union and Central Pacific railroads → online text (page 3 of 62)