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New York

[CHAPTER 4, pp. 52-93.]

The Builders of the Central Pacific Railroad
[Includes a section on Lewis Metzler Clement]

IN A HISTORY of the building of the Pacific Railroad, some mention must be made of the personalities of the men who originated and carried to completion a work that was the outstanding achievement of their time, notwithstanding the fact that the railroad itself is the most important element in the story. Interests will always center around the men who performed the work, and therefore we give here some account of their origin, their character, the incidents of their career, and the life they lived.


On the green lawn in front of the station building of the Southern Pacific Railroad in the city of Sacramento, the capitol of California, stands one of the few monuments erected in America to the memory of an engineer. Fittingly, the monument is made of massive granite boulders from the high Sierra Nevada, the snowy summits of which can be seen from the capital city on a clear day. It bears in bronze a medallion of the engineer, together with a brief statement of his services in organizing and locating the Central Pacific Railroad, now a part of the Southern Pacific System. The monument was erected to preserve the memory of one of the most gifted engineers of the nineteenth century, Theodore Dehone Judah. Only two other railroad engineers have been honored in this way, Samuel B. Reed of the Union Pacific, whose granite monument stands at Joliet, and John F. Stevens, whose statue was erected on the Marias Pass where the Great Northern Railroad crosses the Rocky Mountains.

The Judah monument at Sacramento, which was started and completed by W. H. Kirkbride, chief engineer of the Southern Pacific Company, was dedicated at a meeting of the American Society of Civil Engineers on April 26, 1930, and the completed Monument was unveiled in February, 1931. It bears this inscription:


More than two thirds of a century had passed after Judah left the scene of his labors in the mountains of California before his name was perpetuated by the memorial. The history of the Central Pacific Railroad begins with Judah, and in the years before his early death that history was largely involved with his efforts in business and legislative matters as well as with the expected engineering problems.

Theodore Dehone Judah was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on March 4, 1826, and he died in New York, November 2, 1863, at thirty-seven years of age. His father was an Episcopal clergyman who moved his family to Troy, New York, when the son was still a baby. Besides Theodore, there were two other sons, Henry M. Judah, who rose to the rank of brigadier general in the Civil War, and Charles D. Judah, who went to California in 1849 and became a member of the firm of Hackett and Judah. As a young man, Theodore D. Judah was destined for the Navy, but he turned to engineering and was graduated from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy.

Judah's first work was with the early Schenectady and Troy Railroad under W. S. Hall, chief engineer. This was the era of railroad building and Judah found work on several of the short railroads of that period, notably with the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, and the Connecticut River Railroad. For a time he was employed on a section of the Erie Canal and also helped erect a large bridge at Vergennes, Vermont. The Niagara Gorge Railroad from Niagara to Lewiston, at that time considered a remarkable feat of engineering, was built under his charge. While in Greenfield, Massachusetts, on his railroad work, he met Anna Ferona Pierce, daughter of a local merchant, and they were married May 10, 1847, twenty-two years to the day before the completion of the Pacific Railroad on which Judah expended the greatest years of his career. The young wife was to follow her husband over land and sea before his death, as did many another engineer's wife in those days. Judah was in Buffalo in charge of construction on the Buffalo and New York Railroad, now a part of the Erie System, when he was called to California to take charge of the Sacramento Valley Railroad.

The Sacramento Valley Railroad was built from Sacramento along the sloping plain eastward to the town of Folsom. The route lay south of the American River. There were no difficulties in the construction and only one small creek had to be bridged. At that time, 1854, Folsom, situated close to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, was a starting point to the gold placers on the American River. It was only twenty-two miles to Coloma on the South Fork, where gold was discovered in 1848. When the placer mines were exhausted, Folsom declined in importance, and the railroad lost its principal source of revenue. After Judah had left the road, it was extended northward along the base of the mountains as far as Lincoln. Ultimately the road was purchased by the Central Pacific, the portion to Lincoln was removed, and from Folsom it was extended to Placerville.

The Sacramento Valley Railroad was organized by California men in 1853 with Col. Charles L. Wilson as president. In 1854 Colonel Wilson was in New York purchasing supplies for the road and met Judah, who had been recommended by Governor Horatio Seymour and his brother [sic] Colonel Silas Seymour, both of whom had known the young man. Judah was promptly engaged and after hurried preparations lie and his wife sailed for California in April, 1854. He told his wife that he was going to California to be the pioneer railroad engineer on the Pacific coast, and this turned out to be true. Even at this early date he was considering the subject of the transcontinental railroad and would say, "It will be built, and I am going to have something to do with it."

For the new railroad, Judah's surveys extended to Mormon Island, a few miles upstream from Folsom, but the line was never built to that point. Judah made a report, "The Report of die Chief Engineer on the Preliminary Surveys and Future Business of the Sacramento Valley Railroad," dated May 30, 1854, in which he described the line and the favorable conditions surrounding it. In November a contract was given to an eastern firm of railroad builders, Robinson, Seymour and Company, who were paid $1,800,000, of which $800,000 was paid in capital stock and $700,000 in 10 per cent, twenty year bonds. This type of contract, in which the contractor finances the work, nearly always breeds trouble, because the contractor invariably feels that lie may do as he pleases with the work. It is probable that Judah locked horns with Robinson about the character of the work, because they became enemies and in later years Robinson tried to place obstacles in the way of Judah and the work with which lie was connected. The railroad was completed to Folsom early in February, 1856, at which time Judah left its service.

For the next three years Judah was engaged on several other projects, one of which was with the San Francisco and Sacramento Railroad as chief engineer. The line was projected to run from Sacramento to Benicia. Judah reported on the cost in a report dated February, 1856, which he set at $3,000,000, or $51,707 per mile, and he estimated the possible revenue. The road was to connect at Sacramento with the Sacramento Valley Railroad, and Judah also stated that it would connect with the "Great Pacific Railroad." It was evident that he kept his big project in mind when engaged in other work. The San Francisco and Sacramento line, like several others projected at that time and with which Judah was connected, was never built. One line that he was said to have surveyed led from San Francisco to San Jose, a road that was afterward built and later purchased by the Central Pacific Railroad Company. He also made some explorations of the Sierra Nevada, possibly for the Sacramento Valley Railroad Company.

In addition to his work in California in this period, Judah attended three sessions of Congress in behalf of the Pacific Railroad Project and Carl I. Wheat says, "The general subject of a Pacific Railroad developed during this period almost to an obsession." When the results of the government surveys became known the agitation for the Pacific Railroad grew in strength. These reports, while complete, could not of themselves produce a railroad. Congress could not agree upon a route and the country was rapidly drifting toward the Civil War. On January 1, 1857, Judah published a pamphlet in Washington entitled, "A Practical Plan for Building the Pacific Railroad, by T. D. Judah, Civil Engineer, San Francisco," in which he outlined the substance of a railroad project to be built by private enterprise without government aid. He said, "The General Government ... is a house divided against itself; it cannot be done until the route is defined, and if defined, the opposing interest is powerful enough to defeat it." His estimate of the general situation was correct. He maintained that what was required was a definite survey on a selected route and not several general reconnaissance surveys on several routes upon which differences of opinion would certainly arise. He stated in his pamphlet that about $200,000 was required for surveys and that the project for the 2,000 miles of road would average in cost about $75,000 per mile or a total of $150,000,000. There was much additional argument in the pamphlet, but of course Congress did nothing.

Judah returned from Washington convinced that the subject of a Pacific Railroad must be agitated from the West. Probably under the inspiration of Judah, the California State Legislature on April 5, 1859, passed a resolution calling for a convention to consider the subject. The convention, numbering over a hundred members, met in San Francisco on September 20, 1859, with Judah as a representative from Sacramento. Debate, as usual. centered on the route to be adopted and a resolution was passed expressing preference for the central railroad route. There were a number of ideas discussed by the convention, and in all of the actions taken Judah played a prominent part. In the end, on October 11, 1859, the Executive Committee formally appointed Judah as the accredited agent of the convention to convey its memorial to Washington. He sailed for the East on October 20.

On the steamer he met Mr. J. C. Burch, a newly elected congressman from California, and General Lane, senator from Oregon. One result of this acquaintance was that bills were put in shape and introduced in Congress by Burch, and a compromise measure was brought to the Senate by Senator Gwin of California. However, under the press of other more important business, the bills never reached a vote, although Judah established an office in the capitol and filled it with maps and other data for the enlightenment of members of Congress. His work, though, laid the foundation for the later bills that were passed in 1862.

During the time Judah spent in the East, he visited many places, going as far west as Chicago, and he took pains to accumulate information regarding the latest data on railroads, such as grades, especially of lines that cross the Appalachian Mountains, notably the Baltimore and Ohio, which were examples of what could and should be done. Judah returned to California convinced that nothing could be accomplished in Congress until an actual project was outlined, with proper surveys, estimates, and organization.

Daniel W. StrongIn 1860, Judah was in the mountains, making a reconnaissance of several routes, using a barometer to determine elevations. He examined a route through Eldorado County, California, by way of Georgetown, another by way of Henness Pass at the headwaters of the North Yuba, and third by the Dutch Flat Route over Donner Pass. Judah's attention to the latter route, which was the one over which the railroad was built, came at the suggestion of Dr. Daniel W. Strong, a druggist of Dutch Flat. Dr. Strong had heard of Judah's explorations and invited him to come to Dutch Flat to examine the Donner Pass route. The route was one traveled by some of the early emigrants who came up the Truckee River and crossed the divide, usually over the Emigrant Pass, some two miles south of the Donner Pass. It was not a much used route, as more favorable wagon roads lay over the Henness Pass to the north, and to the south by the South Fork of the American River over either Carson or Johnson Passes. At that time, the tide of emigration had moved east to the mines of Nevada at Virginia City and Gold Hill, and Dr. Strong, with others, was interested in a possible wagon route through Dutch Flat and over the Donner Pass in order to divert some of the eastbound traffic through his home town. Strong was not acquainted with Judah at that time, but when Judah reached Dutch Flat, a friendship was formed that lasted until the engineer died.

It is not necessary to discuss to whom belongs the credit for determining the route of the railroad over the Sierra Nevada. Dr. Strong undoubtedly is entitled to the credit for the suggestion of the route that had been known as the Emigrant Trail. However, it needed the trained eye of a practical engineer to determine in a preliminary way the merits of the location that was afterward adopted. The two men went over the route across the mountains in the fall of 1860, and on their return, Judah prepared the engineering data at Dr. Strong's store in Dutch Flat. It was agreed that a corporation should be formed and articles were written with that end in view. Dr. Strong secured a number of stock subscriptions and Judah prepared a pamphlet entitled "Central Pacific Railroad to California," which was published in San Francisco on November 10, 1860. In this pamphlet he said:

"Confident of the existence of a practical route across the Sierra Nevada Mountains, nearer and more direct than the pro. posed line via Madeline Pass and the headwaters of the Sacramento, I have devoted the past few months to an exploration of several routes and passes through Central California, resulting in the discovery of a practicable route from the city of Sacramento upon the divide between Bear River and the North Fork of the American, via Illinoistown, Dutch Flat, and Summit Valley to the Truckee River; which gives nearly a direct line to  Washoe with maximum grades of one hundred feet per mile . . . The elevation of the Pass is 6,690 feet."

Judah made the point that this route was shorter by perhaps 150 miles than the route in the government reports. He also dwelt on the possibilities of the Nevada mine trade, estimating the resulting revenue therefrom for both a railroad and a wagon road. Government aid was contemplated.

Dr. Strong obtained subscriptions amounting to $46,500, and Judah went to San Francisco to obtain the remainder, some $70,000. Although he was well received at first, when the time came for subscriptions no one was willing to enter his name. Judah, who was called an enthusiastic lunatic, returned to Sacramento disgusted with San Francisco. A meeting in Sacramento, the first of several, was well attended. At later meetings Judah met for the first time the men who were to carry out the project Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker. Others present were Dr. Strong, Lucius A. Booth, James Bailey, a jeweler, Cornelius Cole, later congressman and senator from California, and B. F. Leete, one of Judah's surveyors. Huntington was cautious and agreed only to share the cost of the surveys; after those were made he would consider the subject further.

The result was that an organization meeting of stockholders was held April 30, 1861, and on the 28th of June the Central Pacific Railroad was incorporated. The company gave Judah the necessary money for surveys, and field parties were soon organized. A barometric reconnaissance was made of two other routes, at that time deemed possible. One was up the Yuba River via Downieville, and across the North Fork of the Yuba Pass; the other was by way of Oroville, the Middle Fork of the Feather River, and across Sierra Valley to Beckwourth's Pass. Like the other routes formerly examined, they were judged to be markedly inferior to the selected route via Donner Pass and the Truckee River. The results of the survey and the other examinations were embodied in a report by Judah dated at Sacramento October 1, 1861, to the president and directors of the Central Pacific Railroad, in which the merits of the route were discussed and the benefits from government assistance set forth. Cost estimates of $12,380,000 were made from Sacramento to the state line, and to several other more distant points as far as Salt Lake City, the total for 733 miles being $41,415,000. Of this, the estimate for 451 miles from Lassens Meadow on the Humboldt River to Salt Lake City was that made by Lieutenant Beckwith of the government surveys in the previous decade. There was a saving of distance of 184 miles over the government route. Following the report, the directors passed this resolution:

October 9, 1861: "Resolved, that Mr. T. D. Judah, the Chief Engineer of this Company, proceed to Washington on the steamer on the 11th Oct. inst. as the accredited agent of the Central Pacific Railroad Company of California, for purpose of procuring appropriations of land and U. S. Bonds from the Government, to aid in the construction of this road."
On his arrival in Washington, Judah began an active campaign for the bill for a Pacific Railroad. Senator A. A. Sargent of California, whom Judah had met on the steamer, led in arousing the Senate, so that a subcommittee of the Pacific Railroad Committee was appointed to draft a bill. Judah had obtained an appointment as Secretary of the Senate Committee and was also made clerk of a subcommittee in the House. Others were also working for the bill, which finally became a law, signed by President Lincoln July 1, 1862. Lands, rights of way, and aids in the form of first-mortgage government bonds were the essential elements of the bill, which also provided for the organization of the Union Pacific Railroad Company. Bonds were to be issued when forty miles of railroad had been constructed.

After preliminary matters had been adjusted, Judah went to New York to order supplies. Formal acceptance of the contract between the government and the Central Pacific Railroad Company was signed November 1, 1862. Judah sailed for California on July 21, his long struggle for the railroad having been completed.

On his return to Sacramento, Judah filed his second report with the company, dated October 22, 1862. He enumerated the advantages of the arrangement with the government, the value of the land grants, the amount of lumber available, and the anticipated revenue, which was to be largely from local traffic and from traffic with Washoe, as the Virginia City - Gold Hill mining developments were then known. An agent at Strawberry on the American River made an actual count of freight and passenger traffic on the American River route, and upon this Judah's estimates were based. The estimates may have been overly optimistic, but they showed that a good business existed. The Act of 1862 permitted the California company to build eastward until it met the Union Pacific Railroad, and Judah urged the company promptly to extend its surveys as far as Salt Lake City. The road was rapidly taking on the character of a transcontinental line, with the greater cost and larger outlook.

Construction started on January 8, 1863, when ground was broken at Sacramento. In the later months of 1862, surveys had been pushed by several parties in the mountains. In December, Charles Crocker was given a contract for grading the first thirty miles to Newcastle, subcontractors taking short sections of the line.

In a report to the directors, dated June 1, 1863, Judah, as chief engineer, describes in detail the surveys made tip to that date and refers especially to the preliminary location surveys on the adopted route over the mountains. In addition, he again describes the barometrical reconnaissances of other routes and weighs the advantages and disadvantages of these locations. There had been a number of reconnaissances made with the idea of passing by way of Virginia City, all of which showed that no practical route could be found. A possible route was examined that led south from the Truckee River through the Truckee Meadows and to the Carson River in Eagle Valley:

thence down the Carson River to the desert, but this route was obviously longer and no better than the selected route down the Truckee River to the big bend of that stream.

In July, Judah made what was his last report to the directors. In addition to the account of the surveys, there was an estimate of the cost of the first fifty miles. He also gave reasons why the Sacramento Valley Railroad was not adapted to the railroad they were building. The existing road was not in the proper location, being eight miles longer to Auburn. The government bill applied only to a new road. The older road was heavily bonded and since the government bonds would not be available, the worn rails of English make would have to be replaced with American iron and much repair work was necessary. Finally the road did not command the possible traffic from the northern region of the state. The decision was correct, but much criticism was voiced against Judah by the owners of the older road, who wanted to sell out.

During the period of active work and the prosecution of surveys, differences of opinion had developed between Judah and the men who were directing the affairs of the company—Stanford, Huntington, Hopkins, and Crocker. Most of the other directors had dropped out. Judah became impatient and expressed himself in a letter to his friend Strong, dated May 13, 1863:

"I cannot tell you in the brief space of a letter all that is going on, or of all that has taken place; suffice to say that I have had a pretty hard row to hoe.

"I had a blow-out about two weeks ago and freed my mind, so much so that I looked for instant decapitation. I called things by their right name and invited war; but councils of peace prevailed and my head is still on; but my hands are tied, however. We have no meeting of the board nowadays, except the regular monthly meeting, which, however, was not held this month; but there have been any quantity of private conferences to which I have not been invited."

Judah maintained that his stock subscription had been paid for by his previous services, but Hopkins ruled otherwise. Huntington returned from the East and evidently was an influence that Judah resented. He objected to exclusive contracts being given to Crocker and in a letter declared that he had prevented a certain gentleman, probably meaning Crocker, from being a contractor on the road. The Associates had themselves organized the Dutch Flat and Donner Lake wagon road, which was intended to bring to the railroad much needed revenue from Washoe mines. However, it was not a railroad wagon road but one belonging to the Associates, and the revenues, if any, from the wagon road belonged to them and not to the railroad. This was but one of many sources of differences between Judah and his friends on one hand, and the four Associates on the other. Judah was an engineer and wanted to get on with building the road. The Associates had before them the problem of financing the railroad and of meeting the continuous attacks made on their enterprise by antagonistic interests. For them, there was no use going on with the construction unless they could control the venture and assure themselves of a substantial profit. The nature of the men involved in the controversy was an element that made for discord. Judah was a strong, persistent, emphatic character. The railroad project was his own, one that lie had developed, and brought to realization. To have others take charge was a thing he could not comprehend. On the other hand, lie was dealing with four men equally strong-minded who intended to dominate the enterprise if it was carried out. A clash was inevitable, and while the details are lacking, it is clear that the subject came to a head in the summer of 1863.

The result was that Judah was bought out for the sum of $100,000, but at the same time he was given an option to buy out the Associates for an equal amount each. They evidently were in doubt as to the possibilities for profit and were willing to get out for the sum named. They were all merchants and not railroad builders, and at that time the government help, from the nature of the law, was of little or no benefit. Judah arranged to go East and he left in September. When leaving, he wrote Dr. Strong about the situation and intimated what he intended to do.

"I have a feeling of relief in being away from the scenes of contention and strife which has been my lot to experience for the past year, and to know that the responsibility of events, so far as regards the Pacific Railroad, do not rest on my shoulders. If the parties that now manage hold to the same opinion three months hence that they do now, there will be a radical change in the management of the Pacific Railroad, and it will pass into the hands of men of experience and capital. If they do not, they may hold the reins for awhile, but they will rue the day that they ever embarked in the Pacific Railroad.

"If they treat me well they may expect similar treatment at my hands. If not, I am able to play my hand.

"If I succeed in inducing the parties I expect to see to return with me to California, I shall likely return the latter part of December."

There is evidence that Judah had arranged to meet certain men in New York, and Mrs. Judah later stated that it was the Vanderbilt group, then in control of the New York Central Railroad, whom Judah expected to see. He sailed from San Francisco on the steamer St. Louis early in October, 1863, but contracted Panama fever at the Isthmus. He reached New York on the 28th, and died a few days later. He was buried at Greenfield, Massachusetts, the girlhood home of his wife. He lacked four months of being thirty-eight years of age.

Thus ended the remarkable career of a man to whom must be given the credit for originating a workable plan for the Pacific Railroad in California, of organizing a company to prosecute the work, of determining the location and of commencing construction. On Judah's death, enemies of the railroad endeavored to smirch his character, and none was more ready than one of the former promoters of the Sacramento Valley Railroad and of a paper project for a railroad by way of Placerville to the Virginia City mines. Pamphlets were written and distributed, and the officials of the Central Pacific answered. They are of interest now, not as regards the railroad as built, but as an indication of the type of men who would stop at nothing in their efforts to injure the reputation of a man who could not reply, thus hoping to injure the project for which he had given his life.

There has been much criticism of the men of the railroad company for consigning the memory of Judah to oblivion. Therefore facts bearing on this subject are of interest. The board of directors passed a resolution expressing sorrow for the death of their associate and chief engineer, extended their sympathies to Mrs. Judah, and resolved: "That the death of Mr. Judah, in the prime of his manhood and the full career of his usefulness, will be felt far beyond the immediate circle of his acquaintance. His ability as an engineer, his untiring energy of character, and the success with which he followed his profession, place him among those whose lives are a benefit to the State, and in whose death the public experiences an undoubted calamity."

The resolution was signed by Leland Stanford as president and E. H. Miller as secretary. The Sacramento Union, headed an article in November: "Death of a Distinguished Engineer." In answer to some of the slanders, Stanford declared that Judah remained the chief engineer up to the time of his death. It is worthy of note in this connection that when the bill of 1862 was passed by Congress, James H. Campbell, Chairman of the Select Committee on the Pacific Railroad, and A. A. Sargent, of the subcommittee of the House, signed a testimonial to Judah reciting his services in assisting the passage of a bill through Congress and especially for the accurate and detailed information he had supplied. This testimonial was signed by thirty-five members of the House and by seventeen Senators. It was a most unusual proceeding. It was only natural that Mrs. Judah should see only the part that her dead husband played in the founding of the Central Pacific and voice some feeling against the men of the railroad company. In justice to them, however, it must be said that there was not much they could do. Naming a station or an engine after the dead engineer would hardly have been adequate. It is inevitable that the memory of even exceptional men should pass away, for the living are but little concerned with the dead.

For over seventy years since the completion of the railroad on the lines projected by Judah, the traffic of central California and the West has been carried over the Central Pacific. In spite of the fact that eight other transcontinental railroads have been built, the central route retains its pre-eminence. The railroad was built on the route selected by Judah, and that is his monument. None better could be devised for any man.


After Judah had formulated plans for the Central Pacific project, it was necessary to enlist men of means who could finance and carry on the building of the railroad. It was natural, therefore, for Judah to turn to the friends who had assisted him in his first work, but it was not until the services of the four men who finally took hold of the enterprise had been obtained, that the project became a reality. Those four men were Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker. They were all merchants having their headquarters in Sacramento, and prior to the time of starting the railroad had never been connected with a project of that sort.

The four men, known as "The Associates" and in the popular mind as "The Big Four," formed a group that was unique in American industrial history. They were men of diverse character but all were in the prime of life and each found a place in the work of building the railroad to which he was best suited. Stanford, with a flair for politics and the management of the railroad, became the president. Huntington, who developed into the most able of the group, became vice president and purchaser of supplies in New York, and what was of greater importance, the seller of the railroad securities to meet the construction costs. At the same time he attended to legislation in Washington. Crocker became the head and director of the construction forces and, as such, believed that he built the railroad; while Hopkins, an older man, directed the accounts and harmonized the diverse opinions of his three colleagues. These were the four men who carried the railroad to completion. Not being troubled to any great extent by the government at Washington, and without any material dissension, they worked well together, each in his own place.


Leland Stanford. The man whose activities form a part of the history of California for more than three decades and whose name is perpetuated in the great university that he founded and endowed, was born March 9, 1824, the fourth son of a family of seven sons and one daughter. Leland Stanford Signature.  Courtesy Johns' Western Gallery.His parents were then living in the township of Watervliet, not far from Albany, New York, but they were both of families resident in New England since the middle of the seventeenth century.

As a boy, Stanford lived on a farm and was required to help in the work of the farm and in cutting wood for market. He attended public schools, and to complete his education spent a period, 1844-45, at Cazenovia Seminary near Syracuse. He studied law in an office in Albany and was admitted to practice in 1848 when twenty-four years of age. He then moved west to Port Washington, an inspiring town in Wisconsin, where he practiced law for four years until fire consumed part of the town, together with Stanford's law library, papers, and other belongings. He then returned to his home in Albany and on September 30, 1850, married Jane E. Lathrop, who was for forty-three years his good and faithful wife.

Stanford's elder brother, Josiah, had gone to California in 1851 and three other brothers had joined him. Thus it was that Leland Stanford, leaving his wife with her parents, also went to California, reaching San Francisco July 12, 1852. The brothers engaged in supplying miners in the gold regions, and later Stanford conducted a business alone at Michigan Bluff, on a mountain 2,000 feet above the American River. After operating the business for over two years, Stanford, on hearing of the death of his wife's father, sold his business and returned to Albany for his wife. They made the return trip to Sacramento in the fall of 1855, when Stanford renewed his business alone, although the firm's name was Stanford Brothers. He next entered a mining venture, which, unlike most investments of that nature, was profitable. By the time the railroad project was brought to his attention, Stanford was a man of considerable wealth, and his grocery and mining supply business was making a good deal of money.

Stanford had been a Whig in politics, but at that time the party was dissolving over the slavery question. Having strong views on that subject, he assisted in forming the Republican party in California in 1857, and it was there that he met his future associates, Hopkins, Huntington, and Crocker. Stanford became the nominee of the embryo party for state treasurer in 1857 and for governor in 1859, but was defeated in both elections. However, in the critical election of 1861, Stanford was elected governor and served for the years 1862 and 1863, his influence being an important factor in keeping California in the Union.

Stanford became president of the Central Pacific about the time he was inaugurated governor, and soon afterward sold his grocery business to Booth and Company. From then on, especially after his term expired in 1863, he devoted his full efforts to the railroad.

When the Southern Pacific Company was organized in 1885 and the Central Pacific was leased to the new organization, Stanford became president of the Southern Pacific, which position he held until 1890, when he was ousted by Huntington, his former friend. Stanford, however, remained president of the Central Pacific Railroad until his death in 1893.

In his later years, Stanford's interest in other things besides railroads became evident. With his wife, and later with his son, he traveled widely in Europe, and his absence from California, and from the railroad specifically, was one of the reasons for Huntington's displeasure. Stanford also engaged extensively in farming, having a 55,000-acre ranch at Vina on the Sacramento River, where the largest vineyard in California was planted and where the making of fine wines was studied. He also held a 19,000-acre ranch near Gridley for the growing of wheat. His principal interest, however, was centered in his 9,000-acre ranch near Palo Alto, where he maintained a large establishment for breeding race horses.

After many years of married life a son was born to Stanford and his wife on May 14, 1868. The boy was trained with the intent of succeeding his father in business, but he died in Florence, Italy, in 1884. He was not quite sixteen years of age, and his death was a stunning blow to the father. It was then that Stanford conceived the idea of founding a university as a memorial to his lost son, and in the succeeding years the project took shape. The enabling act for the Leland Stanford junior University was passed, and on November 11, 1885, the founding grant was made by Stanford and his wife. The endowment was represented as being about $20,000,000. Construction of the university was started in March, the corner stone was laid May 14, 1887, and the university opened October 1, 1891. Herbert Hoover was a member of its first class.

In 1885, Stanford again entered politics when the state legislature elected him United States Senator from California. This election brought about a final break with Huntington, who claimed that the railroad influence should have been given to A. A. Sargent. Stanford served without distinction during his first term, and made a trip to Europe in 1890. He was then elected to a second term as senator in 1891, took his final trip to Europe in the summer of 1892, and died at his home in Palo

Alto, June 20, 1893. He was close to the allotted life span of three score years and ten, and had achieved success as success is usually measured, greater than most men of his time.


Collis Porter Huntington.The second in order of precedence of the four Associates was born in the village of Harwinton, Connecticut, on October 28, 1821, and died at his camp on Raquette Lake, New York, August 13, 1900. Collis Porter Huntington autographIn Collis Huntington's seventy-nine years of unremitting work, he raised himself from a poor country boy to a position of being one of the most able builders and operators in the history of American transportation. Huntington's life was one of the best examples of what a man born with the ability and the desire to achieve great things can do in this land of opportunity.

His father and mother, William and Elizabeth (Vincent) Huntington, were of New England ancestry, their forebears having come from England at a nearly date. There were nine children in the family, of which Collis P. was the fifth.

William Huntington was a farmer and the only education his boy received was from the local school that he attended four months out of the twelve, the other months being spent at work ' At the age of fourteen the boy left home and hired himself out to other farmers. At sixteen he was in New York City, from which place he engaged in various kinds of trading throughout the country, especially in the southern states. In doing so he accumulated sufficient funds to become, at twenty-one, a business partner with his older brother, Solon, at Oneonta, New York.

In 1848, after the news of the discovery of gold in California had been verified, the firm shipped a consignment of goods to California by way of Cape Horn, and in March, 1949, Huntington started for California with $1,200 in his pockets. Delayed on the Isthmus for three months, he took advantage of the stopover to deal in transportation and in the sale of goods which enterprise netted him an additional $4,000. By the time he reached California he was ready to set up business in Sacramento. In 1854, after accumulating considerable wealth, he formed a partnership with Mark Hopkins, whose store adjoined his on K Street. At that time steamers from San Francisco docked at Sacramento, which was a town of some 1-9,000 and the center of trade for mines of the Sierra Nevada.

The partnership with Mark Hopkins was ideal, since Huntington dictated the policy of the firm and was the outside man, while Hopkins attended to the bookkeeping and office details. The greatest confidence existed between the two men and their association of twenty-two years was terminated only by Hopkins' death in 1878.

When the Central Pacific was started, Huntington, after becoming vice president of the company, went to Washington with Judah to forward the Act of 1862. Thereafter most of his time was spent in the East, where he was active in Washington until the Act of 1864 was passed, which made financing of the railroads possible. After that, Huntington represented the railroad in New York. There he worked at raising funds by selling railroad securities and the government bonds allotted to the road, purchasing supplies, and chartering ships for freighting the equipment around the Horn or across the Isthmus of Panama. Finally, Huntington continued meeting men in Congress and in the departments where the issuance of bonds was attended to, where patents for the granted lands were made out, and where similar subjects were arranged. It was in these activities that Huntington's experience as a trader came into play to the great advantage of the railroad enterprise.

After the completion of the Central Pacific, Huntington carried on the work of building branch roads, of which the road to Portland, Oregon, was an example, and of extending the Southern Pacific Railroad through California, Arizona, and New Mexico to a junction with Tom Scott's Texas Pacific at El Paso, Texas, in 1883. By the purchase of some Texas roads and the construction of others, the Southern Pacific eventually reached New Orleans. There was a steamer line to New York, but Huntington wanted to extend the rail lines east of New Orleans. The other two Associates refused to go farther. Huntington went on by himself and in later years completed the Chesapeake and Ohio, and by finishing the work on the Louisville and Texas Railroad from Memphis to New Orleans, he became head of a system reaching from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts. In 1884, the Southern Pacific Company of Kentucky was formed, as a holding company that united by purchase or lease all its railroads west of the Mississippi in addition to its two steamship lines on the Pacific Ocean.

In all of these later ventures, Huntington was the moving spirit. Hopkins was dead, and Crocker, who was not well, was not adapted to that kind of work. Stanford, who retained the presidency of the road up to 1890, was busy with political affairs, his university, and travel in Europe. Huntington, who seldom did anything else but work, complained that his associates placed the burden upon his shoulders, but this was obviously due to the fact that he had long since become the strong man of the Big Four and as such carried the heavy load of responsibility better than did his associates. Finally, in 1890, Huntington ousted Stanford from the presidency of the Southern Pacific and assumed the position himself.

 It was well that he did so, for the panic of 1893 came soon after, with the result that many of the railroads of the country went into the hands of receivers. For many years, Huntington had been recognized as one of the great dominating personalities in American railroad and commercial life.  Thus by his standing in the financial world he was able to save his road from insolvency. He continued at the head of the railroad system for seven more years, until death finally caught up with the old man in 1900.

Huntington's activities extended into fields other than railroading. The most noted of these was the formation of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, served by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad.

Huntington was twice married. His first wife was Elizabeth S. Stoddard of Litchfield, Connecticut, whom he married on September 18, 1844, and who died in 1884. Later that same year he married Mrs. A. D. Worsham of New York and Alabama. There were no children, but Huntington had adopted his first wife's niece, Clara Prentice, when she was less than a year old, and the child was raised as Clara Huntington. Mrs. Worsham had a son, Archer, who also took the name of Huntington. Huntington, who often regretted the lack of a son such as Stanford or Crocker had, placed his confidence in his nephew, Henry Edwards Huntington, the son of his brother Solon, and to Henry Huntington was left a large share of his uncle's estate. After the death of the elder Huntington, the nephew married his uncle's widow, thus keeping the Huntington fortune intact. H. E. Huntington proved to be a man of ability and was active in the affairs of the railroad. He was also interested in real estate in southern California and in electric power development. He accumulated a large library of rare books and also a gallery of celebrated paintings, largely from Europe. On his death, provision was made for the world famous Huntington Library and Art Galley at San Marino. It was in this manner that the wealth of Collis P. Huntington finally came into the use of the public.

In his later years Collis Huntington indulged a taste for a few interests other than work. He had town houses in New York and San Francisco, a country place at Throggs Neck on Long Island Sound, and a summer camp at Raquette Lake in the Adirondacks, where he died. Andrew Carnegie once said that any man who died rich, died disgraced; and if that statement is correct, Huntington died disgraced. His wealth consisted of ownership of stock in many railroads and other enterprises, so it could be said that in this manner he used his fortune for the benefit of those who worked or rode on his railroads. He was said to have given sparingly to charity, but one who knew him said: "He was not a petty person. In his later years, each visit to San Francisco was the occasion for liberal donations to charities, public projects and various enterprises, with none of which he was familiar. One of his associates would prepare the list, it would be given a brief glance and approved." His principle charities were extended to the Negroes, whom he met in his early travels in the South. He was one of the chief supporters of the Hampton (Virginia) Normal and Industrial School for Negroes and Indians, and he also gave liberally to Tuskegee Institute, his idea being that Negroes should receive manual training in the simple arts such as woodworking, blacksmithing, etc. As Huntington detested publicity, it is possible that his charities were more extended than his critics gave him credit for.

A man who knew him said of Huntington:

"My personal contacts with Collis P. Huntington began about 1890. Undoubtedly he was a man of great personal force, and knew what he wanted, when he wanted it. In the nineties he was approachable, and while he never could be classed as genial, he certainly was affable. If his instructions were inadvertently overlooked or neglected, there was no storming on his part, but the offending party sought another job.

"He brooked no opposition, whether from associates or employees, on policies which had to be determined. This may be firmness rather than obstinacy, for he was not only willing to take advice, but welcomed the counsel of those whom he had learned to trust completely. This observation as to his character was well known to his secretary, George Miles, whose counsel was always heeded.

"On the other hand, he ignored his associates in San Francisco in the selection of officers for important posts with the railroad company. A general manager, a general coast representative, a chief counsel, and a director of purchases were appointed without consultation, and no formal action was ever taken by the Board of Directors. In other words, from his New York office he made selections, and notified the directors afterwards, using the appointee as his own messenger. The results were undoubtedly satisfactory as the appointments were excellent, and it is probable that the old gentleman would have been surprised if it were suggested that the directors liked to help direct."

The yellow journalists of the country made Huntington the target of some of their worst attacks, but nothing came of their tirades except that the general public even to this day have the impression, if any thought is given to the subject, that the builders of the Central Pacific were a set of unmitigated scoundrels who robbed the government and the people who lived where the railroad was built. A fairer judgment of men like Huntington will be obtained if it is considered that it is often men of his type who project and carry out great enterprises, which in the end benefit everyone. Personalities are forgotten but the great work that men like Huntington did endures. In this light, with all his faults, Collis P. Huntington should be remembered as one of the great builders of the America that the present generation has inherited.


Charles Crocker.It is noteworthy that none of the four men who built the Central Pacific had any experience in railroad construction or management. However, Stanford, Huntington, and Hopkins all found positions in the enterprise doing work with which they were familiar to a certain degree. Charles Crocker autograph.Crocker, on the other hand, in his role of chief of construction, undertook a job for which he had no training along similar lines. That he ably filled the position and became a master of construction and handled thousands of men under him in extremely difficult conditions is a tribute to his native ability.

Charles Crocker was the son of Isaac and Eliza (Wright) Crocker, with a New England ancestry dating back to the seventeenth century. Isaac Crocker was a merchant of Troy, New York, and his wife was the daughter of a Massachusetts farmer. There in Troy, Charles Crocker was born on September 16, 1822, and he died at Monterey, California, August 14, 1888, at sixty-six years of age.

In 1836 the family moved to Marshall County, Indiana, where the boy worked as a farm hand, as sawyer, and as an apprentice in an iron forge. In 1845, when twenty-three years old, he discovered a deposit of iron ore and so, characteristically, he opened a forge under the firm name of Charles Crocker and Company. However, as with many of the thousands of young men of that time, the discovery of gold in California called to Crocker. He sold his iron works and with two younger brothers crossed the plains in 1849-1850 to the land of gold. He worked a while in the gold diggings, but in 1852 he had a store in Sacramento. In October of that year he returned to Indiana to marry Mary A. Deming, a union that was rewarded with three sons and one daughter.

By 1854, Crocker had prospered in his store to the extent that he was accounted a wealthy man. In 1855, he was named a member of the City Council, and in 1860, a member of the state legislature. Crocker, along with the other Associates, assisted in the organization of the Republican party and in the election of Lincoln, as they recognized the necessity of keeping California in the Union.

Crocker was one of the group that formed the Central Pacific Railroad Company, but when he took the first contract for building the line out of Sacramento he resigned from the directorate. When the plan of awarding contracts to a number of small contractors, as advocated by Judah, was found unworkable through the lack of laborers, Crocker himself took over and finished the work as far as Newcastle, California. From there to the state line, Crocker took the contract under the name of Charles Crocker and Company, but there is no doubt that the other three associates were silent partners. From the California state line to the junction with the Union Pacific in Utah, the work was done by the Contract and Finance Company, of which Crocker was president.

Worn out by his activity in building the railroad, Crocker in 1870 proposed to his associates that they buy him out. After a good deal of discussion, an agreement was reached in 187 1, whereupon Crocker took his family to Europe on a long trip. He had retained his stock interest in the railroad and had taken the notes of his Associates for the money due him. On his return from Europe in 1873, payment could not be made, for the panic was on, so Crocker came back into the organization. It may be assumed that he had recovered his health and, tired of travel and inaction, like many another American, wanted to get back to work.

From that time on, Crocker was active in construction work on the lines that later became the Southern Pacific. When the California and Oregon line was under way, an incident took place that showed his personality and influence on the men who worked with him. Strobridge, the superintendent of construction on the Central Pacific, had retired from active work and was living on his farm near Hayward in a pleasant California valley. Crocker went to see him and told him he had to come back to work. Strobridge resisted, but in vain, and soon the two men were together again building railroad as they had done over many years in the past.

Crocker's fortunes, like those of the other associates, grew with the income from the railroad. They all moved to San Francisco and built their palatial homes on Nob Hill, where Crocker was supposed to have spent $1,500,000 on his. He also had a house in New York. In the years that followed, Crocker was active in other developments, mainly real estate and irrigation projects. The Crocker - Huffman Company built the large irrigation system that in later years, long after Crocker's death, formed the basis of the Merced Irrigation District, one of the largest in California. He also established his sons in industry and in banking. When the railroad company built the Del Monte Hotel at Monterey, Crocker had charge of the work, spending much of his time there. In 1886, while on a visit to New York, he was thrown from his carriage and severely injured, but on his return to California he continued active. Increasing age and sickness overcame him at last, and in 1888 he died at the hotel in Monterey.

Charles Crocker's forte was his ability to organize the construction forces of the railroad to produce the best results. At one time lie had over 15,000 men under his command, spread over the mountains and working under harsh conditions of distance, snow blockades, granite cliffs, and, later, the heat and difficulties of the deserts. Crocker, who was always on the job and rarely saw his home in Sacramento, was a large, able man of cheerful disposition. There are many stories told of his violent temper and brutal treatment of his men, but they were usually exaggerated newspaper yarns. William Hood, who as a young man on the engineering force of the Central Pacific worked with Crocker, often spoke of Crocker's qualities:

I have never heard of Mr. Crocker reproving or speaking to anyone except in encouragement and in a manner to increase the man's self-respect and instill a desire to continue in his good opinion. He was able to convince those working under his direction that he believed they were doing their best, and they did it. Crocker, going among a large force of men, so enthused them with his spirit that, when he went away, instead of work slackening, it went on faster than ever.
However, Crocker left a record that indicated that he was very much a driver of men. Even so, there was little trouble, probably because of the employment of Chinese. One who worked under him referred to the absence of labor trouble in these words:

"Wherever Charlie Crocker was engaged, labor and capital were just like this," illustrated by locking both hands together, and it was some fist."

The fact remains that in the construction of the Central Pacific Crocker accomplished one of the greatest feats in the annals of construction. In a century noted for great works Charles Crocker was a great builder, and as such he should be remembered.


The fourth of the Associates was a quiet, retiring man, older than the others by eight to eleven years, whose life was neither spectacular nor positive. However, he was one of the adventurous throng who came to California in the Gold Rush and prospered there. He was forty-nine years of age when the Central Pacific was organized.

Mark Hopkins was born September 1, 1813, at Henderson, New York, the son of Mark and Anastasia Lukins (Kellogg) Hopkins of Puritan stock. His father was a merchant. The family moved to St. Claire, Michigan, and on the death of his father in 1828, the son left school to work as a clerk for several years. He also studied law in 1837 with his brother, Henry. His leaning, however was toward a commercial life, with the result that he formed several business partnerships. At Lockport, New York, he became the leading partner in the firm of Hopkins and Hughes. Later he became bookkeeper for the firm of James Rowland and Company, and in time, manager of the firm. When the Gold Rush started in 1849, Hopkins formed a company of twenty-six men, each of whom subscribed $500. Called the New England Trading and Mining Company, the company shipped a consignment of goods to California by way of Cape Horn. Hopkins accompanied the shipment and arrived in San Francisco on August 5, 1849.

Hopkins settled in Sacramento after trying a store at Placerville, and in 1850 he formed a partnership with a friend, E. H. Miller, Jr., who afterwards became secretary of the Central Pacific, the firm doing a wholesale grocery business. The business proved profitable, but in 1855 Hopkins entered a partnership with Collis P. Huntington in the hardware and iron business, a partnership that was terminated only by Hopkins' death in March, 1878. In the year 1882, this writer, as a telegraph boy, clad in a bright blue uniform with brass buttons, delivered messages to the firm of Huntington, Hopkins and Co.

When the Central Pacific Company was formed in 1861, Hopkins became treasurer, continuing in that position until his death. In 1854 he married his cousin, Mary Frances Sherwood, but there were no children from the marriage. A nephew, E. W. Hopkins, was of some assistance to his uncle, but Hopkins relied more upon a young man, Timothy Nolan, the son an an emigrant family whose father was dead. Timothy became known as Timothy Hopkins, and after Hopkins' death was adopted as a son by the widow. He also succeeded to the position of treasurer of the railroad company, and in later years was a member of the successor group that managed the railroad.

One side of Hopkins' character is shown by the trust that the other three associates reposed in him. Older than the others, to whom he became "Uncle Mark," his judgment was respected, and at times he could be firm in carrying out his ideas. Huntington trusted him in everything which is a trust that the vice president did not repose in many others. "I never thought anything finished until Hopkins looked at it," was his statement to Bancroft, the historian who referred to Hopkins as the "balance- wheel of the Associates and one of the truest and best men that ever lived."

Hopkins, always frugal and disliking display, finally yielded to his wife's entreaties and built an ornate mansion on Nob Hill in San Francisco, where Crocker and Stanford were building. However, his health was failing, and while on a trip to Arizona to recuperate, lie died. There was no will and a long series of lawsuits followed his death. His wife after many years married a young man, and with the exception of a partition with Timothy Hopkins, the estate, valued at $20,000,000, was no longer of great influence in railroad affairs.



The sudden death of Theodore Judah left the Central Pacific without a chief engineer until the time when his place was taken by one of the men who had worked under him on the surveys that he made. Evidently the choice was a good one, for Samuel Montague continued in that position during the construction of the line and for a number of years thereafter, first as acting chief engineer, and later as chief engineer.

Samuel Skerry Montague, the son of Richard and Content Montague, was born at Keene, New Hampshire, July 6, 1830. In 1836 the family, including another son, John, moved to Rockford, Illinois, where, like thousands of other families of that time, they engaged in farming the new land. He attended public school during the winter months and the Rockford Classical School.

Montague's first engineering employment came in 1852 when he was twenty-two years of age, on the Rock Island and Rockford Railroad. Later he was with the Peoria and Bureau Valley Railroad, then with the Rock Island and Peoria, and finally with the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad. It was on these lines that he gained such engineering education as he possessed when he went to work for the Central Pacific.

In 1859, Montague with three companions joined the rush to the Colorado gold mines, commonly called the "Pikes Peak or Bust" rush. They probably did not find any gold, for the party continued on to California, arriving in the fall of the year. At that time the railroad from Folsom to Marysville was under construction and Montague secured a position with that line, which was a continuation of the road from Sacramento to Folsom, built by Judah.

Apparently Montague became acquainted with Judah, for on February 12, 1862, he went to work for the Central Pacific, probably on the location surveys that Judah was making for the line over the Sierra Nevada. It is also evident that he gained the confidence of the men who were building the road, because when Judah died, Montague was made acting chief engineer, a position he filled with such success that on March 31, 1868, he was made chief engineer, the position he held until his death.

Evidence of the confidence he inspired may be seen in the cordial approval given the relocation of a part of the line by George Gray, the consulting engineer. Strobridge, the superintendent of construction, who took a slightly dim view of engineers generally, simply said that Montague "was a smart man but had not had much experience when he commenced on the Central Pacific."

Montague directed the extensive surveys across Nevada and Utah as far east as Green River, Wyoming, and had charge of all engineering until the line Was completed to Promontory in May, 1869. He continued as chief engineer of the Central Pacific during construction of numerous lines in California up to his death in 1883.

Montague was married in San Francisco on February 13, 1868 to Louisa Adams Redington, a sister of Charles H. Redington, long an official of the Southern Pacific Company. There were four children. The family home was in Oakland, California and when Samuel Montague died on September 24, 1883, it was there that he was buried.

Samuel Skerry Montague, CVD. Courtesy of the Mike Bentley Collection.
Samuel Skerry Montague, CVD. Courtesy of the Mike Bentley Collection.



In most big organizations there is an assistant upon Whom the chief relies to carry out plans. Such a man was Lewis Clement, practically assistant chief engineer during the location and construction of the Central Pacific.

Lewis M. Clement was born at Niagara in the province of Ontario, Canada, in August, 1837, and after a long and useful life, died at Hayward, California, October 29, 1914. He had married Charlotte Crysler on February 1, 1858, and she followed the wandering engineer, as many another wife did in those days.

Clement was educated at Jesuit College in Montreal, and at the age of twenty he was employed by the Montreal Waterworks. Additional engineering experience was gained on the Welland Canal and also on the Port Dover and Hamilton Railroad. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he was a telegraph operator at St. Louis, from which place he crossed the plains to California on a trip of 149 days, arriving in the fall of 1861.

In 1862, he joined the Central Pacific under Judah and was soon placed in charge of location of the road, on which he worked until its completion. When Judah died and Samuel S. Montague succeeded him, Clement continued as assistant chief engineer, his work then being on location up the western slope of the Sierra Nevada and down the eastern side to the Truckee River. One notable feature of his work was his location of the line around a steep mountain cliff called Cape Horn, some three miles from Colfax. Here the road is 1,200 feet above the American River.

It should be mentioned that the final location of a railroad is made only after a number of preliminary lines have been run and information obtained upon which trial locations are made, cost estimates prepared, and a final decision reached as to where the road is to be built. Such surveys had been made up the mountains by Judah, and the general route determined. After his death more complete examinations were made by additional surveys, and in some important cases material changes were made. Such work was done by Clement, working under Montague, and the line was located where the road was built as it exists today. The revised location was examined by Mr. Gray, who had been appointed consulting engineer for the railroad, and Gray speaks in very complimentary terms of the location, which covered the road from Dutch Flat to the summit of the mountains, a distance of some forty miles of extremely difficult construction.

Clement continued on the location across Nevada and Utah, and in several letters Stanford, working from Salt Lake, mentions the work done by "Clem" over the Promontory Mountains. He was active in operation and devised the system by which the road was patrolled through thirty-seven miles of snow sheds from Blue Canyon to Truckee. He also designed the emigrant sleeping cars that were built at the Sacramento shops. Looking back on those cars, from personal experience this writer cannot regard them as perfection; however, they served the purpose.

Clement remained with the railroad for many years. His position as assistant chief engineer is shown by a circular letter sent by Montague to engineers in charge and assistant engineers, dated August 18, 1869, which reads: "Hereafter and until further instructions, communications to the Chief Engineer's office will be addressed to Mr. L. M. Clement who is authorized to issue instructions and transact business of the engineer department in my absence."

In 1879 Clement's name appeared as superintendent of track, but in 1881 he left the Southern Pacific organization and for two years acted as engineer on the California Division of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad of the Santa Fe System. Returning to San Francisco, Clement spent several years building street-car systems operated by cable and also helped build two electric street-car systems in San Francisco and Oakland.

In his later years he was frequently consulted by railroad people and was of special assistance to Stanford in erecting the buildings for the new university. Mr. Clement was a man of wide culture, and in addition to being a Mason he was a member of numerous learned societies both in this country and abroad.


Oil painting of James Harvey Strobridge, age 60, painted by Thomas Hill c. 1881. Courtesy James Barkley and G.J. Graves.Strobridge, or "Stro," as he was called, was the kind of a man whose ability to command other men brings them to the front in any situation where initiative, willingness to take responsibility, and determination to press forward under adverse conditions are demanded. Strobridge was superintendent of construction during the building of the Central Pacific and, Under Crocker, his was the driving force that put the road through.

Of American ancestry, Strobridge was born on a farm in Vermont, April 21, 1827, and he died at his home near Hayward, California. Early in life he engaged in railroad construction, but catching the gold fever, he came to California by way of Cape Horn, landing in San Francisco in July, 1849. He tried gold mining for a time with a partner, E. M. Pitcher, engaged in teaming to the mines, tried farming, and then conducted a hotel. Like many other men, Strobridge drifted from one venture to another and it was while employed as foreman of an hydraulic mine that he came to the notice of Charles Crocker, who employed him in the early construction work on the Central Pacific. For five years he had charge of construction, in which time Crocker came to rely upon him in everything. Strobridge, who lived with his wife in a box car along the line, but was everywhere on the road, gained the reputation of being a hard-driving, taskmaster, ruthless in his treatment of men, especially of the Chinese. He was opposed to their employment at first, but soon recognized their many valuable traits and at one time had as many as 15,000 under his charge. Many stories have been told about his character and, as is usual, they have lost nothing in the telling.

Mr. W. B. Storey, who for many years engaged in railroad work in California and was a Iong-time president of the Santa Fe Railroad, gave the author of this book his impressions of Strobridge.

In accordance with your request I am giving you my recollections of J. H. Strobridge, Superintendent of Construction during the building of the Central Pacific and later of the Southern Pacific and other subsidiaries of the Central.

I first became acquainted with Mr. Strobridge about 1883 when work was begun on the extension into Oregon, north of Redding. . . . Mr. Strobridge was in complete charge of all grading and track-laying forces. Incidentally, I might mention that Mr. Arthur Brown was in charge of all timber and bridge work and his duty was done so as not to cause delay to the grading and track laying.

The outfit that began working at Redding had just finished building the line from Mohave to Needles, and previous to that had completed the Southern Pacific to a connection with the Galveston, Harrisburg, and San Antonio in Texas, this connection giving the Southern Pacific access to Galveston.

We of the Central Pacific engineers had heard of the forcefulness of Strobridge and the arbitrariness of his methods, neither he nor his men taking any orders from the engineers, and the only function of the latter being to give grades and centers and to cross section. I found, however, upon coming in contact with Strobridge, that he was an able organizer and a most competent executive.

The following which I learned of his record with the Central Pacific may be of interest. Shortly after work was started, Mr. Crocker, the member of the Big Four who was given charge of construction, in conversation with a friend of his who was engaged in hydraulic mining in the mountains, mentioned the fact that he needed a superintendent to handle the work and asked if the friend knew anyone who was competent to handle that job. The friend said he had a foreman in his employ that he felt sure would fill the bill and named Strobridge, who was employed and soon showed his ability as a driving force in the very difficult construction over the mountains, including heavy cuts and fills, tunnels, granite rock, snow of great depths, labor, keeping supplies going to the front, building wagon roads to reach the heavy work ahead, and the innumerable things necessary in this task which was of unprecedented magnitude. He has told me of problems he met and how they were solved. lie was particularly proud of the way in which the Union Pacific was circumvented in its plan to reach the eastern base of the Sierras. That company did not get started building from Omaha until months after the Central started at Sacramento, but hoped to cover all the relatively easy country while the Central was getting over the mountains. A representative was sent to California to size up the situation. He inspected the work already (lone, saw all the difficulties and decided that the summit tunnel alone would take three years to complete. As soon as he was gone, Strobridge transferred forces to the cast side, graded down the Truckee Canyon, hauled rail, cars, and a locomotive over the divide and laid forty miles of track, sank a shaft on the tunnel so as to work from four faces, finished the tunnel in one year instead of three, and was ready to rush the construction across Nevada, thus enabling the Central to get its share of the easy work.

Another thing in which he took satisfaction was the laying of ten miles of rail in one day. The rival railroad gangs had made successively larger records until the Union Pacific made an unusually large one and that record was apparently to be allowed to stand. Mr. Crocker asked Strobridge if he was beaten. The latter answered that while he felt he could exceed what was done he was willing to let the Union Pacific record stand, as he could see no good to be gained and the cost would be heavy. Mr. Crocker expressed the wish to have the attempt made. Accordingly Strobridge made his arrangements and actually laid ten and a quarter miles of rail in one day and ran a locomotive over the track. This was done, however, when the ends of the track were so close together that the other side had no opportunity even to attempt to do better. That record stands, so far as I know, the best that has ever been made. The rail was fifty-four pounds and one set of men handled the entire amount laid that day. Mr. Strobridge told me that he had provided a second gang to relieve the first at noon, but when the relief gang came, the first refused to quit and carried on for the entire day.

The roads were connected in May, 1869, and Mr. Strobridge then settled on a farm near Hayward, California. Subsequent construction for a number of years was carried on by the subsidiary construction company with some small extensions handled by contract. The main piece of work was the building of the Southern Pacific over the Tehachapi Mountain to Los Angeles and its extension to the Colorado River at Yuma, which was reached, if memory serves me, about 1877. Mr. Crocker then sent for Strobridge, said he was not satisfied with the way the work was being handled and asked him again to take charge of construction and name his own terms. Mr. Strobridge consented, but stipulated that he would not live on the work, as he had on the Central Pacific, that he would organize the work and visit it as often as he felt necessary and named what he considered a high salary in those days. He pushed the Southern Pacific through to a connection with the G. H. & S. A. near Devil River, Texas, then built the Mohave-Needles line, and began, in 1883, the line up the Sacramento Canyon, where I first met him.

His organization consisted of a superintendent who represented him in everything when he was not on the line, several assistant superintendents called Riding Bosses, a wagon master who had charge of all teams and the forwarding of all supplies, a track-laying foreman, a work train outfit, and a clerk. The grading forces were entirely Chinese in gangs of about fifty-five with a white foreman, generally Irish.

He worked on the Oregon line for about a year and completed the track to a station called Delta. We were then transferred to construction work in Lang Canyon near Los Angeles. Mr. Strobridge had charge of this and of all construction for a number of years, up to, I should say, about 1889. He then continued to live on his farm and after 1889 took no active part in construction matters.

Mr. Strobridge was extremely energetic, forceful, very profane, and had a biting tongue. Nearly all who worked for him were afraid of him, but I always believed that the violent temper he sometimes showed and his bitter remarks at such times were assumed for the effect on his hearers. I know that his neighbors at Hayward always considered him a mild man and expressed surprise when told what a wild man he was counted to be on the railroad work. He was particularly hostile to saloons and liquor-selling near the work. I am told that on the construction of the Southern Pacific through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas he usually had a United States marshal on the payroll, and if a saloon tried to open near the front the keeper would be arrested because his license was not ready, taken to some court a long distance away, and his stock of liquor would be destroyed by parties unknown.

 I called upon him about 1897 and found him well and hearty, although nearly blind. He had lost one eye in his early construction work by going into a cut before all the blast charges had gone off and a delayed explosion destroyed an eye. He lived many years after my visit, but that was the last time I saw him.

Mr. Strobridge was a wonderful specimen of a man and I admired him greatly. I counted myself fortunate in knowing him and always regarded him as a friend.  The letter from Mr. Storey has been quoted in full, as it gives a good picture of the type of man, who, in command of a large organization, drove the pioneer railroad across mountains and deserts to a connection with the Union Pacific.


Owing to the special nature of railroad bridges, and to a certain extent railroad buildings of various kinds, it is customary to place one man in charge of these structures. To him is delegated the preparation of plans and also the supervision of construction in the field. On the Central Pacific, Arthur Brown occupied that position during the building of the major portion of the line, so that when the unusual problem of the snow sheds in the higher reaches of the Sierra Nevada was encountered, it was he, as superintendent of bridges and buildings, who designed and superintended the work.

Arthur Brown Was born at the village of Kentore near Aberdeen in Scotland, in 1830. Like many another of that wandering race, lie was brought to Canada as a child by his Widowed mother. There he lived at Ottawa with his family, securing such primary education as Was then available.

When a young man, lie Was engaged with an uncle, Alexander Christie, in railroad construction of bridges and culverts. Coming west with his uncle to the Fraser River country, young Brown took a contract for a pier at Victoria, British Columbia. Then in 1864 he journeyed south to California, and in 1865 obtained work on the Central Pacific under Strobridge, with whom he remained one month. He was then placed in charge of bridges and buildings, continuing in that position until the road Was completed. One of his most noteworthy achievements was his rebuilding of the bridge over the American River forty hours after it was burned.

Brown remained with the railroad and its successor organizations until the early 1890's, during which time a large portion of the Southern Pacific System was built. In addition to being responsible for buildings and bridges, he was called upon to construct the elaborate mansions of Stanford and Crocker on Nob Hill in San Francisco, as well as the original Del Monte Hotel at Monterey.

Arthur Brown was married to Victoria Runyon in 1870. He died on March 7, 1917, at the age of eighty-seven years, having long outlived most of the men with Whom he Was associated in the building of the Central Pacific Railroad.


It often happens in engineering construction that outside advice is sought by those in charge of the work. Such advice is usually of great assistance, not only to the owners, but also to the engineers in charge. It Was the need for service of this kind that led to the employment of George E. Gray on the Central Pacific.

Gray was born at Verona, New York, on September 12, 1818, and after years of retirement, died at the advanced age of ninety-four in Berkeley, California, on January 1, 1913. He studied civil engineering under Pelatiah Rawson, a pioneer in the profession in this country. He was employed as resident engineer on the Black River Canal, New York, at two different periods, and once on the Erie Canal. He was also employed as assistant engineer on the New York and Harlem Railroad, was appointed chief engineer of the Utica and Schenectady and the Mohawk Valley Railroads in 1852, and in 1853 was made chief engineer when those roads were consolidated into the New York Central System., In that capacity lie built the first wrought-iron bridge, and from 1860 to 1865 lie acted as chief engineer of the Hudson River Bridge at Albany.

Portrait of CPRR Assistant Engineer, Alonzo Russell Guppy, 1870. It was in a letter of July 10, 1865, that Stanford requested Gray to "make a thorough and careful examination and inspection of work already completed and the line as located." This referred to the changed line from Dutch Flat as located by Montague. Gray's comment was fair and approved the changes proposed. From that time on, Gray retained the position of consulting engineer on the Central Pacific to its completion. He also held the post of chief engineer of the Southern Pacific after the consolidation of October 12, 1870, for fourteen years, until he retired in 1885. It was under his direction that a large portion of the Southern Pacific System was built. After retiring from the railroad, he engaged in consulting service.

The preceding pages have given sketches of the men who directed the construction of the Central Pacific. Immediately behind them were a number of men who occupied responsible positions and to whom were delegated certain powers, the exercise of which was an important factor in forwarding the work.

In the executive branch of the firm, there appeared the name of E. H. Miller, Jr., one-time partner of Mark Hopkins in Sacramento, who was made secretary of the company in 1864, following James Bailey. Miller held that position during the construction period and for many years afterward. Mr. Edwin B. Crocker, brother of Charles Crocker and for many years attorney for the company, was also designated as general agent, positions which he held up to the time of his death. A. P. Stanford, brother of Leland Stanford, appears among the list of' directors during the years of construction. The operating force of the railroad was built up slowly, since most of the traffic over the completed portion of the line came from material being sent to the end of the track. Out of the men who were employed, there grew an organization for the operation of the railroad after it was completed.

The engineering forces formed a notable group, as they were in the forefront of the preliminary surveys as well as in charge of work during construction. B. F. Leete was a friend and associate of Judah in the earlier work. Montague had three men, Ives, Eppler, and Buck, in charge of the preliminary surveys made through Nevada and into Utah and Wyoming.

Among the names of assistant engineers on construction are found those of [Alonzo Russll] Guppy [portrait above, right], Phelps, Bates, Finley, Eaton, and [Henry] Root. Charles Cadwallader acted as chief engineer for the Contract and Finance Company, and J. M. Graham was his principal assistant from Cisco to Promontory. William Hood, later chief engineer of the Southern Pacific Company, was employed as a young man on the survey parties. When the road was completed, most of these names disappeared from the rolls of the Central Pacific.

Text courtesy Cathy Murphy, Barnes and Noble, Inc. (formerly Dorset Press).
Portrait engravings courtesy Terry Cox.
Crocker autograph courtesy Mariners' Museum Archives, Collis Huntington Papers, Newport News, VA.
CPRR Assistant Engineer A.R. Guppy portrait, courtesy John E. Charles Collection.

Find an available copy of this book.

[Note:  Ronald Galloway Schaumburg, great-grandson of the author, John Debo Galloway, explains that the posthumous publication of 1950 was the first edition.  Galloway died in 1943; the work was completed by his daughter, Bertha Galloway Foster.  The book appeared in a reprint edition in 1989. This is the book chapter about the big four and other important people of the Central Pacific Railroad, the western portion of the first transcontinental railroad.]

> Richard L. Wiltshire writes that this book The First Transcontinental Railroad (1950), which was actually finished by his daughter [Bertha Galloway Foster] (my grandmother) after Mr. Galloway's death in 1943. ... Her B.S. degree from U.C. Berkeley in 1917 was in Geology. ... I have the background material, including the correspondence between my grandmother and the publisher/editor, Simmons-Boardman, from her work with the book's editor. They cut about one-third out of the book to keep it at a $5.00 price. Nonetheless, it was quite an amazing effort on my grandmother's part to finish the work on the book started by her father. Mr. Galloway's first job after graduating from Rose Polytechnic (now Rose-Hulman) University in 1889 was working as a civil engineer and surveyor on a small railroad in northwestern Washington; hence, his lasting interest in railroads. The book's Preface was written by Walter L. Huber, then a San Francisco Consulting Civil Engineer, who was President of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 1953. You may be interested to know that there is a collection of Mr. Galloway's reports and papers as a California consulting (civil) engineer, dealing mostly with water resources projects, located at the Water Resources Center Archives at the University of California, Berkeley.

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