By John J. Stewart
Copyright © DESERET BOOK COMPANY, SALT LAKE
CITY, UTAH, 1969.
Used by permission. Photocopies prohibited by law.
CHAPTER 7, pp. 175-213.
No state nor people figures more prominently in the story of the Pacific Railroad than do Utah and Utahns, particularly the Mormons. Mormon pioneers blazed the trail for much of the route of the railroad. The Mormon empire in the Great Basin provided much of the incentive for construction of the railroad. Mormons were among the first to petition Congress to construct the railroad. Brigham Young was one of the very first to subscribe to Union Pacific stock. Mormons provided much of the labor and capital in construction of the railroad, doing some of the surveying on Union Pacific and the grading on both Central Pacific and Union Pacific through Utah. It was in Utah that the railroad was completed. Ogden, Utah, became the terminal point and the junction for the two railroad companies. Utah was site of one of the first branch lines on the Pacific Railroad. And Utah was to a peculiar degree both benefactor and beneficiary of the railroad, both as to passenger service and freight, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints utilized the railroad greatly with its missionary and immigration programs, and the mining industry could be developed extensively only with the aid of railroad facilities.
The important influence Utah had upon the Pacific Railroad was well stated by Samuel Bowles, editor and publisher of the Springfield, Massachusetts, Republican, who was one of the most respected and influential American journalists of the nineteenth century. He was also one of the foremost promoters of the Pacific Railroad. In 1869, the year of its completion, he published a book, Our New West, in which he observed that "but for the pioneership of the Mormons, discovering the pathway, and feeding those who came out upon it, all this central region of our great West would now be many years behind its present development, and the railroad instead of being finished, would hardly be begun." (Bowles was less discerning when he also ventured the opinion, then held by many, that the railroad would result in the demise of the Mormon Church.)
There are two unfortunate factors in regard to Utah's role in construction of the Pacific Railroad. One is that Brigham Young and other Utahns did not organize a company and build it, or at least a large portion of it. Instead of making the pittance that they did as subcontractors for Union Pacific and Central Pacific, Brigham Young and his associates might just as well have realized the hundreds of millions of dollars in profit from construction and operation of the railroad that Stanford, Huntington, Hopkins, and Crocker made from Central Pacific, or that Durant, the Ames brothers, and others made from Union Pacific. Certainly Brigham Young and other Utahns could and would have made better use of the profits than did the Big Four of CP or the officers of UP. They also could and would have saved the government several millions of dollars in its construction costs. It may be that in view of the anti-Mormon prejudice so prevalent in the United States at this time, it would have been impossible for prominent Utahns to have received the general contract. Yet this is not at all certain. After all, there was an acute labor shortage when the railroads were begun, due to the Civil War and to the gold rush.
Brigham Young at the same time was anxiously seeking work projects for his people, especially something that would give them some cash payment. He jumped at the chance to take subcontracts on the two railroads, to give his people some work and money. It is puzzling that neither he nor other Utahns made any effort to organize a company and build the railroad. Situated as they were, and with the manpower and united strength of the church that Brigham Young controlled, it would have been a natural. In this connection it is interesting to note that years earlier the Mormon leader had declared that if the government did not build the railroad, Utah would, if granted statehood. The second unfortunate factor is that, having done much of the work on the Pacific Railroad on a contract basis, the Mormons actually received considerably less than the pittance payment agreed upon, due to financial chicanery by certain railroad officials.
From the time of its founding in 1830, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had suffered persecution in the eastern and midwestern United States, so much so that in the 1840s its members finally fled from the confines of what was then the United States to the Great Basin area of what at that time was Mexican Territory. Yet despite the abuse they had suffered, they still felt a certain allegiance to the United States, and, in fact, carried an American flag with them and flew it in the Great Salt Lake Valley. Having traveled so far away from their molesters, the Mormons might reasonably have expected a season of peace. But they were fated to suffer one invasion after another: Indian invasions, even cricket invasions, and almost before they had gotten their oxen unhitched from the wagons, an invasion of gold seekers streaming through Salt Lake Valley to California. A few years later came the invasion by Johnston's Army, next the railroad invasion, and finally the most vexing invasion of all, that of the swarms of deputy U.S. marshals sent to deny the Mormons freedom of religion by stamping out the practice of plural marriage.
It was just ten years after their arrival in the valley that the Mormons were set upon by a contingent of the United States Army, known as the Johnston Army because it was commanded by Albert Sidney Johnston. Johnston, President James Buchanan, and many of the men in his administration were southerners or southern sympathizers, and Johnston's expedition to Utah, launched under a spirit of bigotry, tyranny, and religious persecution, has the additional taint of subterfuge, as a traitorous scheme on the part of the Buchanan administration to weaken the Union forces in the pending conflict between the North and the South. Had the nation not been gripped in the double vise of anti-Mormon prejudice and sectional animosity over the slavery issue, that could and likely would have been the railroad instead of a United States army moving out to Utah in 1857.
Secretary of War John B. Floyd, former governor of Virginia, was chiefly responsible for sending the federal army against Utah, as part of his plan to weaken the Union and thus help achieve southern secession. In the words of Robert West Howard, author of The Great Iron Trail, Floyd was "a traitor, liar and thief." By sending several thousand troops and vast quantities of ammunition and supplies off to far-away Utah, Buchanan and Floyd sought not only to weaken the Union forces but also to delay congressional action on bills seeking a Pacific railroad via the Mormon Trail route, which route was fast gaining favor in the North and to which, of course, the southerners and southern sympathizers were opposed. As a subterfuge for their traitorous action, Buchanan and Floyd harangued Congress and the public about the need of punishing the "ungodly, polygamous Mormons." When Lot Smith and other cavalrymen of the Church's Navaho Legion destroyed the army's supply trains in Wyoming and brought the Johnston force to its knees, Buchanan asked Congress for "more troops to reassert federal authority in Utah." In a compromise, the federal army entered Utah peaceably and established headquarters some forty miles southwest of Salt Lake City, Johnston naming the place "Camp Floyd," after the unscrupulous Secretary of War who, like Johnston himself, would soon become a southern general in the Civil War, but who, unlike Johnston, would be tabbed by chroniclers of the war as a "sneaky weakling," easily defeated by Ulysses S. Grant at Fort Donelson, deserting his troops, and fleeing in fear of being captured and hanged as a traitor.
Now in 1868, as the railroad neared Utah, many voices arose in the country to declare that it should be used to put an end to the Mormons. Despite these noisy threats and despite the fact that the Mormons had fled to the Rocky Mountains to escape persecution, Brigham Young and most other Utahns were anxious to have the overland railroad. They realized that although it would be a mixed blessing, its potential worth considerably outweighed its potential ills.
The Mormons had, in fact, helped to prepare the roadbed for the Pacific Railroad: in 1856 Congress had appropriated funds for improvement of the Oxbow, Santa Fe, and California Mormon trails, and Frederick Lander, a civil engineer and builder of some renown, was appointed chief engineer and field superintendent for improvement of the California- Mormon Trail- the very road that Union Pacific later built upon, in large part. In 1858, shortly after the arrival of Johnston's Army in Salt Lake Valley, Lander wrote a report to Washington expressing his appreciation for the help he had received from the Mormons in the road improvement project. His report stated, in part, "I was assured by ex-Governor Young, whom I visited while in Salt Lake City, that ... he would be very glad to have his people employed by me, not only because the work was one of public utility, but because it aided the people in getting a little money for the purchase of groceries and what they termed 'settlement supplies.' The Mormons who worked upon the wagon road were very much pleased with their engagement, and returned to the city comfortably clad from the stock of clothing which had been taken to the mountains by the expedition. The existence of this Mormon population, and the supplies they are enabled to furnish, is a most important matter in making estimates for any public work to be carried on in that section of the country. They are very excellent laborers, many of them Cornish miners who understand all sorts of ledge work, masonry, etc. They will prove of remarkable service should the proposed line of the Pacific railroad pass anywhere in the vicinity of their settlements. I paid them a dollar a day for work, but the next season I shall probably have to pay them at higher rates. Ex-Governor Young told me that he would engage to find laborers and mechanics to build that portion of a Pacific railroad which should extend across the Territory of Utah."
But even a decade earlier than this the Mormons were accomplishing advance work for the railroad. In a mass meeting held in Salt Lake City in June, 1868, to give consideration to the coming railroad, George A. Smith, a cousin of Joseph Smith and soon to become a counselor to Brigham Young in the presidency of the LDS Church, reminded his audience that it really was the Mormons who had pioneered the route for the Pacific Railroad. "We started from Nauvoo in February, 1846, to make a road to the Rocky Mountains," he recalled. "A portion of our work was to hunt a track for the railroad. We located a wagon road to Council Bluffs, bridging the streams, and I believe it has been pretty nearly followed by the railroad. In April, 1847, President Young and 143 pioneers left Council Bluffs and located and made the road to the site of this city. A portion of our labor was to seek out the way for a railroad across the continent, and every place we found that seemed difficult for laying the rails we searched a way for the road to go around or through it."
Apostle George Q. Cannon, editor of the Deseret News (and later a member of the Church presidency), in reporting Smith's talk, commented editorially that "the route then selected was an excellent one, and it is confidently believed that from the Mississippi River to the South Pass a good line of easy gradients can be built without being under the necessity of boring a single tunnel. President Young is clearly the pioneer of the route. He demonstrated its feasibility, laid the foundation of flourishing settlements, and some of the people whom he led from Nauvoo helped to redeem California from Mexican rule, found the gold in that country, and printed the first newspaper on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains." Cannon also reminded his readers that clear back in the winter of 1849-50, this same George A. Smith as Utah's delegate to Congress had introduced a bill "for the construction of a railroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific."
Again in 1852, five years before the invasion of Utah by Johnston's Army and seventeen years before completion of the railroad, Utah's first territorial legislature, with Brigham Young as governor, sent a memorial to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, which stated, in part: ". . . not less than five thousand American citizens have perished on the different routes within the last three years, for the want of proper means of transportation.... We know that no obstruction exists between this point and San Diego, and that iron, coal, timber, stone and other materials exist in various places along the route; and that the settlements of this territory are so situated as amply to supply the builders of said road with material and provisions for a considerable portion of the route, and to carry on an extensive trade after the road is completed.
"Your memorialists are of the opinion that the mineral resources of California and these mountains can never be fully developed to the benefit of the United States without the construction of such a road, and upon its completion the entire trade of China and the East Indies will pass through the heart of the Union, thereby giving to our citizens the almost entire control of the Asiatic and Pacific trade; pouring into the lap of the American states the millions that are now diverted through other commercial channels; and last, though not least, the road herein proposed would be a perpetual chain or iron band, which would effectually hold together our glorious Union with an imperishable identity of mutual interest, thereby consolidating our relations with foreign powers in times of peace and insuring our defense from foreign invasion, by the speedy transmission of troops and supplies in times of war."
It was in the following year, 1853, that Congress passed and President Millard Fillmore approved a bill providing for surveys of four possible railroad routes to the Pacific, including one approximately along the Mormon Trail to Utah. (Secretary of War Jefferson Davis took liberties with the act and had five routes surveyed instead of four.) But due to the bitter sectional rivalry between North and South, it was impossible to get congressional sanction for construction of a road on any route. Thus Utah with the rest of the West had to continue on without railroad service. While California and Oregon travelers had the option of overland travel or travel by boat, the thousands of Utah immigrants had no such choice. Theirs must be travel by covered wagon or handcart. And many continued to perish on the western plains. Completion of the railroad in 1869 thus is regarded as the end of Utah's pioneer era-as per the requirements for being a member of the Sons of Utah Pioneers or of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers.
Brigham Young's anxiety to have a railroad built, as an aid to emigration to Utah and for other reasons as well, was frequently voiced from the Salt Lake Tabernacle and in his private and public correspondence. Typical of his comments on the matter is this: "Speaking of the completion of this railroad, I am anxious to see it, and I say to the Congress of the United States, through our Delegate, to the Company, and to others, hurry up, hasten the work! We want to hear the iron horse puffing through this valley. What for? To bring our brethren and sisters here." He might have added, "To help us transport our missionaries forth and back. To provide us some cash employment. To help keep our men busy. To help provide a cash market for our produce." On the latter point, he advised through a notice in the Deseret News that it was wise for Utahns "to begin this season to build storehouses, in which to preserve all the surplus grain; that we may be able to supply the demand which will be made upon us for provisions to support the laborers on the Pacific Railroad." And as to employment for his men, certainly working on the railroad, while it may not have been as desirable as farming, was better than make-work projects to which he sometimes had to resort to keep immigrants occupied.
In his book Great Basin Kingdom, Leonard Arrington suggests that the coming of the railroad was a major impetus to the Church's reviving its School of the Prophets, which had been organized by Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, in 1833, and its Women's Relief Society (earlier known as the Female Relief Society and later as the Ladies' Relief Society), which had been organized by the Prophet at Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1842. While the original School of the Prophets in Kirtland was a priesthood gospel study group, it was now to be an economic organization that would aid the General Authorities of the Church in maintaining and intensifying Mormon solidarity in secular as well as ecclesiastical affairs. And the Relief Society was to be an appendage to the priesthood to work toward the same objectives, encouraging greater home industry and habits of thrift that would keep Mormons from being dependent upon outside manufacture.
Under Brigham Young's direction, the School of the Prophets, suggests Arrington, had seven major tasks to perform, to help Utahns adjust properly to the coming of the railroad: (1) Minimize the dangers from the influx of railroad workers and hangers-on. Recruiting Mormon workers to fulfill the railroad contracts was an important aspect of this. (2) Organize agricultural and manufacturing cooperatives throughout the Territory, to make Utahns self-sufficient and independent of outside manufacture. (3) Reduce wages, so that prices of locally produced commodities could be reduced to a figure competitive with those produced in the East. (4) Construct branch railroads from the Pacific road to various communities throughout the Territory. (5) Establish the Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI) to handle the purchase and wholesale distribution of items that must be imported. This and point number 2 included a boycott of local nonMormon merchants, and anyone dealing with them "should be cut off from the Church." (6) Help Utahns establish title to their lands and prevent Union Pacific and Central Pacific from obtaining such lands. As a means of exerting political pressure against the Church, Congress had refused to confirm Utah land titles and had not allowed Utahns to participate in the benefits of the national Homestead Act by which settlers could acquire land ownership through living on it. Under the Pacific Railroad Act, of course, the railroad companies had right to alternate sections of land on both sides of the road, except where property rights were already held by other citizens. The School of the Prophets assisted settlers in filing land title applications with the General Land Office and otherwise advising them on ways to protect their holdings. (7) Raise cash for the Perpetual Emigration Fund. The Church had long had this PEF program to financially assist converts in immigrating to Utah. Now with railroad fares to be paid, more cash was needed to operate it. This additional money was to be raised chiefly by a stricter observance of the Church's Word of Wisdom, which prescribed abstinence from liquor, tobacco, tea, and coffee. These items were purchased from the East and thus resulted in a cash drain from the Territory. By strict observance of the Word of Wisdom, a considerable sum of money could be saved and contributed to the Perpetual Emigration Fund.
In answer to the threats of anti-Mormons and to the fears voiced by some Mormons about the railroad's coming, Brigham Young confidently declared that Mormonism "must indeed be a damned poor religion if it cannot stand one railroad!" How eagerly Utahns looked forward to the railroad might be best realized by considering the fact that people isolated from the rest of the world by several hundred miles of slow, laborious, and dangerous travel would naturally have a great desire for a mode of transportation that would change this to a safe and easy one- or two-day journey.
Easily the most disappointing aspect of the railroad construction, to Brigham Young and his associates, was the decision to route it around the north end of Great Salt Lake instead of around the south end, which would have taken it through Salt Lake City. President Young had his heart set on having the railroad pass through the Utah and Mormon capitol. Originally it was planned to go that route. When engineers recommended the change to the north end of the lake, and their recommendation was adopted, the pioneer leader felt chagrined. Knowing that he would be keenly disappointed, the railroad officials withheld this information from him as long as possible, which did not help matters one bit. At least the rerouted railroad would pass through his namesake city, Brigham City, twenty miles north of Ogden. But that was little consolation to him. It seems likely that Brigham Young's failure to attend the Golden Spike ceremony at Promontory reflected his disappointment in the road's not going through Salt Lake City. It may also be supposed that, off the record, residents of Brigham City and other communities in Box Elder and Cache counties did not fully share their leader's grief in the route change.
In the 1860s the officials of Union Pacific and Central Pacific were almost the only non- Mormon citizens of the United States who had warm, friendly feelings toward the Mormons. So successful had anti-Mormons been in their hate-crazed propaganda campaign that almost no one understood or appreciated the Utah pioneers. For instance, Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose melodramatic, tear-jerking book Uncle Tom's Cabin had set the torch to the Civil War, was hysterically prancing around the country, foolishly comparing Mormon polygamy with slavery, writing, lecturing, bitterly denouncing the two as "the twin relics of barbarism." Her florid prose (it really should not be called literature) and that of other writers of her ilk were inciting the nation to murderous hatred toward the Mormons, not unlike that of the Nazis toward the Jews. Political enemies of the Church long used polygamy as a kicking boy to arouse hatred against the Mormons and thus defeat them. Frederick T. Dubois, Idaho's powerful senator, smugly explained it this way: "Those of us who understood the situation were not nearly as much opposed to polygamy as we were to the political domination of the Church. We realized, however, that we could not make those who did not come actually in contact with it understand what this political domination meant. We made use of polygamy in consequence as our great weapon of offense and to gain recruits to our standard. There was a universal detestation of polygamy, and inasmuch as the Mormons openly defended it we were given a very effective weapon with which to attack." In today's more enlightened and benevolent society it is difficult to realize with what horrible prejudice the Mormons had to contend. But not from the railroad officials. They loved the Mormons, just because they were there. Their presence meant help in building the road and customers to use it when it was built.
As the race between Central Pacific and Union Pacific picked up tempo, key officials of the two companies began to woo Brigham Young as fervently as if he were Cleopatra in the desert. At times from June of 1868 to March of 1869 he could hardly sit down to breakfast but what either Leland Stanford of Central Pacific or someone from Union Pacific was there. Sometimes he would manage to slip away and leave them to glare at each other. Brigham Young was twenty years older than Leland Stanford, but there was a remarkable physical resemblance in the two men, and they each took pleasure in being on a first-name basis in their acquaintance.
Both Union Pacific and Central Pacific were anxious for Mormon help in building their railroad, each hoping to thus gain an advantage over the competing company. They not only wanted manpower to speed construction, but UP officials at least were also seeking a way to fatten their profits at the expense of the Mormon Church. It occurred to the grasping Dr. Durant that the more he could persuade the Mormons to invest in the effort, the more he could drain off in personal profit through Credit Mobilier. He was not asking the Mormons for a cash investment- certainly the Mormons had no cash to invest. But he was asking them to furnish manpower, horse teams, etc., partly on a delayed payment basis, and he figuring to bail out of Union Pacific without ever paying the labor bill in full-which is approximately what happened, the only variation being that just before he bailed out he was kicked out. One of the most shameful facts in the construction of the railroad was that the Mormons had to go to New York and Boston begging for back wages due and settle for partial payment-and that in materials rather than cash, because the Union Pacific officers pleaded poverty while pocketing millions of dollars in profit through Credit Mobilier.
While each company would like to have persuaded Brigham Young to help it exclusively, the Mormon leader felt it advantageous to work with both, to get the railroad completed faster and get additional work for his people. The Mormons, he insisted, would work for both roads. And they did. This, of course, was not entirely pleasing to either company, for it tended to nullify their objective to a great extent, that of gaining an advantage over the competing company. But of course neither company could afford to withdraw its request for Mormon assistance, lest it thus give the advantage to the competition.
Contracting with both Union Pacific and Central Pacific did result in one ludicrous aspect of the Mormon contribution to construction of the railroad: foolishly the federal government had neither stipulated where the two railroads would meet nor that they had to meet. It had just been supposed that when they came upon one another they would join their roads, and that is where the juncture would be. But such a supposition failed to reckon with the enticing power of money, the subsidy of cash and land grants the government was giving for each mile of railroad completed. Instead of joining their roads, as men of honor might, and as the government contract intended but failed to specify, the two companies deliberately refused to meet, but instead stubbornly built parallel roads, for several hundred miles, from eastern Nevada to western Wyoming!
A contract was signed on May 21, 1868, between Brigham Young and Samuel B. Reed, superintendent of construction for Union Pacific, for the Mormons to do one million dollars' worth of grading, tunneling, and bridge work for UP from the Utah-Wyoming border west to the shores of the Great Salt Lake-presumably to the juncture with Central Pacific, wherever that might prove to be. The contract specified that eighty percent of the contract price was to be paid monthly as the work progressed and the other twenty percent would be paid when the project was completed. Brigham Young in turn assigned the work to subcontractors, who included Bishop John Sharp of Salt Lake City, acting superintendent of public works for the Utah Territory (President Daniel H. Wells was superintendent), and Brigham's three oldest sons, Joseph, Brigham, Jr., and John W. Young; also Joseph F. Nounan, a non-Mormon businessman in Salt Lake City. These subcontractors in turn contracted with various individuals and families to build a mile or so of grade, do bridge or tunnel work, etc. Some of these workers lived in settlements along the route, up in Echo and Weber canyons; others came from Salt Lake City or other communities, often taking with them a team of horses to pull the scrapers used to throw up the grading.
Editor Cannon in the Deseret News heralded the railroad contract as a "great cause for thankfulness," because of what it could do for the labor situation and the general economy of Utah. "Now no man need go East, or in any other direction in search of employment," he wrote. "There is enough for all at our very doors and in the completion of a project in which we are all interested. Coming as it does when there is such a scarcity of money and a consequent slackness of labor, it is most advantageous." With the cash that the Union Pacific would be paying them, the Mormons "who owe may pay their debts, and have the necessary funds to send for machinery and establish mercantile houses in the various settlements." Just as the rush of gold miners on their way through to California a decade earlier had brought to Utahns an opportunity of getting some furniture and other commodities in exchange for food, so now the railroad was to give them the cash to further improve their material situation. Or so they thought, never suspecting how dishonestly they would be dealt with by the railroad officials.
Utahns working on the railroad could earn two dollars a day-big money for a working man in those days eighty percent of it in cash; that was the promise, never realized. Converts-physically fit men-immigrating to Zion from England and other areas could ride from Omaha to the end of the line free of charge if they agreed to work for the railroad when they got here. Their children under fourteen years of age could ride at half price. In writing to Apostle Franklin D. Richards, Church agent in charge of emigration at Liverpool, England, President Young observed that "for many reasons that will readily occur to you, this contract is viewed by the brethren of understanding as a God-send. There is much indebtedness among the people, and the territory is drained of money, but labor here and coming we have in large amount, and this contract affords opportunity for turning that labor into money, with which those here can pay each other, and import needed machinery, and such useful articles as we cannot yet produce, and those coming can pay their indebtedness, and have ready means with which to gather around them the comforts of life in their new homes." Great expectations!
In view of the liberal land grants Union Pacific was receiving from the government for construction of the road, the contract with Brigham Young should have been more liberal in payment. It was considerably less per unit of work than that awarded to other UP contractors. Yet, even so it would have been satisfactory to the Mormons if UP officials had kept faith on the contract, which they did not. While some three thousand Mormons went diligently to work to complete the grading, tunneling, and bridge building, rejoicing in anticipation of the cash they were earning, UP officials were scheming to avoid as much of the payment due them as possible. It was not until October, 1868, five months after Brigham Young and Sam Reed had signed the contract and more than four months after Mormon railroad gangs were at work, that UP's board of directors approved the contract—five months of deliberate stalling to avoid making payments. This, of course, wreaked havoc with the Mormon subcontractors, with the workers, and with the economy generally. Provisions had been purchased on credit, in anticipation of the monthly payments from UP. With so many of the farmers off working on the railroad, foodstuffs soon became in short supply, and inflation followed.
Even before the contract had been signed, many food prices were fantastically high in Utah. In a sermon in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, President Daniel H. Wells, urging greater farm production and manufacturing in Utah, declared that "butter, that at the present time is selling for a dollar and a quarter a pound, in a country like this should not bring more than twenty-five cents. Cheese the same. These two articles are imported twelve to fifteen hundred miles, and then the Territory is not near supplied." President Wells also lamented that "wheat is selling today at four dollars the bushel, when it should not be more than half that price. It is so with every other article of our own consumption." Even though several of the Mormons' agricultural efforts, such as with cotton, wine grapes, and sericulture, had failed, it was Wells' belief, and that of other Church leaders, that with a more determined effort Utahns could greatly increase agricultural production and manufacturing, much to their economic advantage. It was hoped that the railroad contract would help encourage and enable such an increase, by helping the people to get out of debt, to send for needed tools and machinery, to import better breeding stock for their cattle herds and poultry flocks, to provide a cash market for their increased production, etc. But if the railroad failed to pay the Utahns for their work, then obviously no such beneficial results could follow.
The Echo and Weber canyons were the most difficult terrain through which UP had to build. Several tunnels were required in these narrow canyons, and floods washed out both grading and bridges. Mormon workers became experts in the use of nitroglycerin "blasting oil" and other explosives used to help tunnel through rock formations and carve out roadbeds from steep, rocky hillsides. With few exceptions the Mormons proved efficient, hard workers. Their deportment, like that of the Chinese on Central Pacific, was orderly.
Edward Lennox Sloan, Deseret News assistant editor, whose stories have been cited by historian Robert West Howard as "the best panorama extant of the Great Iron Trail's gargantuan routine," several times visited the Echo and Weber canyon work sites and reported that "after the day's work was done, the animals turned out to herd and the supper over, a nice blending of voices in sweet singing proved that the materials exist among the men for a capital choir, and there is some talk of organizing one. Soon after, the call for prayers was heard, when the men assembled and reverentially bowed before the Author of all blessings." Sloan noted that "in but one camp of less than one hundred men, out of between two and three thousand working in the two canyons, did I hear profanity; and it is not likely to be tolerated there long." Such Christian behavior was surely something novel in the history of railroad construction crews at that date. Sloan found it to be in complete contrast to that of the non-Mormon UP crews, whose evenings were devoted to patronizing the hell-on-wheels that, leechlike, accompanied UP west.
When work on the tunnels in the canyons did not seem to be going fast enough to please the anxious UP officials, they brought down from Wyoming some of their non-Mormon crews to take over this phase of it. A month later, however, they were ready to turn it back to the Mormons. "The big tunnel which the company's men took off from our hands to complete in a hurry, has been proffered back again," wrote Brigham Young to Albert Carrington, then in England. "They have not less than four men to our one constantly employed, and, withal, have not been doing over two-thirds as much work. Superintendent Reed has solicited us to resume it again. We were well pleased to have the job off from our hands when it was, as it enabled us to complete our other work on the line; but now that it is so nearly complete, probably we shall finish the tunnel. Bishop Sharp and Joseph A. Young are using nitro- glycerine for blasting, and its superiority over powder, as well as the sobriety, steadiness and industry of our men, gives us a marked advantage."
A desire to keep the hell-on-wheels element out of Zion was, of course, an additional motive for Utahns to take construction contracts with the railroads. But while it reduced the number of such undesirables coming into Utah's valleys, it did not eliminate the problem entirely. Editor Cannon of the Deseret News suggested, "It is a capital idea for our citizens to have loaded firearms in their dwellings in all localities where there is the least reason to suspect or anticipate the visits of such characters." With so many Mormon men away from home working on the railroads-an estimated five thousand on the two roads-Cannon also suggested that a "shrill whistle, something like those used by policemen in the East," be kept "in every house in localities infested by this lawless element, so that in case of alarm the blowing of the whistle ... would speedily call assistance."
To Sloan, the approach of the UP camps seemed like an invasion of Zion by the drunken hordes of Babylon. On a visit to Echo City the week before Christmas in 1868, he found that the once peaceful little community had suddenly been overrun by this human cesspool. Where a month earlier there had been fewer than half a dozen buildings, there were now, in addition to UP buildings, some fifty others, including "saloons, doggeries, whiskeyholes, dram-barrels, gambling-hells," also "private dwellings," with "nymphs du grade, " whence "feminity stalks out with brazen publicity." Sloan direfully warned his readers, "They are coming, coming, coming!"
And come they did. As fast as the Mormon crews could prepare the grading, the non- Mormon crews were moving along behind them with the ties and rails. Rather than wait for all the tunnels to be completed, in at least one instance they built a wooden trestle out over Weber River, curving their railroad around the mountain abutment in a giddy fashion, so as to move on down the canyon without delay.
When the Union Pacific tracks reached Ogden, on March 8, 1869, the city staged a noisy celebration. "Hail to the Highway of Nations!" shouted a banner. "Utah Bids You Welcome!" Grenville Dodge, Jack and Dan Casement, Sam Reed, and other UP personnel were paraded through town like conquering heroes, with a brass band playing and crowds of spectators cheering. "The citizens exhibited the liveliest joy, as, from the high bluffs and every commanding elevation they feasted their eyes and ears with the sight and sound of the long expected and anxiously looked for fury steed," reported Joseph Hall in the Salt Lake Telegraph. "Onward they came, and thousands of our citizens, both from here and from the adjoining settlements, decked in their holiday attire, gave a hearty welcome to the advent of the nation's great highway into this city." It was a moment of triumph for Union Pacific, for Ogden was the destination that both companies had been aiming at, it being the only city of any size on the whole route from either starting point-Omaha, Nebraska, on the east and Sacramento on the west.
But there was no stopping in Ogden. North past Brigham City the railroad ran, thence west across the Bear River, on the shores of which sprang up another railroad town. Sloan reported to Deseret News readers that "five miles west of Brigham City is situated the new town of Corinne, built of canvas and board shanties. The place is fast becoming civilized, several men having been killed there already. The last one was found in the river with four bullet holes through him and his head badly mangled." Sloan also noted that "from Corinne west thirty miles, the grading camps present the appearance of a mighty army. As far as the eye can reach are to be seen almost a continuous line of tents, wagons and men."
Meanwhile, the Mormons had entered into a contract with President Stanford of Central Pacific as well, early in September, 1868, to grade his road from the Utah-Nevada line east into Weber Canyon. Stanford guaranteed three to six dollars per day for manual and skilled labor and ten dollars per day for wagonmen, and he even made a cash down payment in advance, demanded by President Young in view of his unhappy experience with Union Pacific, which had failed to meet its monthly payments to the Mormons and which had also decided to build its road north of the Great Salt Lake instead of through Salt Lake City. In one of his colorful, spirited sermons in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, the Mormon leader severely chastised the UP officials for their actions.
Dodge, who as chief engineer of UP was responsible for the decision to go north of the lake instead of through Salt Lake City, states that "we had only one controversy with the Mormons, who had been our friends and had given the full support of the Church from the time of our first reconnaissances until the final completion. It was our desire and the demand of the Mormons that we should build through Salt Lake City, but we bent all our energies to find a feasible line passing through that city and around the south end of the Great Salt Lake and across the desert to Humboldt Wells, a controlling point in the line. We found the line so superior on the north of the lake that we had to adopt that route with a view of building a branch to Salt Lake City, but Brigham Young would not have this, and appealed over my head to the board of directors, who referred the question to the government directors, who finally sustained me. Then Brigham Young gave his allegiance and aid to the Central Pacific, hoping to bring them around the south end of the lake and force us to connect with them there. He even went so far as to deliver in the tabernacle a great sermon denouncing me, and stating a road could not be built or run without the aid of the Mormons."
Brigham's sermon warmed the heart of Leland Stanford, who was soliciting his aid in construction of Central Pacific. Although CP also had decided to build north of the lake instead of through Salt Lake City, Stanford carefully avoided telling Brigham Young this, but let him believe that CP preferred the southern route. He wrote to his partners that he thought it was not expedient to tell Brigham of CP's true intentions. Finally Dodge told the Mormon leader. When confronted with the matter, Stanford lamely explained that CP was being forced to go north of the lake due to UP's decision. Dodge also assured Young that UP was willing to build a first-class branch line from Ogden to Salt Lake City.
When news of the Mormon contract with Central Pacific reached New York City, the Union Pacific board of directors suddenly found it expedient to approve the contract Sam Reed had made in UP's behalf with Brigham Young the previous May. The fearful thought seems to have occurred to the UP directors that the Mormons might turn over to Central Pacific the road it had graded for Union Pacific, inasmuch as the latter had not met its financial obligation. Not only did the UP directors now ratify the contract in jig time, but Tom Durant, UP's vice-president, hastily sewed his money bags to his underwear and caught the next train west. Picking up a reluctant Grenville Dodge along the way, Durant hastened on to Salt Lake City and dashed breathlessly up to the Lion House to greet Brigham Young. So sorry to be late with the money! Hope you have not been inconvenienced by the delay. Due to bungling bureaucrats in Washington, you know. No, he did not have the full amount due. UP was in desperate financial straits, you know. Just a token payment, in fact, but more would surely be coming. Now, about that contract with Central Pacific. Surely the Mormon leader was not going to let his men work for that unreliable, conniving outfit, that unspeakable company that had stooped so low as to hire Chinese coolies! He was? Durant went stomping out the door and off to his room at the Newhouse Hotel, where that cur Leland Stanford was also staying. If Stanford was going to compete for the Mormons, then Durant would retaliate by competing for the Chinese. He hustled a wire off to Dr. Daniel W. Strong at Dutch Flat, California: please contract for two thousand Chinese laborers and have them delivered to UP's agent at CP's railhead in Nevada! Strong had been closely associated with Ted Judah in founding Central Pacific, and Durant knew that he had a dislike for CP's Big Four, whom he felt had badly wronged Judah. But whether Strong never received Durant's urgent telegram, and others that followed, or whether, as is more likely, he did not care to deal with Durant, he did not bother to answer him. After impatiently awaiting a reply, Durant trudged back up Main Street and negotiated another contract with Brigham Young to continue work on the Union Pacific road.
From the time of the Mormon contract with Central Pacific in September, 1868, to the following April 11, when an agreement was reached on Promontory as the junction, there occurred an even more hectic, competitive race between the two companies, UP and CP, with the Mormons most deeply involved. Ezra Taft Benson, an apostle of the Mormon Church living in Cache Valley; Lorin Farr, mayor of Ogden; and Chauncey West, the presiding bishop of the Ogden area, were the three chief contractors for grading the Central Pacific road through Utah. The contract was taken in their name rather than Brigham Young's but was under his direction. They recruited several hundred men and boys from throughout northern Utah and southern Idaho and promptly set to work.
So the situation was this: in the final mad months of racing between Union Pacific building west and Central Pacific building east, Brigham Young and his associates held construction contracts with both companies. Under terms of those contracts, Mormons were grading two roads, closely paralleling each other, a distance of some two hundred miles across northern Utah, from Nevada to Wyoming, with non-Mormon crews to do the follow-up work of laying the ties and rails on each line. Neither company would agree to a meeting place, and each was anxious to gain as much mileage as possible. It was a ludicrous situation, to say the least. And made more so by the companies' decision to interfere with one another as much as possible by crossing over each other's line, rather than just running parallel to it, and also by each grading a stretch at the far extremity of the contested area-UP out on the Nevada border and CP up near the Wyoming border.
Leland Stanford, in writing to his partner Mark Hopkins, complained of the Union Pacific surveyors' deliberately crisscrossing over Central Pacific's surveyed line, to try to confuse and interfere with CP's work, even staking out several different lines. "The U.P. have changed their line so as to cross us five times with unequal grades between Bear River and Promontory," he angrily reported. "They have done this purposely, as there was no necessity for so doing."
One of the favorite anecdotes about the building of the Pacific Railroad is that found in a biography of General Dodge, in which he is quoted as telling of the ill feeling and warfare between UP's Irish workmen and CP's Chinese workmen during this final period of construction when the two companies were building their parallel roads through northern Utah: "Our Irishmen," related Dodge, "were in the habit of firing their blasts in the cuts without giving warning to the Chinamen on the Central Pacific working right above them. From this cause, several Chinamen were severely hurt. Complaint was made to me by the Central Pacific people, and I endeavored to have the contractors bring hostilities to a close but, for some reason or other, they failed to do so. One day the Chinamen, appreciating the situation, put in what is called a 'grave' on their work, and when the Irishmen right under them were all at work let go their blast and buried several of our men. This brought about a truce at once. From that time on the Irish laborers showed due respect for the Chinamen, and there was no further trouble."
Other stories have it that the Irish and Chinese went so far as to sneak into one another's camps by night and set off charges of blasting powder, blowing whole camps to kingdom come. Another story tells of the Irish uncoupling a work car on which a group of Chinese workmen were ascending a grade on the steep Promontory hillside, causing the car to coast down the track at terrifying speed until it came to the first bend in the road, at which it left the tracks and sailed off down over the hillside, its occupants frantically jibbering in their native tongue (obviously), while the Irish greatly enjoyed the performance.
So far as can be determined, the Dodge story and the others as well are fictitious. It is true that there was some ill feeling between UP's Irish and CP's Chinese. Apparently it is not true that they vented such feelings in physical violence as thus described. Nor is the connotation correct that all of UP's workmen were Irish, nor even dominantly so, nor that all of CP's were Chinese, though a majority were. Union Pacific hired men of all nationalities, many of them being Civil War veterans of both the North and the South. Some were Irish immigrants; others were immigrants from various European countries. And besides Chinese there were in Central Pacific's forces Irish, English, German, and many other nationalities. When the CP established its record of ten miles of track laid in one day, Crocker specified that a team of Irish track layers was to do the job.
The germ of fact from which these fictitious stories sprang was the competitive situation in which the Mormon work crews found themselves, some working for Union Pacific and others for Central Pacific, especially in the stretch of road from Corinne west to Kelton. Grading crews for the two competing roads were often working, and camping, within a few rods of each other. There was no real hostility between them, any more than there is between opposing football or basketball teams today. So far as the Mormons were concerned, it was a matter of friendly competition. That they indulged in a bit of good-natured "horse play" was only to be expected. Hiding one another's equipment, turning the other's horses loose at night, stealing into another's camp after dark and dropping a rattlesnake into the soup kettle, and even hauling each other's stockpile of dirt or rock for a fill-such things occasionally did happen, in a spirit of jest, not animosity. And there was an incident or two of carelessness, thoughtlessness, or maybe even an extreme of joking, that became potentially dangerous. Edward Sloan, writing in the Deseret News, reported one such episode:
"The two companies' blasters worked very near each other, and when Sharp & Young's [UP] men first began work [in the Promontory region] the CP would give them no warning when they fired their fuse. Jim Livingston, Sharp's able foreman, said nothing but went to work and loaded a point of rock with nitro-glycerine, and without saying anything to the CP, 'let her rip.' The explosion was terrific ... and the foreman of the CP came down to confer with Mr. Livingston about the necessity of each party notifying the other when ready for a blast."
How dangerous the blasting operations could be and how great the need was for advising each other when blasts were to be set off can be seen from a Deseret News dispatch of March 5, 1869, just two months before the railroad was joined at Promontory: "The heaviest work on the Promontory is within a few miles of headquarters. Sharp & Young's blasters are jarring the earth every few minutes with their glycerine and powder, lifting whole ledges of limestone rock from their long resting places, hurling them hundreds of feet in the air and scattering them around for a half mile in every direction.
"At Carlisle's works a few days ago four men were preparing a blast by filling a large crevice in a ledge with powder. After pouring in the powder they undertook to work it down with iron bars. The bars striking the rock caused an explosion; one of the men was blown two or three hundred feet in the air, breaking every bone in his body, the other three were terribly burnt and wounded by flying stones."
Had it not been the Mormons doing the grading on the two competing roads through this area in which they were in close proximity, then certainly there might have been in fact the violence that has been described in fiction, for the two companies were in a highly competitive situation, each knowing that only one, not both, was going to get the government subsidies in this disputed area, and many of the workmen employed were certainly capable of murder and any other form of violence. In fact, there had probably not been a single week during the course of construction that there had not been murders and other violence along the UP route, accompanied as it was by the hell-on-wheels. But in Utah, with the Mormons doing the grading, there was comparatively little contact between the non-Mormon crews of the two companies, for an agreement was reached on the point of junction before the track laying proceeded far enough for them to reach each other's tracks. There was, of course, some contact as the two roads came together at Promontory. But surprisingly, the most violent fights in the Promontory region were those between individuals within their own camps, including one real sparkler among the Chinese, with various factions entering into the knife-wielding free-for-all. Nor was there much contact between Mormon and non-Mormon crews on either railroad, and what little there was seems to have been free of any serious violence.
Few of the Mormon workers on either UP or CP bothered to attend the Golden Spike ceremony at Promontory. Their work of grading was completed several days before the ceremony, and there was the spring farm work awaiting their return home, to say nothing of their families. It was no time to be standing around at Promontory awaiting a ceremony and celebration of uncertain quality.
Despite repeated warnings given through the Deseret News and in Church and community meetings throughout the Territory, there were some cases of difficulties with the influx of outside railroad workers and hangers-or.. Unfortunately there were in the Ogden area several incidences of rape and cases of thievery. But perhaps the wonder is that there was not more difficulty. Perhaps the hell-on-wheelers had heard Brigham Young's threat that he would "salt down in the lake" any such characters that caused trouble. Three weeks following completion of the railroad, the Deseret News editor reported with a sigh of relief: "The Pacific Railroad brought with it a scum of ruffianism which surged on from one mushroom town to another along the line, marking its passage by murder, and sowing the seeds of vice and villainy wherever it rested. Bands of these vile wretches sometimes entered the quiet city on the banks of the Jordan [Salt Lake City], and sought to erect there the gambling hells and whiskey shops without which they could scarcely exist. The Mormon police were unaccustomed to dealing with such characters, but they succeeded to a miracle in keeping the peace. There were no riots, there was no shooting. But the ruffians somehow found out that the quiet men who came and talked to them so calmly were not to be trifled with, and they speedily betook themselves to 'fresh fields and pastures new'."
Shortly after completion of the railroad a company of Mormon converts from England arrived in Salt Lake Valley by train, marking the beginning of a new era for the Church and prompting Editor Cannon to comment in the News on the Pacific Railroad's twofold significance to Utah, secular and ecclesiastical:
"The recent arrival of the company of emigrants in this Territory from Great Britain is the commencement of a new era in the gathering of the Saints to Zion. We can scarcely realize the fact that in about twenty-three days from the time they stepped on the vessel in the port of Liverpool they were safely landed in Ogden, and the traveling time was even three days less than this....
"Many have had the idea that we dreaded the completion of the continental railroad; but why should we fear it? The advantages which it confers very greatly outweigh any disadvantages which it may occasion. The disadvantages we can control, and, if prudent, eventually remove, as they are likely mainly to consist in draining the country of money to pay for the cost and freight of articles imported from abroad. The production and manufacture at home of a wider range of articles for our own use and for exportation will correct this. But its advantages are very great. By its aid our missionary operations at home and abroad will be greatly promoted. Our Elders can travel with expedition and ease to the most distant parts, perform their missions, return with equal facility, bringing with them fruits of their labors."
With completion of the road, nearly all the outside workers and hangers-on quickly moved out of the Territory, a fact that most Utahns considered a real blessing. But with the terminal of both roads to be in Utah, there obviously would be some railroad operation and maintenance crews remaining in Utah. It may be supposed that Utahns would wish to have these off at some distance from Mormon communities to avoid association with them-in view of Utahns' reluctance to have the railroad crews enter the Territory in the first place. But this was not so. In fact, just the opposite was true. Brigham Young and his associates were anxious to have the terminal established at Ogden. Most Utah "Gentiles" - non- Mormons-strongly favored having it at Corinne, a city to which the railroad had given birth and which had twenty-eight saloons and a similar number of bawdy houses. There were valid arguments for each site. The reasons President Young favored Ogden were these: It was the closest point of the railroad to Salt Lake City. It was a well-established Mormon community, and having the terminal there may afford some Mormon influence being exerted upon it and give further employment opportunity to local residents. It would prevent Corinne, the "Gentile City," from achieving prominence and challenging the supremacy of Salt Lake City. (Already anti- Mormon agitators in Utah were making a strenuous effort to have Corinne replace Salt Lake City as the territorial capital.) Those favoring Corinne as the railroad terminal had these arguments: It was twenty-five miles closer to Promontory, where the two railroads actually met; Promontory had become a temporary terminal. It was also twenty-five miles closer to the Idaho and Montana mining areas and therefore more logical as a freighting center. Corinne, in fact, immediately became a center for freighting materials by team and wagon from the railroad north to these mining areas. Strong pressure was placed on the railroads to select Corinne as the terminus. Speculators who had invested heavily in land and other real estate there were especially determined that Corinne should be chosen. To help persuade the two railroad companies that they should have their terminal in Ogden rather than in Corinne, Brigham Young early in 1869 arranged for the Church to obtain, through purchase and contribution, 133 acres of choice land adjacent to Ogden and offered it as a gift to the railroads if they would locate their terminal depots and maintenance shops there. Having already received several million acres of land in government subsidy, the railroads were hardly lacking in land. But they appreciated the gesture. Besides, the agreement of the two companies on where they should meet included the stipulation that CP could buy from UP forty- seven and a half miles of track from Promontory to within five miles of Ogden, for four million dollars. In ratifying this agreement, Congress stated that the "common terminus of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads shall be at or near Ogden; and the Union Pacific Railroad Company shall build, and the Central Pacific Railroad Company shall pay for and own, the railroad from the terminus [in Ogden] to Promontory Point [it should have said Station], at which point the rails shall meet and connect and form one continuous line." So Ogden became the railroad terminal and thus was blessed also with the notoriety of a 25th Street.
Now let's take a brief look at those Utahns who had leading roles in construction of the Pacific Railroad through Utah: Brigham Young and his three oldest sons: Joseph Angell, Brigham, Jr., and John Willard Young; also John Sharp, Ezra Taft Benson, Lorin Farr, and Chauncey W. West.
Perhaps the most obvious fact is the importance Brigham Young attached to the railroad project, in becoming personally involved with it and also involving his three eldest sons in it. All three of these sons, incidentally, were by his second wife, Mary Ann Angell, whom he married at Kirtland, Ohio, February 18, 1834, a year and a half after the death of his first wife, Miriam Works, by whom he had two daughters. A second point of interest to be noted in this group of eight men is the high ecclesiastical standing. Surely it was something unique and novel in the annals of railroading for construction to be headed by prophets, seers, revelators, apostles, stake presidents, and bishops, and all but one of them polygamists. How much reassurance this religious influence afforded the officials of Union Pacific and Central Pacific has not been recorded. Almost certainly it was a source of amusement to them, especially in that one was an Angell. Brigham Young's endorsement of the project was all they needed to be assured the cooperation of the Mormon commonwealth. And it is perhaps worth noting that all of the railroad officials' dealings were with him and that they paid no attention whatsoever to Charles Durkee, the federally appointed Utah Territorial governor. Durkee? Who was Durkee?
Brigham Young was easily the most important, the most powerful and influential man in western America. His word was law throughout the intermountain west. Due to petty politics and to anti-Mormon prejudice by petty politicians in the national government, he had been deprived of his former position as Utah Territorial governor, a position to which he was appointed by President Millard Fillmore in 1850 and continued in until 1858. But as the leading colonizer of the Great Basin and as president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he still was the dominant figure in secular as well as ecclesiastical affairs in Utah. Born June 1, 1801, in Vermont, Brigham Young joined the Mormon Church in 1832, was made a member of its newly formed Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1835, became president of the Twelve in 1839, took over leadership of the Church upon the death of Joseph Smith in 1844, led the Saints to the Rocky Mountains in 1846-47, was sustained as president of the Church December 27, 1847, and served in that position longer than has any other person. President Young was sixty-seven years of age at the time of his dealing with the Union Pacific and Central Pacific?considerably older than most of the railroad officials. He was revered as a prophet of God by the Mormons and misunderstood and generally detested by non-Mormons, who had been persuaded to a distorted, muddied image of him by hack writers. Newspapers, magazines, and books of the day were picturing the Mormon leader as an ugly ogre in the mountains, powerful, wealthy, ruthless, lecherous, surrounded by a countless harem of benighted women, and preying upon the gullibility and superstition of a fanatical, ignorant people. Such was the scurvy nonsense with which Brigham Young had to contend. There can be little doubt but that Dr. Durant and others of the railroad officials who deliberately planned to swindle him in the construction contracts coldly calculated that because of this prejudice against him and the Mormons, public opinion would be on their side in any controversy that might arise over the matter, regardless of how unethical their behavior was. President Young died August 29, 1877, in Salt Lake City at the age of seventy-six.
Joseph Angell Young was Brigham's oldest son and third oldest child. He was born at Kirtland, Ohio, October 13, 1834, and named in honor of the Prophet Joseph Smith and Brigham's older brother Joseph, the first president of the LDS seventies quorum. He was only twelve years old when the Saints were driven from Nauvoo and crossed the plains by covered wagon to Utah. At twenty he was filling a mission to Great Britain, and upon his return home in 1856 he was among a group of heroic men who pushed their way through bitter cold and deep snow to rescue a handcart company that had gotten stranded on its way to Utah. These personal experiences were enough to persuade him of the importance of a railroad into Utah, and he was one of the first Mormons to express interest in working on it. Upon completion of the Pacific Railroad, Joseph helped to build the Utah Central Railroad, from Ogden to Salt Lake City, serving as its first superintendent, 1869-71. In 1872 he was appointed to preside over the Sevier district of the Church, extending from Gunnison to Kanab, and in 1874 he became president of the newly formed Sevier Stake. Here he also promoted construction of the Utah Southern Railroad. He served in nine sessions of the Utah Territorial Legislature. According to Andrew Jenson, Assistant Church Historian, due to persecutions against the Mormons, Joseph Young "was deprived of the advantage of an early education, but was a discriminating and passionate reader, and at the time of his death had, perhaps, the finest private library in the territory." He died suddenly at Manti, Sanpete County, August 5, 1875, at the age of forty-one, two years before his father's death.
Brigham Young, Jr., was second oldest of Brigham's sons. Two years younger than Joseph, he too was born at Kirtland, Ohio, December 18, 1836. A family history relates that at ten years of age the boy was off playing somewhere the day his father's family fled from their home in Nauvoo. Little Brigham returned to find the house empty and the city fast being deserted. The frightened lad was later picked up by his father. As a youngster he drove a covered wagon some nine hundred miles to Utah. Following his return from a mission to Europe, he was ordained an apostle (though not a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles) on February 4, 1864, then returned to Europe as president of the Church missions there. In 1868 he was named as an additional counselor to his father in the Church presidency, and in 1868 he was also appointed to the Council of Twelve; in 1873 he was designated as an assistant counselor to his father, and in 1901 he became president of the Council of Twelve. He served several terms in the Territorial Legislature and was twice a general manager of the Deseret News. Of the three boys, he participated least in the railroad affairs. He died April 11, 1903, in Salt Lake City, at the age of sixty-six.
John Willard Young was ten years younger than Joseph, having been born October 1, 1844, in Nauvoo. At nineteen years of age he was ordained an apostle by his father-on February 4, 1864, the same day Brigham, Jr., was so ordained. Following a mission to Europe, he was named an assistant counselor to his father. Upon the death of President George A. Smith in 1876, he was sustained as first counselor to President Young, serving in that position until his father's death the following year. He was then named as a counselor to the Twelve Apostles, a position he held for seven years. After his father's death he became owner of the Beehive House and extensively remodeled that famous dwelling. He continued active in railroading, being instrumental in construction of the Utah Northern Railroad, which later became a branch of Union Pacific. He died in February, 1924, in Salt Lake City at the age of seventy-nine.
John Sharp was a hard-working, industrious Scotsman. Born in 1820, he began to work in the coal pits at eight years of age. He was converted to the Mormon Church in 1847. He and two brothers set out for Zion the following year, finally reaching Salt Lake City in August, 1850. He was superintendent of the Church quarry when the huge blocks of granite were cut for the Salt Lake Temple, the massive wall around Temple Square, and other structures. In 1854 he was ordained by Brigham Young as the first bishop of Salt Lake Twentieth Ward. Ten years later he was appointed as assistant superintendent of public works, and he became acting superintendent when Daniel H. Wells was called to preside over the European missions of the Church. Recognizing his industry and ability, President Young invited him to become a chief subcontractor on the Union Pacific contract, particularly to be in charge of the bridge and tunnel work, where his experience in stone cutting would be most valuable. Bishop Sharp represented Brigham Young at the Golden Spike ceremony at Promontory. When Union Pacific failed to pay the Mormons as it should for their work on the railroad, it was John Sharp, along with Joseph A. Young and Apostle John Taylor, whom Brigham Young sent east to do battle for the Church. Sharp played a key part in construction of the Utah Central Railroad in 1869-70, became its superintendent in 1871, and its president in 1873. He was also named vice-president of the Utah Southern Railroad Company when that was organized in 1870. As purchasing agent for this company, he became well acquainted with some of the Union Pacific directors in New York and eventually was named a UP director, which position he retained until his death December 23, 1891, in Salt Lake City. John Sharp for many years was known as "the railroad bishop." It was quite a climb he had made in life, from the coal pits of Scotland.
Ezra Taft Benson, great-grandfather of the current LDS apostle of that name, was also an apostle of the Church, having been ordained by Brigham Young at Council Bluffs, Iowa, on July 16, 1846. He was born at Mendon, Massachusetts, February 22, 1811, and was converted to Mormonism at Quincy, Illinois, in 1840 after hearing a debate between the Prophet Joseph Smith and a non-Mormon. He was a member of the first pioneer company to Utah. In 1856 he, with Orson Pratt, presided over the European missions and later the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands mission. For several years he was the presiding elder of the Church in Cache Valley. He also served several sessions in the Territorial Legislature. In September, 1868, under Brigham Young's direction, he along with Lorin Farr and Chauncey West, both of Ogden, signed a contract with Central Pacific for grading and bridge work through Utah. But they had the same grievous experience with CP that Brigham Young had with UP: Apostle Benson was still trying to collect payment from CP when he died suddenly on September 3, 1869, just after his arrival in Ogden from his home in Logan. Extreme anxiety over financial obligations incurred by the unpaid railroad work was believed to be a contributory cause of his death, at the age of fifty-eight.
Lorin Farr was the first mayor of Ogden, the city destined to become the eastern and western terminus of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific respectively. He was also the first president of the Weber Stake of the Church. He served as mayor 1851-70 and was elected again in 1877. He served also as a member of the Territorial Legislature from its beginning in 1851 until 1887. He operated the first gristmill and the first sawmill in the Ogden area. In 1870, the year following completion of the transcontinental railroad, he filled a Church mission to Europe. He was born July 27, 1820, at Waterford, Vermont. As a convert to the Church, he came to Utah in 1847. He was superintendent of grading on Central Pacific for two hundred miles northwest of Ogden. Later he was a key person in building the Utah Northern Railroad between Ogden and Brigham City. Mr. Farr died January 12, 1909, in Ogden, at the age of eighty-eight.
Chauncey Walker West was appointed LDS bishop of the Ogden First Ward in 1855 and for many years was designated as the presiding bishop in Weber County. He was a member of the Territorial Legislature for several terms and was colonel of the Weber County Military District and a brigadier general in the Nauvoo Legion in Utah. He was born February 6, 1827, in Orange Township, Erie County, Pennsylvania. As a Church convert, he came to Utah in 1847. He filled a Church mission to Siam in 1852 and one to England in 1863, during which time he also served as president of the European missions. Like Ezra Taft Benson, he hardly more than survived the completion of the railroad, dying on January 9, 1870, at the age of forty-two.
Photos courtesy LDS Church Information Services, The Deseret News, and Mrs. John Cannon Miller.
Courtesy Pat Williams, Deseret Book Company.