Personal Opinions on Contemporary
Printed for Private Circulation
San Francisco, California
WORK ON THE MOUNTAINS AND PLAINS FOR THE CENTRAL PACIFIC RAILROAD.
CHAPTER 3. CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD WORK IN OAKLAND, SAN FRANCISCO AND ELSEWHERE.
CHAPTER 4. RAILROAD OWNERS OF THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROADS.
WORK ON THE MOUNTAINS AND PLAINS
CENTRAL PACIFIC RAILROAD.
On May 2, 1866, I commenced work for Mr. S. S. Montague, Acting Chief Engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad, being assigned to help J. R. Wilkinson around Sacramento and up the line as far as Rocklin. The line was then in operation to Colfax but was soon extended to Secrettown. On July 5, 1866, I was sent to Polley's Station at Crystal Lake on the Dutch Flat and Donner Lake wagon road to report to L. M. Clement, there to work with McCloud's party on construction work just starting there. I went by train to Secrettown and by stage from there paying $6.20 stage fare and stopping at Dutch Flat for dinner. I lived in a log cabin on the cast side of Crystal Lake from this time until December 23, 1866, when I moved with McCloud's party to Camp 41 to go into winter quarters to give lines and grades in Tunnels 3, 4 and 5 and to work on estimates. The summer of 1866, to me, was a strenuous one. S. S. Montague, Acting Chief Engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad, the original California corporation, was in control of all engineering work. His office was upstairs at 54 K Street, Sacramento, but he went wherever necessary to supervise the business under his control. A. Steiner was Chief Draftsman and J. R. Wilkinson, also a fine draftsman, was in charge of the local work within easy reach of Sacramento. L. M. Clement was Resident Engineer of the work from Alta to Truckee, with A. R. Guppy [portrait, right] under him as Locating Engineer; on the subdivisions were George Johnson at Emigrant Gap, McCloud at Crystal Lake and Guppy at the Summit, as soon as the location there was finished. During the summer, Stevenson, who had been on the Hoosac Tunnel work for the State of Massachusetts, was sent by Mr. Montague to report to Clement and he took a piece of work between McCloud and Tincker's at Summit Valley. Charles Cadwalader, Phelps, Buck and several others were on the work lower down, reporting direct to Mr. Montague. John F. Kidder, later the principal owner of the Grass Valley Nevada City Railroad, had run lines down the Truckee River for Mr. Montague. Butler Ives was one of the principal topographical engineers of the company and out-ranked any of Mr. Montague's men he came in contact with at that time, with the possible exception of Clement and Cadwalader.
The entire construction work was supposed to be done by contract in the name of Charles Crocker & Company and the engineering department was required to make monthly estimates as the work progressed and to make a final when completed. The culverts and other masonry work were sub-let by Charles Crocker or his representative, J. H. Strobridge, to stone masons like Quinn and Scobie, but the engineer on the division had to lay out and approve the work. In the spring of 1868 the Contract and Finance Company succeeded Charles Crocker & Company as the general contractor for all the work: with Wm. E. Brown as Secretary and Chief of Accounting, J. H. Strobridge, General Superintendent, and Arthur Brown in charge of all carpenter and bridge work except the masonry. During the summer of 1866, Mr. Strobridge, I think, resided at Alta most of the time, but moved to the Summit later and had his headquarters there during the construction of the Summit Tunnel, or No. 6, as it was called. That was during the winter of 1866-1867. Clement also had his office there during that time and John R. Gilliss was in charge of the office. A. R. Guppy did the outside engineering work.
The sinking of the working shaft near the middle of Tunnel No. 6 at the Summit was commenced August 27, 1866. The old locomotive "Sacramento," converted into a hoisting engine, was used in sinking that shaft. Mr. Strobridge had assistants who travelled over the work who were known as "Riding Bosses." Mike Stanton, Frank Frates and Mr. Spaulding were on portions of the work I had to furnish with lines and grades during the summer of 1866. More powder was used than was economical, but time was the essential of all operations so there was a good reason for the excessive use of powder by the rock foreman, as it did not cost them anything. But the frequent and heavy blasting made it very difficult to keep the work to correct lines and grades and when the rock cuts were completed there were a large number of fills uncompleted. The calculation was that the material removed from a cut was to be used to make the nearest fill, but that was impossible after it had been blown away by heavy blasts so it was necessary to use a large number of horses and carts for the long haul required to get material to complete the fills as the track-laying gang was approaching.
Some of the events I find recorded in my remembrancer of the year 1866 are as follows:
Thursday, September 10th. Went with J. R. Wilkinson up to the new depot grounds at Cisco to help him locate a section corner of the U. S. Land Survey. Wilkinson came from Sacramento to our camp on the 10th on the stage, and will return in a day or two.During the years 1866 and 1867, my position was that of assistant to McCloud on construction. I had known him in Sacramento before either of us entered the employ of the Central Pacific Company under Mr. Montague. His usefulness was so impaired by the drink habit that, at times, I had all the work to do, both transit and level, but he was an experienced railroad engineer while my previous experience had been as a surveyor. After the track had been extended over our division, late in 1867, 1 went to Guppy's camp on the Summit but the new track was soon covered by snow and the operating end remained at Cisco or below. Finally we abandoned that camp and crawled out on the snow in a rain storm.
September 16th. J. R. Scupham and George Strong are here, getting ready to start out on the plains to get some information for Mr. Montague. On the 17th I saw them saddle the pack mules for the trip, taking with them, among other things, a barometer.
September 20th. Put in the finishing stakes through Yuba Pass.
September 24th. At Butte Cañon, the masonry foundations are in and the carpenters are ready to commence raising bents.
October 7th. Helped McCloud lay off some town lots above the railroad line at Cisco. We got our dinner at Madden's Hotel.
October 29th. Mr. Montague came here tonight with L. M. Clement and Charles Cadwalader. By Mr. Montague's orders Robert Finley and Henry Pitcher leave us for the Summit tomorrow morning.
November 8th. I went to the lower end of our division and commenced putting points on the center line for the track layers who are approaching. The operated end of the track, is now at Alta.
November 14th. George Johnson came to our camp to get our notes so as to connect his line to them. The track layers are now on his division.
November 17th. The end of the track is now Station 4619.
November 21st. Track at Miller's Bluffs tonight.
November 27th. I, Henry Root, am 21 years old today. The track is across the Butte Cañon trestle.
November 29th. The first train reached Cisco today.
December 18th. It has been storming for several days and the new laid track is broken in several places so the trains from Sacramento stop at Alta again. Conductor Wood's train is blockaded at Emigrant Gap.
December 24th. Abandoned the engineers' camp at Crystal Lake and moved to Camp 41. It has stormed most of the time for the past three weeks and the new railroad is badly washed out. Some bents of the Butte Cañon trestle are out.
During the summer of 1867 an isolated section of the railroad had been constructed from Truckee to Camp 24 near the Nevada line and the rails and a little rolling stock hauled by team over the wagon road for it.
The spring of 1868 brought some changes in management. Charles Cadwalader was put in charge of all the engineers on construction by Mr. Montague. I had orders to report to him at the end of the Truckee track at Camp 24. 1 went over the Summit to Truckee on the stage and from there on, in a box car. Mr. Strobridge and Mr. Sisson who furnished Chinamen and their supplies were in the same car. I slept that night in a shed at Camp 24, the weather being very cold, and the next day went to Hunter's Station laying out culverts and cross sectioning. In a few days moved on to Reno and then to the sheep ranch at the head of the Cañon below the Truckee meadows where we remained several weeks, sleeping in a large wagon and laying out culverts and cross sectioning. I had only two men, Armstrong and Cooke, and got my orders from Cadwalader. I was soon sent ahead across the desert and camped at Lovelocks, near the sink of Humboldt, then on to the first crossing of the Humboldt River where I laid out a temporary line and bridge of 50 feet span to be used till the permanent bridge was built so as not to delay the track. This was about June 1, 1868.
The entire summer of 1868 was passed on construction work up the Humboldt, moving frequently as the work was light and the track laying -was now being rushed. The gap over the Summit to Truckee was closed in June, so that rails and other building materials could be shipped from Sacramento to the end of the track without rehandling. Mr. Minkler who had been a "Riding Boss" was put in charge at the moving end of the track and R. H. Pratt was in charge of team transportation. This rush continued through 1868 and the early part of 1869, until on the 10th of May, 1869, the tracks of the Central and Union Pacific Railroads met and were connected on Promontory Mountain and the ceremony of driving the golden spike took place. Soon after general traffic, both freight and passenger, of the first transcontinental railroad was commenced from Omaha to Sacramento.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD
OAKLAND, SAN FRANCISCO AND ELSEWHERE.
In December, 1868, while I was camped at Bishop Creek, I was ordered to pack up and go to the end of the track at North Fork and go to Sacramento. From there Mr. Montague sent me as transit man with A. R. Guppy to Oakland. In the party with me were Lewis Tashiera, Jack Wade, John Harding, Billy Morgan and others and the whole party went to the "Hotel de France" to board, on First Street near Broadway in Oakland.
In August, 1868, Governor Stanford and his associates had purchased from A. A. Cohen, a majority of the stock of the Oakland Railroad and Ferry Company operating a ferry from the foot of Pacific Street, San Francisco, to the pile wharf, some 3000 feet from the shore, through Seventh Street, Oakland to San Antonio or Brooklyn; also, a Creek Ferry, landing at the foot of Broadway, Oakland, with a terminus at La Rue's wharf, San Antonio.
In August, 1869, Cohen and others sold a majority of the stock of the San Francisco-Alameda & Haywards Railroad to the same parties. Mr. Cohen remained as president of said corporation and also received a salary from Stanford and associates as their attorney. At that time, December, 1868, there was no connection in car transportation between Oakland and Alameda and no bridge across the Estuary. The County Seat of Alameda County was at San Leandro. The easiest way of getting from Oakland to San Leandro or Haywards was by train and ferry to San Francisco; there take the Alameda ferry to Alameda Point at the foot of Pacific Avenue; there take the train through Pacific and Railroad avenues (now called Lincoln Avenue), crossing San Leandro Creek about a thousand feet westerly from where Fourteenth Street now is, and making an S curve into and out of Estudillo Avenue and along what is now Haywards Avenue to the town of Haywards, the terminus. The other alternative route from Oakland to Haywards was to take the train at Seventh Street and Broadway to Brooklyn, then walk along Twelfth Street to Park Street and along it to the Park Street Station of the Alameda Railroad.
We soon had orders to go to Dublin and run a trial line over the hill from there to Haywards to settle the question whether a connection of the Western Pacific line could be made from Pleasanton to Haywards so as to utilize the existing Haywards railroad as the Oakland branch of the Western Pacific lately acquired by Stanford and associates. However, a few days on the Dublin hill made it certain that there was no advantage in such a cut-off route over the Niles Cañon route and we had an order to abandon the trial line and return to Oakland and to our quarters at Hotel de France.
During 1869 franchises had been obtained from the City of Oakland along First Street and the waterfront lands to connect with the wharf and ferry landing on the west and a new continuous line to a connection with the Western Pacific location at Vallejo's Mill, later called Niles. The Western Pacific, chartered from Sacramento to San José via Stockton, Livermore Pass and Niles Cañon had been constructed and the track laid on the first twenty miles from San José (the end being a short distance above Vallejo's Mill), by the original owner, Chas. McLaughlin. It had lately been acquired by Stanford and associates and their purpose now was not only to complete the line as contemplated but to connect it from a point near Vallejo's Mill with Oakland and San Francisco by a trunk line of light grades and first class alignment under another name, but to be eventually consolidated with the Western Pacific and finally, the whole merged in the Central Pacific Railroad Company of California. The San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda Railroad Company was the name used in the construction of this new line.
Early in 1869, Guppy's party, of which I was transit man and in charge of the party whenever he was called away, obtained a boarding place at Capt. Scott's house near Vallejo's Mill and went there to commence the final location from the junction point on the old Western Pacific line about a mile above the mill to Oakland. The line, at the start, was on steep hillsides and followed generally the line of the wood flume carrying water from Alameda Creek to Vallejo's Mill. The water-wheel of that mill was a high overshot wheel and was a prominent land mark for the valley in 1868.
On the request of Mr. Montague, Chief Engineer, A. A. Cohen, then in the employ of the Central Pacific
Law Department, obtained a lease for one year of Vallejo's Mill and the appurtenances thereof, which enabled the railroad company to shut down the mill during the construction of the railroad. About this time a contract was made by the Contract and Finance Company (which was Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins and C. P. Huntington, with Judge E. B. Crocker having some interest), with J. H. Strobridge & Company to do the grading. J. B. Harris, who had been a "Riding Boss," was the company and was the man in charge of the work. As soon as a piece of location was finished, I took charge of the engineering during the construction. Mr. Cohen had obtained Vallejo's consent to reconstruct his flume during the year of the railroad leasehold, so the first move was to tear out the whole flume along the hillside and get the grading done as soon as possible and then to build a new flume on the lower side of and about parallel with the railroad line. When I had to set grades for the railroad carpenters to build the new flume, I was surprised to find how little fall there was from the intake to the mill. However, I had seen the water run at a good speed in the old flume and knew it must do the same in the new one. Mr. Guppy was around only a part of the time and I did the transit work and had charge of the party on the long tangent from the end of the curve where Decoto now is to Bay Avenue, now Fiftieth Avenue, of Oakland. At San Leandro Creek the new line was only a short distance from the line of the Haywards Railroad which was then owned by the Central Pacific interests and was abandoned a short time after the final completion of the Niles to Oakland direct line.
While the location of this line was going on, I boarded awhile at the Estudillo House in San Leandro. The only transportation was by the steam cars of the San Francisco, Alameda and Haywards Railroad which crossed our new located line at a place later called Simpson's Switch now about Forty- eighth Avenue of the City of Oakland.
Simpson's Switch is remembered as being near where a bad wreck occurred by a collision of the overland train from Oakland Ferry and the Haywards-Alameda local on Sunday morning, November 14, 1869, only six days after the overland commenced running over this route. At this time the new section of road from Niles to San Leandro was completed, but from there to Simpson was not finished. The fills had settled, so the main line had been connected with the old Hayward-Alameda road at San Leandro and the overland trains from Oakland entered the old local track at Simpson's and got back onto their own line at San Leandro. The HaywardAlameda local trains also used their own line from San Leandro to Simpson's, but at that point did not leave their own track, but continued on to Alameda and were soon out of sight of the junction point.
By the time table the trains in the accident were due at Simpson's Switch at the same time, but, of course, the local was to pass toward Alameda before the overland entered as it was a single track line. The overland arrived on time or a little before, the local was a little
late. The attendant at the switch was an ordinary man whose pay was Dot large enough to justify expecting any great skill or judgment from him. As the overland approached at slow speed on a little down grade (his switch was of the stub kind and was set leading toward Alameda), the overland engineer whistled, which the switchman understood to be an order to throw over his switch to the Oakland track, otherwise, if the overland continued it would run off the open switch. The switchman knew the local had not passed, but perhaps thought it might be considerably late and held at San Leandro, at any rate he threw his switch over to the Oakland track and let the overland in on the Alameda track. As soon as the overland engineer saw the switch target right for him he opened his throttle and gained speed rapidly and soon met the local coming full speed. The weather was clear at San Leandro, but was foggy across the marsh so the speed was not checked at the time of the collision. Both engines were destroyed, and most of the local train and the forward coaches of the overland train were telescoped. Some fourteen people were killed and many injured. Amongst the killed on the overland train was U. S. District Judge Baldwin for the district of Nevada. Robert Owen was conductor of the Alameda local; he was knocked senseless, but recovered and now resides at No. 2605 Central Avenue, corner of Broadway, Alameda.
The principal reason of the disaster was bad management at headquarters, contributed to in some degree by incompetence of employees. However, the switchman was made the "goat. " A. A. Cohen was instructed by Stanford to make settlement of all damage claims as soon as possible, which he did and I think but very few people know the amount of money paid out by the company for that purpose.
At this time I was acting as road-master as well as engineer of new construction and the track men of both the Oakland and Alameda locals were under my charge.
During the summer of 1869 the track was completed from Sacramento, Stockton, Lathrop and Livermore Pass to San José; also, the new line from junction above Niles to San Leandro and the overland freight was routed that way to San Francisco during the month of September, using the old track of the Alameda local from San Leandro to the wharf and slip at the west end of Pacific Avenue.
During the summer, the old steamer "Oakland" (long since gone to the scrap heap), had been strengthened and converted into a car ferryboat capable of carrying four freight cars at a time. Captains John and Ed. Hackett were in charge of the "Oakland" on two shifts. At about the same time a freight slip and small freight yard were being constructed on block 9 at the foot of Second Street in San Francisco. This block, bounded by Townsend, King, Second and Japan Streets, was formerly occupied and owned by Captain Tichnour and used in connection with the waterfront property outside of it as shipways for cleaning and repairing small vessels, but had lately been purchased from him by the company, and the car ferry steamer "Thoroughfare"
was built on those ways in 1869 and 1870. Pat Tiernan was the man in charge of the building of the I I Thoroughfare" and Captain Ed Foster was supervising engineer in charge of the machinery. The engines for the boat were built at the company's shops at Sacramento under A. J. Stevens from patterns of the old steamer "Washoe." The "Oakland" went into service and the freight business via Alameda commenced in the early part of September, 1869, and continued on that route till the freight slip at Oakland wharf and the new line through First Street, Oakland, were constructed and put in operation in 1870.
From November 8, 1869, to the completion of the First Street line, and the extension of Oakland Wharf to deeper water the passenger trains ran over the Seventh Street local track from Brooklyn to Oakland Wharf, now the Mole. The axis of the first car-ferry slip at San Francisco used by the converted steamer "Oakland," was nearly parallel to Second Street as were also the six tracks and freight shed for handling freight of the Central Pacific Railroad Company at the foot of Second Street, San Francisco. But after a short time it was certain more room was necessary which it was not practical to obtain by any extension of the existing layout.
During the year 1869, the trestle on the Seventh Street line of Oakland between Oak Street Station and Clinton Station was reconstructed on a new grade and the opening swing bridge for the passage of small vessels closed. A trestle on the main line from Brooklyn to solid land at the head of the Estuary on the Kennedy Ranch was finished, forming a connection of the Oakland local and the main line. The trestle on the First Street line across the Lake Merritt branch of the Estuary and the connection of the First Street line with the Seventh Street line at West Oakland by a long curve, was all going on during the year 1869. 1 moved my boarding place from the Hotel de France to Mrs. Long's on Seward Street, West Oakland, to be more convenient to the pile driving work then going on.
In 1871, it being settled that a change in the freight yards in San Francisco would have to be made involving much engineering work there, I found a boarding place at 730 Howard Street, between Third and Fourth Streets in San Francisco and I moved over there from Oakland.
In 1871 franchises from the City of San Francisco were obtained for tracks from a new slip to be built near the foot of Second Street, crossing the freight yard then in use and cutting through the freight shed on the line of King Street and along King Street across Third Street and the Omnibus Railroad Company tracks, thence curving on to the tier of blocks between King and Townsend Streets, crossing Fourth Street and branching out into some ten tracks across Fifth and Sixth Streets and connecting with the Southern Pacific lines in Townsend Street; also, a line out of this yard crossing Fourth Street on a curve to the northeast, crossing King, Berry and Channel Streets on a center line at Channel distant 186 1/2 feet from the easterly line of Fourth Street. This last mentioned curved line was
for the purpose of reaching the submerged lands of the Mission Bay grant of thirty acres each to the Western and Southern Pacific Railroad Companies. The Western Pacific was now consolidated with and formed a part of the Central Pacific Railroad.
The Southern Pacific Railroad had a separate organization but the ownership was the same in both companies. At this time S. S. Montague was Chief Engineer of the Central Pacific and Colonel George E. Gray, Chief Engineer of the Southern Pacific. The work on the Mission Bay grant of the two companies was done in common; I looked to Mr. Montague for my orders, but kept Colonel Gray informed of what I was doing.
From 1871 on, for the next five years, my position was that of Assistant Engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad Company, in charge of the local engineering work in San Francisco and Oakland. A. R. Guppy, who was a more experienced locating engineer than I, being needed elsewhere, while I understood construction and track work better than he. My orders came from the Chief Engineer direct, and for a time a portion of my salary was charged to the Southern Pacific through the office of the Contract and Finance Company and later the Western Development Company.
The places where I lived in San Francisco during these years were as follows: At 730 Howard Street in 1871; the Keane House 317 Third Street near Folsom Street, 1872; at Mrs. Seymour's 30 Stanley Place, 1873, 1874 and 1875; at the Hayward House on Third Street, north of Howard Street; at the Hubbard House on the easterly side of Fourth Street near Howard Street; at Mrs. Bissett's, 128 and 130 Tyler Street, now Golden Gate Avenue, 1877, 1878, 1879, 1880 and 1881.
On May 30, 1881, Mrs. Bissett moved her boarding house from the Thomas Knight House 128- 130 Tyler Street, to 311 Stockton Street, west side, between Post and Sutter Streets and my nephew, George Talcott, and I moved with her. He was, at that time, working with me on general work of the engineering department. Later he went back to his home in Williston, Vermont, and died there of consumption in the latter part of the year 1883.
Early in the year 1872, 1 rented from William Giselman, a one-story tenement house, the property of S. C. Hastings, on Haggin Street between King and Berry Streets for an engineer's office for the railroad company and it was so used until the completion of the general office building of the Central and Southern Pacific Railroad Companies, a three-story brick building, completed and occupied in the fall of 1873. My office in the new building was room No. 47 on the third floor at the northerly end of the building, directly over Mr. Montague's office. Colonel Gray's office and the Southern Pacific drafting room were also on the third floor, near the end of the Townsend Street wing.
By the Act of the Legislature granting the sixty (60) acres of submerged land in Mission Bay, it was contemplated that the Western and Southern Pacific Railroad Companies were to make that location their terminal in San Francisco and to build their road, or roads, from there south, by some route to be chosen later. With this idea, Colonel Gray had a map prepared showing line midway on the block between Kentucky and Illinois Streets and the extension of that line across the Islais Creek bed, but that scheme was not carried out, a line west of Kentucky Street being chosen.
At the time I took charge of the work, no filling had taken place south of Channel Street. There was a narrow pile bridge from the northerly line of Channel Street along the extension of Fourth Street to Kentucky Street and thence along Kentucky Street to the shore of the Potrero. This pile bridge was the property of the Mission Bay Bridge Company and had a single opening, a small swing bridge located about a hundred feet south of Channel Street. Channel Street canal was blocked by the pile bridge. This was a toll bridge and the toll house and gate were near the drawbridge. The Potrero and Bayview Railroad, a horse car line, also had tracks over this bridge. However, the ownership of both was now the Central Pacific parties, but they were operated under different franchises so had to keep separate accounts of construction and repairs. There was also a small branch wharf extending out along Merrimac Street known as the Cattle Wharf. About this time I was ordered by Mr. Montague to take charge of the new construction and maintenance of these structures as well as the Market Street Railway Company track of which Thomas Agnew was then operating superintendent, and J. L. Willcutt, managing director. However, the rush work of the year of 1872 was the construction of the new freight yard and a receiving shed on Townsend Street from Fourth to Sixth Street and a delivery shed fronting on King Street opposite. The freight office was upstairs on the King Street side, the two sheds being connected by a foot bridge over the car tracks.
Richard Montague, brother of the chief engineer, was the local freight agent when the buildings were completed and Jacob Wheeler was the yard master. Richard Montague died and was succeeded by John Anthony as local freight agent. The plans of the General Office building were made by Wright & Saunders, architects, and the construction was carried on under Arthur Brown, superintendent of bridges and buildings of the company, E. R. Shain was in charge of the brick work. There was a time limit for the expenditure of $300,000 and the use of the Mission Bay grant for depot purposes, so the work of both filling and pile-driving had to be rushed. However, I had the required tracks constructed on time and the engine "Gray Eagle" from the Townsend Street yard, took a train of loaded freight cars around the curve, across the railroad draw-bridge just constructed, to the warehouse at Kentucky and Merrimac Streets.
At this time the freight business of the Southern Pacific, Northern Division, was on Townsend Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets, this business was done separately from the Central Pacific business. A. C. Bassett was Superintendent of this division and John T. Wilson, Master Mechanic. A. N. Towne was General Superintendent of the Central and Southern Pacific
lines except this northern division. At the time I first commenced work, Charles Crocker was superintendent of the operation as well as the construction. He personally, paid off the men. Soon John Corning came as assistant general superintendent and continued in that position after A. N. Towne came in 1869. Corning died November 17, 1878.
RAILROAD OWNERS OF THE CENTRAL AND
I was fairly well acquainted with Charles Crocker from the fall of 1866 on. I was also acquainted with Mark Hopkins in Sacramento, as Mr. Montague would frequently tell me to come along with him when he consulted Mr. Hopkins about expenditure of money. C. P. Huntington I had only seen a few times prior to the construction of the general office as his residence was in New York. Governor Stanford I knew by sight only, until after the offices were moved to Fourth and Townsend Streets. Soon after this, work was started on the grading and walls and foundations for the private residences of Stanford, Hopkins and Crocker on California Street and I had to give lines and look after that work the same as if it was railroad construction. In this way I became well acquainted with Governor Stanford, as he was usually called, and also better acquainted with Mr. Hopkins and when Mr. Huntington was here from New York, he would send for me and question me about what I had done since he saw me last. He was not satisfied with general answers, he wanted all the details.
Leland Stanford had been Governor of the State of California during the years 1862 and 1863. He was elected on the Republican Ticket and was one of the so-called war governors of the several states of the Union. He was a power in the political affairs of the
State and had some national reputation. He was a man of imposing appearance, deep chest, large shoulders and arms, large face with whiskers and moustache usually trimmed fairly short. He was rather slow of movement and in business was disposed to procrastinate. In this he was the opposite of Charles Crocker, who wanted everything done now. However at that time Stanford was looked upon by the general public as having the most authority of any of the so-called "Big Four."
Charles Crocker, Huntington and Hopkins were well known and successful merchants of Sacramento. E. B. Crocker a brother of Charles Crocker had been a judge of the State Supreme Court and was the legal adviser of the company and its first attorney, he died January 24, 1875. He, like his brother Charles, was a man of great industry and energy.
Mark Hopkins was a thoughtful quiet man of rather slender build, wore long gray whiskers and moustache, and spoke with a slight impediment or lisp. He was the treasurer of the Central Pacific Railroad Company. His nephew E. W. Hopkins was assistant treasurer and did most of the business of the office with the public and that may be the reason Mark Hopkins was known as "Uncle Mark." People spoke to E. W. Hopkins of "Uncle Mark," meaning his Uncle Mark.
C. P. Huntington was quite a distinguished appearing man with broad shoulders and a gray beard and moustache. He liked to talk of what he did when he was young and took great satisfaction with his financial success in the world. He liked to have us think he was close in money matters. As he said, "Nobody can track me by the quarters I have dropped." However when there were several along in a party to lunch or anything of that kind he wanted to pay the bill for all.
Leland Stanford had only one child, Leland Stanford, Junior, who died in 1884, aged about sixteen years. The Stanford University was established at Palo Alto, California, and chartered in November, 1885, the corner stone laid in May, 1887, and instruction began there in the fall of 1891. It was named after him and the largest part of the Stanford fortune was devoted to the endowment of that institution. Leland Stanford, Sr., died at Palo Alto June 21, 1893, aged 69 years and 4 months.
The University as now established and the instruction given there is widely different from what Stanford had in mind when he decided that his fortune should be used for educational purposes. His idea then was to found a practical working school and Girard College in Philadelphia was the model he had in view, and not Harvard or Yale. I have been present when he was discussing that subject with several educators and was present at one of the early talks he had with David Starr Jordan. However, the name Stanford University is probably the most enduring monument to the family name possible.
Collis P. Huntington had one adopted son but he took no part in the business, his nephews, Willard V. Huntington and Henry E. Huntington being his business representatives. Willard was killed in an automobile accident in the State of New York September 28, 1915. Sometime after the death of C. P. Huntington August
149 1900, Henry E. Huntington married his uncle's widow so the largest part of his uncle's fortune is now in his hands. He is now a prominent resident of Los Angeles County and is a director of the Southern Pacific Company and other corporations and is the owner of one of the most, if not the most, valuable private libraries in the United States.
Mark Hopkins had an adopted son, Timothy Hopkins, now a resident of Palo Alto and one of the Trustees of the Stanford University. He was for several years treasurer of the Southern Pacific Company in San Francisco.
Charles Crocker had a family of four children. His oldest son Charles Frederick Crocker died July 17, 1897, leaving a family. George, the second son, died without children, leaving a large bequest for the study of a cure for cancer. William Crocker, the third son, is now president of and a large stockholder in the Crocker National Bank of San Francisco. Hattie married Mr. Alexander of New York and has resided there for many years, but has large property interests in San Francisco.
While the descendants of the original builders and owners of the railroads of this state still have considerable interests in them the control has long since passed to New York interests and the headquarters and management of the Southern Pacific Company is now there. This was brought about by the genius of E. H. Harriman. During the time of his control of the Central Pacific Railroad he financed and caused to be built the so-called Lucin cut-off across Great Salt Lake which was completed about the year 1904.
One thing has impressed me in studying the early railroad history, that is, the truth of that great saying of Brutus to Cassius: "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood leads on to fortune," but I think to say in the affairs of some men would be nearer to a correct statement of the truth. The building of the first railroad across the continent at that time was made possible by a combination of men and circumstances but those peculiar circumstances are of rare occurrence.
The employment of Theodore D. Judah as engineer in building the Sacramento Valley Railroad in 1854 had settled in his mind the fact that the most advantageous location across the Sierra Nevada Mountains for an overland railroad was the Bear River, Donner Pass, and Truckee River route with its one summit instead of two summits as on the other routes, so at the first opportunity he sought the aid of Sacramento men of financial resources to make the necessary preliminary surveys, and to enlist larger capital in the enterprise later on.
Judah realized from the first that favorable legislation both State and National would be necessary to the success of the undertaking. He was not only a competent railroad engineer but a skilful promoter and lobbyist. As soon as he bad collected the necessary preliminary data he went to New York and Washington to promote the required legislation by Congress and to interest New York capitalists in the undertaking.
I Aaron A. Sargent of Nevada City, California, Congressman from his district in California, was a faithful friend of the enterprise from start to finish. The California Senators McDougall and Conness also rendered assistance, but it was uphill work and there is little doubt in my mind had it not been for the approach of war, and the strength of the argument that it was necessary to act at once to save the Pacific Coast in the Union, the required legislation would have failed, and without that as a foundation the financing of the enterprise by the sale of bonds would also have failed.
While on a trip from California on this business Judah died in New York November 2, 1863.
The National legislation and the financing to raise the necessary cash was now the vital part of the enterprise. So Mr. Huntington went to New York to attend to that business and maintained his residence there the remainder of his life with frequent visits to California.
So while Huntington was raising money by selling bonds in the east, Stanford was keeping the Republican party squarely in favor of the enterprise. The rushing and hurry-up disposition of Charles Crocker came into play in hastening the actual work on the ground, with the sound judgment of Mark Hopkins to watch the expenditure of all money.
However there was one notable exception, it is possible to be too close to a thing to see it. John Miller, the Secretary and in charge of the office of the Contract and Finance Company, one of the subordinate corporations of the Railroad Company, deceived Mr. Hopkins completely and embezzled more than half a million dollars. Miller explained to Mr. Hopkins the reason why he brought his lunch from home in his pocket and ate it in his office, he not only saved the price of a lunch outside but he saved several minutes of time every day over those who went out to lunch. He also asked Mr. Hopkins to look over his books to see how his method of bookkeeping suited him so Mr. Hopkins was completely thrown off the track of what was going on. Miller could get money from the Central Pacific Treasury on the proper voucher, but did no banking directly for the company.
N. T. Smith, Treasurer of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company and of all the local and street railroads owned by the company was my particular friend in the general office building and he was my banker, that is I had a personal account with him. Smith and Governor Stanford came from the same town in New York State and they had been partners in a store here in early days. So some folks thought I was related to the Stanford family.
CPRR Assistant Engineer A.R. Guppy portrait, courtesy John E. Charles Collection.