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Boston to San Francisco
May 23rd to July 1st, 1870.
BOSTON BOARD OF TRADE
An on-board newspaper accounting of
THE FIRST CHARTERED RAILROAD EXCURSION FROM, ATLANTIC TO PACIFIC
Part of the fascination of reading old newspapers is the glorious sense of reliving the past. Newspapers are the telling of history as it was made, for history is never more fascinating than when read from the day it was first reported.
The TRANS-CONTINENTAL was a stroke of historical genius in the mind of its editor, W. R. Steele. On May 24, 1870 over 130 passengers, most members and family of the Boston Board of Trade,* boarded a beautiful eight car Pullman train built under special orders of George M. Pullman specifically for this trip, the first chartered excursion by rail from Atlantic to Pacific. On board was carried a quartomedium Gordon Press which printed 12 issues of the TRANS-CONTINENTAL, each at a different point along the round-trip journey.
It was a glorious affair enjoyed by all, amid the splendor of the finest mode of living ever constructed on wheels. For their enjoyment, the passengers were lavished with the finest food, surrounded by a setting which few of the finest mansions constructed could rival, including two magnificent organs and two wellstocked libraries. Sites of the new West as well as extraneous news and anecdotes of the day were recorded in the pages of the TRANS- CONTINENTAL, witnessed by the passengers continually in awe of the splendor of the prairies, magnificence of the Rockies and the warmth and hospitality of the people they met along the way.
The TRANS-CONTINENTAL lasted but 42 days and 12 issues. Yet, it captured for generations to come the spirit of exploring a grand, new country on board a 40 mile per hour mechanical carriage. In eight days its readers transversed a territory which at that time was thought a hazardous stretch of enchantment, known only through books and fabled accounts of yesterday's pioneers.
Few issues of the TRANS-CONTINENTAL remain. This reprint is provided to tell the story of one of America's early accomplishments, for the many who find fascination in yesterday's news.
TIMOTHY J. HUGHES
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[Click on a picture to get an enlarged view in a separate window.]
May harmless mirth flow freely from
Lips ever true, yet sentimental,
And ably fill the TRANS-CONTINENTAL"
Regarding another transcontinental railroad newspaper, with a racist editorial position, published by a captured former Confederate telegrapher, Legh R. Freeman, given amnesty to enlist and go west in the Union Army, who, with brother Fred Freeman, took over and renamed the former Nebraska newspaper the Kearney Herald in 1865, and by 1868 had worked their way across Wyoming, the American Antiquarian Society states that: "A Union Pacific baggage car carried a printing press on which Legh Freeman published the Frontier Index, at twenty-five different locations along the route. The issues from Julesburg, Colorado, and Fort Saunders, Wyoming, are in the Society's newspaper collection."
Soule stereoview #1116. Pullman Palace Cars, at Sacramento. Courtesy John Saddy & Jefferson Stereoptics.