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An Invitation and Menu
Central Pacific Railroad, Sacramento, 1869
The completion of the transcontinental railroad in May, 1869, was a great boon to California and especially the western terminus of the road, Sacramento. Already by September of that year the local newspapers were commenting on the rapid growth the completion of the railroad had had on that city. It is not surprising, therefore, that the citizens of Sacramento felt called upon to tender a complimentary banquet to those men who organized and built the Central Pacific Railroad and brought such prosperity to the city.
The Sacramento Union announced the banquet in its issue of September 24, and in the issue of September 28 reports "The banquet tendered the Directors and other officers of the Central Pacific Railroad Company takes place at the Golden Eagle Hotel this evening, at half past eight." The ex post facto account of the banquet in the Union next day says it "was a grand success." The hotel was decorated inside and out with evergreens and "the dining hall tastefully ornamented." Somewhat over two hundred dignitaries and plain citizens sat down to "the tables which were loaded with all the substantials of the market, and dainties in profusion." A glance at the menu will quickly reveal the truth of this statement. Seven French wines, one Spanish sherry and a sauterne of uncertain locale accompanied the courses. Edgar Mills, son [sic] of the prominent western banker Darius Ogden Mills, acted as master of ceremonies. Speeches were made by State Senator Henry Edgerton, Leland Stanford, president of the Central Pacific Railroad and ex-governor of California, and "numerous others." Among the guests were Admiral David Glasgow Farragut of Civil War fame, and several gentlemen from San Francisco and other neighboring cities. Farragut had been on the west coast revisiting the Mare-Island Navy Yard which he had established a few years before the Civil War, and had been wined and dined in San Francisco. The Admiral left by train the day following the banquet for the East and had a severe heart attack in Chicago on the way. It could possibly have been brought on as a result of the lavish entertainment he had experienced in San Francisco and Sacramento.
The original ticket to the dinner was printed on a heavy white paper stock. This copy was issued to C. E. Fisher, whose name shows very faintly on the last line. He was probably the Charles E. Fisher listed in the Sacramento directory of that date as a printer and "state expert." The latter title possibly refers to a position as advisor on state printing. The dates 1863 and 1869 on the top of the card recall the years of the beginning and completion of the western end of the railroad.
The original menu was printed on silk by Russell and Winterburn in Sacramento, and is now quite darkened with age but still in good condition. The Golden Eagle Hotel at 189 K Street in Sacramento, site of the banquet, was first constructed as a wooden frame building in 1851 by D. E. Callahan, who still owned it in 1869. He rebuilt it of brick in 1853 and continued to make additions to it as conditions required. It was still in operation as late as the turn of the century. CAREY S. BLISS
This is Number Eight of twelve Keepsakes issued during 1969 to its members by The Book Club of California in commemoration of the centennial of the transcontinental railroad. The series has been edited by David F. Myrick and designed and printed by Lawton and Alfred Kennedy. The invitation and menu are reproduced through the courtesy of the Huntington Library. Carey S. Bliss is Curator of Rare Books at the Huntington Library.
Courtesy The Book Club of California.