REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE
ON THE PACIFIC RAILROAD AND TELEGRAPH.
[Including a Minority Report &
Proposed Pacific Railroad Acts]
34th Congress, 1st Session
PACIFIC RAILROAD AND TELEGRAPH.
AUGUST 16, 1856
Mr. DENVER, from the Select Committee, submitted the following
The Select Committee to which was referred the bill to provide for the establishment of railroad and telegraphic communication between the Atlantic States and the Pacific ocean, and for other purposes, beg leave to make the following report:
The necessity that exists for constructing lines of railroad and telegraphic communication between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of this continent is no longer a question for argument; it is conceded by every one. In order to maintain our present position on the Pacific, we must have some more speedy and direct means of intercourse than is at present afforded by the route through the possessions of a foreign power.
The importance of our Pacific possessions is felt in every pursuit and in every relation of life. The gold of California has furnished the merchant and trader with a capital by which enterprises have been undertaken and accomplished which were before deemed impracticable. Our commercial marine has been nearly doubled since 1848; internal improvements have been pushed forward with astonishing rapidity; the value of every kind of property has been doubled; and the evidences of prosperity and thrift are everywhere to be seen. The security and protection of that country, from whence have emanated nearly all these satisfactory results, is of the greatest importance; and that can be accomplished only by direct and easy communications through our own territories. Railroads will effect this. At present, we are forced to resort to a very circuitous route by sea, through the tropics and across the continent, at the most sickly point in the torrid zone. Should a war break out between our country and any other maritime nation, or should a difficulty arise with one of the petty Spanish-American States through which these routes lie, our communications would be interrupted, and the unity of our confederacy actually broken up.
Looking to these facts alone to secure the construction of these lines of communication, has given to them such an importance as never attached to any work of internal improvements since the time when, during President Jefferson's administration, it was thought necessary to connect the States lying on the Atlantic seaboard with the States lying in the valley of the Mississippi, by means of roads across the Allegheny mountains. Insignificant as such an undertaking as the building of a wagon road across the Alleghenies may appear now, the proposition was then deemed exceedingly difficult and occupied quite as much of the public attention as the Pacific railroad does at the present time. The States were then separated only by the mountain range of the Alleghenies, but the western Country was so remote and access to it so difficult, that the construction of a road was considered absolutely necessary, and sufficient to authorize the earnest attention of Congress.
The people of the western frontier were at that time exposed to frequent incursions of the Indians. The country was exceedingly fertile, but the markets were so distant that the productions were an encumbrance rather than a profit to the farmer, and vast tracts of rich agricultural lands were suffered to remain an unbroken waste. The action of the government attracted public attention, and awakened private enterprise. Canals were projected, and then followed railroads, until every part of that country, which was but a few years ago called the "far west," has been brought within three or four days' communication with the cities on the seaboard, giving a new impulse to commerce, increasing the value of property, and relieving the frontiers from all the dangers of a hostile foe.
No better example can be given of the benefits resulting from the construction of railroads, to both public and private property, than that of the Illinois Central railroad. On the line of that road the public lands had been offered for sale many years without finding a purchaser, and were at last reduced to the lowest minimum price, twelve and a half cents per acre. Even this reduction was not sufficient to induce their sale; but after the government had given away one-half to assist in building the road, the other half was very readily sold for two dollars and fifty cents per acre. Similar results have followed the building of nearly every other railroad in the country, although in many instances, as in this, the roads came in direct competition with river and canal transportation.
A railroad across the continent would open up a vast extent of country to settlement, and much of what is now believed to be sterile and barren will, no doubt, (as in California) be found to yield bountifully to the agriculturist.
These lands are now totally without value, no matter how fertile they may be, and to the government worthless. By giving away one half for the construction of the proposed roads, the government will thereby attach a value to the remainder; and whatever that value may be, will be the amount the government is gainer by the transaction. Your committee have not thought proper to step aside from the long established system of the government in granting lands only to aid in the construction of the roads under consideration, except incidentally, in the payment for transportation of, troops, munitions of war, &c., and for carrying the mails; at the same time they have endeavored to extend to every portion of the country an equal share of the benefits to be derived from it. Every part of the country, extending from Lake Superior to the Gulf of Mexico, is brought in direct contact with one or the other of the proposed roads, and from the western frontiers of the States lying west of the Mississippi, connexions are easily made with roads already completed to the cities on the Atlantic seaboard.
By thus combining all the great interests of the country, an effort has been made to allay sectional jealousies and to bind together more firmly every part of the country. The policy of granting lands, or the proceeds of the sales thereof, for the purposes of internal improvements, and to increase the value of the public property, was early adopted by our government. By the act of April 30, 1802, one twentieth of the net proceeds of the sales of the public lands lying within the State of Ohio was set apart to "be applied to the laying out and making public roads, leading from the navigable waters emptying into the Atlantic to the Ohio, to the said State and through the same; such roads to be laid out under the authority of Congress, with the consent of the several States through which the road shall pass." By the act of May 1, 1802, it is provided "that it shall and may be lawful for the Secretary of the Treasury to cause to be viewed, marked, and opened, such roads within the territory northwest of the Ohio, as, in his opinion, may best serve to promote the sales of the public lands in future."
Both these acts were approved by Mr. Jefferson, and form the basis on which all similar acts have been predicated. Every Executive since that time approved of similar acts, and the only change made was in the manner of making the grant, the lands having been given instead of the net proceeds of the sales thereof. The plan thus proposed precludes the necessity of entering into an estimate of the expense to be incurred in constructing any of the proposed roads. Nor does it matter how many roads are thus authorized to be constructed. If built, they will open up a vast extent of country to settlement, and thus the government and the people will be mutually benefited. If the roads should not be built within the time specified, the lands revert to the government, and the parties take nothing by the grant. Nothing is given without a corresponding benefit is to accrue.
As a means of military defence, the Secretary of War, in his last annual report, has placed this measure in such a strong point of view that your committee have thought proper to make the following extract. Alluding to our Pacific possessions, he says: "This territory is not more remote from the principal European States than from those parts of our own country whence it would derive its military supplies; and some of those States have colonies and possessions on the Pacific which would greatly facilitate their operations against it. With these advantages and those which the attacking force always has, of choice of time and place, an enemy possessing a considerable military marine could, with comparatively little cost to himself, subject us to enormous expenses in giving to our Pacific frontier that protection which it is the duty of the general government to afford.
“In the first years of a war with an great maritime power, the communication by sea could not be relied upon for the transportation of supplies from the Atlantic to the Pacific States. Our naval peace establishment would not furnish adequate convoys for the number of storeships which it would be necessary to employ, and storeships alone, laden with supplies, could not undertake a voyage of twenty thousand miles, passing numerous neutral ports, where an enemy's armed vessels, even of the smallest size, might lie in wait to intercept them. The only line of communication, then, would be overland; and by this it would be impracticable, with any means heretofore used, to furnish the amount of supplies required for the defence of the Pacific frontier. At the present prices, over the best part of this route, the expense of land transportation alone, for the annual supplies of provisions, clothing, camp-equipage, and ammunition for such an army as it would be necessary to maintain there, would exceed $20,000,000 and to maintain troops, and carry on defensive operations under those circumstances, the expense per man would be six times greater than it is now. The land transportation of each field twelve-pounder, with a due supply of ammunition for one year, would cost $2,500; of each twenty-four pounder and ammunition, $9,000; and of a sea-coast gun and ammunition, $12,000. The transportation of ammunition for a year for 1,000 sea-coast guns, would cost $10,000,000. But the expense of transportation would be vastly increased by a war, and, at the rates paid on the same articles during the last war with Great Britain, the above estimates would be trebled. The time required for the overland journey would be from four to six months. In point of fact, however, supplies for such an army could not be transported across the continent. On the arid and barren belts to be crossed, the limited quantities of water and grass would soon be exhausted by the numerous draught animals required for heavy trains, and over such distances forage could not be carried for their subsistence. On the other hand the enemy would send out his supplies at from one-seventh to one-twentieth the above rates, and in less time – perhaps in one fourth the time – if he should obtain command of the isthmus routes.
"Any reliance, therefore, upon furnishing that part of our frontier with means of defence from the Atlantic and interior States, after the commencement of hostilities, would be vain, and the next resource would be to accumulate there such amount of stores and supplies as would suffice during the continuance of the contest, or until we could obtain command of the sea. Assigning but a moderate limit to this period, the expense would yet be enormous. The fortifications, depots, and storehouses, would necessarily be on the largest scale, and the cost of placing supplies there for five years would amount to nearly one hundred millions of dollars. In many respects the cost during peace would be equivalent to that during war.
"The perishable character of many articles would render it perhaps impracticable to put provisions in depot for such a length of time; and, in any case, there would be deterioration amounting to some millions of dollars per year.
"These considerations, and others of a strictly military character, cause the department to examine with interest all projects promising the accomplishment of a railroad communication between the navigable waters of the Mississippi and those of the Pacific ocean. As military operations depend in a greater degree upon rapidity and certainty of movement than upon any other circumstance, the introduction of railway transportation has greatly improved the means of defending our Atlantic and inland frontiers; and to give us a sense of security from attack upon the most exposed portion of our territory, it is requisite that the facility of railroad transportation should be extended to the Pacific coast.
"Were such a road completed, our Pacific coast, instead of being further removed in time, and less accessible to us than to an enemy, would be brought within a few days of easy communication, and the cost of supplying an army there, instead of being many times greater to us than to him, would be about equal. We would be relieved of the necessity of accumulating large supplies on that coast to waste, perhaps through long years of peace; and we could feel entire confidence that, let war come when and with whom it may, before a hostile expedition could reach that exposed frontier, an ample force could be placed there to repel any attempt at invasion.
"From the results of the surveys authorized by Congress, we derive, at least, the assurance that the work is practicable; and may dismiss the apprehensions which, previously, we could not but entertain as to the possibility of defending our Pacific territory through a long war with a powerful maritime enemy.
"The judgment which may be formed as to the prospect of its completion, must control our future plans for the military defence of that frontier; and any plan for the purpose which should leave that consideration out of view, would be as imperfect as if it should disregard all those other resources with which commerce and art aid the operations of armies.
"Whether we shall depend on private capital and enterprise alone for the early establishment of railroad communication, or shall promote its construction by such aid as the general government may constitutionally give; whether we shall rely on the continuance of peace until the increase of the population and resources of the Pacific States shall render them independent of aid from those of the Atlantic slope and Mississippi valley; or whether we shall adopt the extensive system of defence above referred to, are questions of public policy which belongs to Congress to decide.
"Beyond the direct employment of such a road for military purposes, it has other relations to all the great interests of our confederacy, political, commercial, and social, the prosperity of which essentially contributes to the common defence. Of these it is not my purpose to treat, further than to point to the additional resources which it would develop, and the increase of population which must attend upon giving such facility of communication to a country so tempting to enterprise, much of which, having most valuable products, is beyond the reach of market."
[See also the 1854 Report of the Secretary of War.]
Some of the considerations which bear upon the questions submitted to the committee, have thus been briefly suggested. But we do not deem it necessary to enter upon an extended argument to show either the constitutional power of Congress to aid the construction of the proposed roads, or its duty to exercise that power. The public mind has already formed its judgment on both these points. The public press, popular assemblies, and legislative resolutions have spoken with a concurring voice; and recent representative conventions of the Democratic party at Cincinnati, and the Republican party at Philadelphia have, with most remarkable unanimity and emphasis, declared the will of the people on this subject in resolutions intended for our instruction. [See also the 1860 Platform of the Republican Party.] The committee have deemed it their duty to give effect to this general wish, and have examined with much care the various plans which have from time to time been proposed.
They have thought proper to change the provisions of the bill referred to them very materially preferring to make the grants directly to companies whose interests and well established ability give assurance that they will press the work forward to completion at the earliest day possible.
They therefore report the following bill, and recommend its adoption.
A BILL to provide for the establishment of railroad and telegraphic communication between the Atlantic States and Pacific ocean, and for other purposes.
SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That for the purpose of aiding in the construction of a railroad and telegraphic communication from the western boundaries of Missouri and Iowa, north of the thirty-eighth and south of the forty-fourth degrees of north latitude, to some point on the navigable waters of the Pacific ocean, in the State of California, the railroad companies herein named, and their associates, successors, and assigns, that is to say, the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad Company, and the Pacific Railroad Company, of the State of Missouri; and the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad Company; the Philadelphia, Fort Wayne and Platte Valley Railroad Company; the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad Company; the Iowa Central Air-line Railroad Company; the Dubuque and Pacific Railroad Company; and the North Iowa Railroad Company, of the State of Iowa, and their associates, successors, and assigns are hereby authorized to extend their said several roads from their western termini westwardly, through the territories of the United States, so as to form a junction with each other at some point near Fort Kearney, and not south of the same, or at such point as, after actual survey, may be agreed upon by all the parties constructing their several roads to said junction; and from the place of said junction they may conjointly extend a line westward to the eastern boundary of the State of California, and from thence, with the consent of the legislature of said State, to some point to be by them selected on the navigable waters of the Pacific ocean, and also connect by means of a branch railroad with the cities of Marysville, Sacramento, Stockton, and San José; and, to enable them to construct, the same, together with a telegraphic line along each, there shall be, and hereby is, granted to each one of said railroad companies the right of way for one hundred feet in width along the entire line of each of said railroads (with land sufficient for all necessary sites for depots, watering places, and workshops) to the point of junction at Fort Kearney; and every alternate section of land designated on the maps of the survey of the public lands (when made) by uneven numbers, for six sections in width on each side of said roads, for the entire length from their present western termini to said place of junction, to be held and conveyed as herein provided; and in all cases where the United States shall have disposed of any such lands, or shall from any cause be unable to convey a title thereto, the deficiency may be made up from the nearest vacant lands in like manner, by alternate sections, by the party or parties entitled thereto, from any unoccupied and unappropriated public lands belonging to the United States within the territories north of thirty-eight and south of forty-four degrees of north latitude; and from the place of said junction there is hereby granted to said companies, their associates, successors, and assigns, or to such of them as shall, within one year from the passage of this act, by an agreement in writing properly executed between them, and filed in the Department of the Interior, associate for the construction of said road westward to the navigable waters of the Pacific ocean, in the State of California, and the branch to San José, every alternate section of land designated on the maps of the survey, when made, by uneven numbers, for thirty sections in width on each side of the length of said road, commencing at the point of junction aforesaid, and extending to a point two hundred miles west of the same, and thence in like manner forty alternate sections in width on each side of said road to the western base of the Sierra Nevada range, and thence through the State of California, in like manner, six alternate sections of land per each mile of railroad, including the branch aforesaid, which lands may, at the request of the parties hereinbefore mentioned, be withdrawn from sale or entry, and if required so to be, shall be surveyed under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, and be held and conveyed as herein provided; and in all cases where the United States may have disposed of any such lands, or shall from any cause be unable to convey a title thereto, or when such lands shall be condemned by the United States surveyors as unfit to be surveyed, the deficiency may be made up in like manner by alternate sections, by the party or parties entitled thereto, from the nearest unoccupied and unappropriated. public lands belonging to the United States north of the thirty-eighth degree of north latitude: Provided, however, That for such deficiency the State of California, and also in lieu of all mineral lands in said State, (which are excepted from the grant herein made,) such selection may be made from any unoccupied and unappropriated lands of the United States, within the said State of California, lying north of the thirty-seventh degree of north latitude; but the grant of lands herein made to the State of California shall in no wise impair the right of the State of California, first to select such lands as said State is entitled to, and said selections to be made in accordance with the provisions of existing laws: And provided further, That the title to said lands shall vest in the parties aforesaid only as such roads shall be constructed, and no patent shall issue for said land except as each fifty miles of said roads shall be completed: And provided further, That any of the said companies which shall fail to construct fifty miles of road west of the Missouri river within three years from the passage of this act shall not be entitled to any of the lands, but the lands thus forfeited shall be divided equally among the companies which shall within said time complete said length of road not to exceed six additional sections per mile to each of, said roads. And to, aid in the construction of a railroad from the city of Sacramento to the city of Benicia, a grant of public lands to the State of California, of the same amount per mile as is granted to aid in building a branch railroad to San José, is hereby made for the use of the San Francisco and Sacramento Railroad Company, upon the like conditions and limitations, and upon the further condition that the railroad shall be completed on or before the first day of January, eighteen hundred and sixty: And provided further, That if the said Hannibal and St. Joseph and the Pacific Railroad Companies, of the State of Missouri, and the said Iowa Central Air-line, the Dubuque and Pacific, and the North Iowa Railroad Companies, of the State of Iowa, or either of, them, instead of forming a junction with other roads at or near Fort Kearney, as before provided, shall desire to extend their respective roads, or if any two or more of them shall unite and conjointly extend one line of road on either side of said route, for the purpose of intersection with the road from Fort Kearney to the Pacific ocean, at some point further west than said Fort Kearney, they are hereby authorized so to do; and the same grant of lands per mile (that is to say, six alternate sections per mile) shall be extended to them respectively or conjointly, for each mile of railroad by them actually built, in the same manner as is provided in case of a junction at or near Fort Kearney. And provided further, That the extent of interest which each of the aforesaid companies shall require in the grant of lands herein made for the construction of a railroad and line of telegraph from Fort Kearney westward, to the western termini, by complying with the conditions contained in this act, as also the interest they shall thereby obtain in the construction of said lines from. Fort Kearney westward, shall be in proportion to the amount of money each company shall actually pay in for the construction of such line or lines of railroad and telegraph.
SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That the government of the United States shall at all times have the preference in the use of said roads and of all other roads provided for in this act, for transportation purposes, and also in the use of said lines of telegraph; and, as compensation for such uses, that is to say, for the use of such railroads for postal, military, and all other government purposes, and for the use of said telegraph as well in time of war as of peace, the United States shall pay to the said parties, proprietors of said roads, a sum not to exceed five hundred dollars per mile per annum (unless otherwise provided by Congress) for the period of ten years from and after the entire completion of said roads, or at that rate for any portion of the same, should the government wish to use any part of said road before the whole line shall be completed; but should the government transportation and business on said roads be so great as, at the customary rates of charges on said roads, to exceed in value fifty per cent. of the sum proposed per annum, estimating the mail service at three hundred dollars a mile annually, then the government will pay for such extra service an additional compensation to be fixed by Congress; but in this allowance the several railroads projected and herein named, till completed to the point of junction, shall be considered as one line of road and telegraph, and the payment to each shall be in proportion to the amount of work which such road shall do, the payment for mail matter to be equally divided between them; but should any of them fail, neglect, or refuse to unite, then the whole amount shall, in like manner, be paid to the remaining company or companies which shall construct the road as herein directed: Provided, however, That the government shall be forever entitled to the use of said roads and telegraph lines for the purposes herein designated, and at a rate of compensation not greater than that heretofore specified, unless otherwise provided by Congress: And provided further, That all the land hereby granted for right of way and the purposes of depots, watering places, and work-shops, shall be exempt from taxation in the Territories while they may remain such.
SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That, if the parties shall fail to build the railroads and telegraph lines hereinbefore provided for, within the period of ten years from the date of the location and establishment of the line, which location shall be made within three, years from the passage of this act, or shall substantially fail, neglect, or refuse to prosecute the work undertaken by said parties in a manner to secure the completion thereof in the time stipulated, or should such parties violate the terms herein prescribed, then all the rights of the said parties to the uncompleted part of said road or right of way, the property thereto belonging, and the lands not patented, shall be forfeited, and the United States may and shall enter upon and possess the same. In the event of such forfeiture, to be determined by the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Postmaster General, the said Secretaries and Postmaster General shall proceed to re-let the said roads and lines uncompleted under such forfeited contract, in such manner as, in their opinion, will secure their earliest completion; and for this purpose they are authorized to transfer everything thus forfeited, to said subsequent contracting, parties; the United States to pay nothing more than is hereinbefore appropriated. and reserving all the rights and privileges hereinbefore specified.
SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That all grants and contracts made in pursuance of this act for the construction and keeping up of said railroad and telegraphic lines are, and shall be, made on the express condition that said lines of railroad and telegraph shall be constructed in a substantial, thorough, and workmanlike manner, with all necessary drains, culverts, bridges, viaducts, crossings, turnouts, sidings, watering-places, and all other appurtenances, including the furniture of the road, equal in all respects to a road of the first class, when prepared for business, with rails of the best quality, weighing not less than sixty pounds to the yard, and of a uniform gauge; and shall also provide for and require a telegraph line with each road, of the most approved and substantial description.
SEC, 5. And be it further enacted, That there shall be, and hereby are, granted to the States of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri, severally, ten alternate sections of land per each mile of railroad, and on each side thereof, to aid in the construction of railroads and telegraph lines from New Orleans, via Opelousas, to Shrevesport; from Vicksburg, via Shrevesport, to the west boundary-line of Louisiana; and from the Iron mountains, in Missouri, via Little Rock, to Shrevesport, and to the railroads running westwardly from Cairo, Memphis, and Gaines' Landing, deducting so many acres therefrom as may have been granted heretofore for any part of any road or branch herein named. Fifty miles of each of said roads and branches shall be built within three years, and the remainder thereof shall be completed within five years thereafter, or the land's lying upon the unfinished portions of any road or branch shall revert to the United States. The title to the lands shall vest in said States respectively, in the manner prescribed in acts of Congress granting public lands to said States for kindred purposes, and subject to corresponding limitations and restrictions, except as modified or altered by the provisions of this act.
SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That the several railroad companies authorized, or who may be authorized, by said States, of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri, severally to construct railroads along the routes indicated in the preceding section, together with such company or companies as are or may be authorized by the States of Texas and California, severally, to construct a railroad or railroads along the route between San Francisco and Shrevesport, or such one or more of said companies as may elect to avail themselves of the privileges herein granted, are hereby authorized to construct a railroad from El Paso, or from some point between El Paso and Fort Fillmore, in New Mexico, upon the line separating that Territory from the State of Texas, to the State of California, and thence, with the assent of said State, to the city of San Francisco; and two branches – one to San Diego, and the other to a suitable point on the Pacific ocean, or to navigable waters leading thereto. The company or companies electing to build said railroad shall file, within twelve months from January next, in the Department of the Interior, their written acceptance of the grant herein contained, and within three years thereafter shall build and equip not less than fifty miles of said road. And, to aid in the construction of said railroad and telegraph line, there are hereby granted to said company or companies thus filing as aforesaid their acceptance of the provisions of this section, upon the conditions, limitations, and restrictions stated in this act, forty alternate sections of land per mile of road, lying on each side of said railroad, beginning on the boundary, line of the State of Texas, in the Territory of New Mexico, and extending to the one hundred and eighteenth degree of longitude west from Greenwich, and from thence ten sections per mile, to the terminus of said road, and the same quantity of land per mile, to aid in the construction of each of the two branches thereof. And all privileges as to right of way, donation of lands, and of all other kinds whatsoever, granted to the company or companies authorized by this act to construct a railroad westward from Fort Kearney, are hereby granted to and conferred upon the company or companies that shall undertake to construct a railroad from Texas to San Francisco: Provided, however, That they shall also be subject to the same restrictions, limitations, and liabilities, as the company or companies authorized to build said railroad and telegraph line west from Fort Kearney. The pay for carrying the mail, freight, or persons, for the United States, shall be the same per mile on both routes; and whenever a railroad shall be completed from Shrevesport to New Mexico, the pay for carrying the mail, freight, or persons, for the United States over said road, shall be the same per mile, and subject to the same conditions, as stipulated to be paid for carrying the same on the railroad authorized to be built from Fort Kearney to California.
SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That for carrying freight, mails, and persons for the United States, the railroads herein provided for within the States of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri shall be allowed per mile the same rate of compensation, and be subject to like conditions, as directed by this act to be paid to the railroad companies authorized to build railroads from Fort Kearney east to the Missouri river.
SEC. 8. And be it further enacted, That the Pacific Railroad Company of Missouri may extend its Southwest Branch railroad from Springfield with the assent of said State, to such point on the railroad from San Francisco to Texas as said company, after making the necessary surveys, may select; and to aid in the construction of said Southwest Branch railroad from Springfield to the Texas and San Francisco railroad there is hereby granted to said Pacific Railroad Company of Missouri one-half of the quantity of public lands, reference being had to the number of miles of railroad to be built which is granted by this act to aid in constructing the main road from San Francisco to Texas, together with similar rights, privileges, and immunities, (except as to the rate of compensation for services to the United States which shall be hereafter fixed by Congress,) and subject to the same restrictions as said main road; deficiencies of land arising from like causes shall be made up in like manner as provided for by this act for the benefit of the road running west from Fort Kearney; fifty miles of said Southwest Branch railroad shall be built within four years, and the whole within fifteen years from the date of this act; no lands shall be sold by said company prior to the completion of twenty-five miles of the road, and then only so many sections as are granted for such twenty-five miles of road, and so on for each twenty-five miles of road as finished. If said company fails to complete said road within the time specified, the lands herein granted shall revert to the United States: Provided, That the company shall not be deprived of lands for so many miles of railroad as it shall actually construct, equip, and run, but only of the amount granted to aid in the construction of the portion of railroad remaining unbuilt: And provided further That in no case provided for in this act shall patents for lands issue in advance of the actual completion of the portion of road in aid of the construction of which they were granted.
SEC. 9. And be it farther enacted, That for the purpose of aiding in the, construction of a railroad and telegraphic communication between the northern lakes and the Pacific ocean, north of the forty-fourth degree of north latitude, there is hereby granted to the Northern Lakes and Pacific Railroad Company, of which Alexander Ramsey is president, and to their associates, successors, and assigns, the quantity of twenty sections of land per mile for the length of this line of railroad and telegraph, from such eligible point as may be selected by them for their eastern terminus, near the lake or river St. Croix, on the western boundary of the State of Wisconsin, by way of St. Paul, to the one hundredth degree of longitude west from Greenwich, and the quantity of forty sections per mile from said last mentioned point to such point on the, navigable waters of Puget's sound as said company may select for the western terminus of said railroad and telegraph; and there is also hereby granted to said railroad company the quantity of forty sections of land per mile to aid in the construction of a branch line of railroad and telegraph, commencing on their main line at some suitable point, to be by them selected, west of the Rocky mountains, and running to the Columbia river at or near the mouth of the Willamette river, in the Territory of Oregon and the quantity of twenty sections of land per mile is also hereby granted to said company, to aid in the construction of a branch railroad and telegraph line from the main line of said Northern Lakes and Pacific Railroad, at such point east of the one hundredth degree of longitude west from Greenwich as said company may select, to sonic point on Lake Superior to be by them selected; but all, the grants of land provided for in this section are to be taken with all the conditions, limitations, restrictions, and reservations, and the selections of lands shall be made in the same manner, as are prescribed and provided for in the grants herein made to aid in the construction of lines of railroad and telegraph between the thirty-eighth and forty-fourth degrees of north latitude.
SEC. 10. And be it further enacted, That if any railroad already located shall be used for any portion of the railroads herein provided for, then the lands heretofore granted by the United States to aid in the construction of such railroads shall be deducted from the quantity hereby granted to such road or portions of road: Provided, however, That if it should be found, that the lands thus heretofore granted to any of the roads proposed to be extended under this act, to aid in its construction, shall fall short of the full amount intended to be appropriated thereto, then said road shall be entitled to make up the deficiency out of any unoccupied and unappropriated lands of the United States within the State or Territory in which such road is located and on the approval by the, Secretary of the Interior of the selections made by such company, he shall issue patents or certified lists therefor: And provided further, That if the parties hereinbefore named desire to lay down more than one tract, they are hereby authorized so to do.
SEC. 11. And be it further enacted, That the said lines of railroad and telegraph shall be kept in good repair and in good working order by the proprietors thereof; and for any unwarrantable delay in the transmission of messages, or the transportation of troops, stores, mails, and other things that may be required by the United States, the said companies shall be subject to Such fines and penalties as may be hereafter directed by law, and the same shall be deducted from the moneys to be paid for such services to the said companies or company. And the said companies or company shall severally make an annual report of the progress and condition of said roads and telegraphic lines respectively to the Secretary of War, and the Secretary of War may appoint any engineer of the United States to make the necessary examination, and report from year to year.
SEC. 12. And be it further, enacted, That the lands hereby granted shall be exclusively applied in the construction of the roads for which they are respectively granted and selected, under the requirements of this act, and the same shall be applied to no other purposes whatsoever.
SEC. 13. And be it further enacted, That this act shall not be construed as applying to any lands hitherto reserved by the United States for any purpose whatsoever, or to lands in any manner selected or reserved by any competent authority under the provisions of existing laws: Provided, however, That the right of way, as hereinbefore provided, is granted through such reserved lands not in the actual occupancy by the United States for purposes inconsistent therewith: And provided further, That no road shall be located through any Indian reservation or Territory, except upon the written approval of the Secretary of the Interior, and the consent of the Indian tribe or tribes interested therein, previously obtained by the government of the United States.
SEC. 14. And be it further enacted, That the sections and parts of sections of land remaining to the United States on each side of the roads herein provided for, shall not be sold for less than double the minimum price of the public lands.
SEC. 15. And be it further enacted, That all minerals, whether of gold, silver, copper, tin, or quicksilver, shall be, and hereby are, expressly reserved and excepted in all grants or conveyances of lands company or made by the United States to any person or persons, companies, whatsoever; and Congress shall hereafter direct the manner of working such mines.
Mr. J. M. WOOD, from the Select Committee, submitted the following minority report:
The undersigned, being one of the Select Committee to whom was referred the subject of the construction of a railroad from the Atlantic States to the Pacific ocean, and differing from the views entertained by a majority of that committee, asks leave to submit the following as a minority report:
It is admitted by all parties that it is desirable to have constructed, as speedily as may be, a railroad from the valley of the Mississippi river to the Pacific ocean. The agitation of this question during the past few years has necessarily had the effect of rendering the project somewhat. familiar to the popular mind. The subject is unquestionably one which involves many difficulties, owing in part to the vastness of the country embraced within the limits explored, and the numerous and perhaps conflicting interests that are struggling for particular and favorite routes. The question, therefore, should be approached, as far as possible, without prejudice, and with the leading view of accommodating the largest possible portion of the community who are to be benefited by this great work. It may safely be said that a majority of the people now demand that the government of the United States should take early measures to provide for the construction of a wagon road and a railroad from some point in the Mississippi valley to the Pacific coast. Having given the subject some consideration, I have come to the following conclusions, namely :
That to accomplish this object with certainty, and in a reasonable time, the government of the United States must furnish the cash means to prosecute the work. The mode in which these means may be furnished is indicated at the conclusion of this report.
That, in selecting a route for this line, regard should be had to the geographical position of the thirty-one States of the Union relatively to each other as they are now formed and settled; and also to other lines of railway now leading to the Mississippi valley.
By an examination of the map of the United States and tracing the different lines of railroad thereon designated, the converging termini of these roads will be found to be at a point on the Missouri river, somewhere between the parallels of thirty-nine and forty-one degrees of north latitude and from such a point the road, should be commenced at this end, and follow the most direct and practicable route to San Francisco. The harbor of San Francisco is acknowledged to be the best on the Pacific coast; and that port is now the great centre of all the commercial relations of our western coast. The Columbia river at the north will in time become a point of importance as a commercial port for the inhabitants of Oregon and Washington Territories, and at the south we have the port of San Diego, with, a good harbor but less capacious than either of the others. It is believed, however, that no route can be made generally satisfactory, under the present state of things, which does not contemplate San Francisco as the terminus on the west, and at the east some point sufficiently central to accommodate the greatest amount of population and business enterprise. In this instance, as in all others of a like nature, the same rule of action should be observed which lies at the foundation of all success, namely, a due regard to the great centres of commercial enterprise and industry. Keeping this idea in view, it will be at once conceded that, other things being equal, this road, if built at all, should be built through such districts as will be most likely to concentrate the largest amount of population in the shortest time.
The explorations and surveys, reports of which accompany the report of the Secretary of War, are sufficient to decide upon what route the road should be built. [See the December 1, 1853, report of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis for his instructions to the U.S. Army Topographical Engineers conducting the Pacific Railroad Explorations and Surveys.] There are undoubtedly preferences according to sectional localities; but, if only one road is to be built, the weightiest arguments would unquestionably tend to a decision in favor of a route which, if practicable, will accommodate the greatest amount of the busy population of the country.
The determination of a route for a railroad is not always to be governed by the facility or cheapness with which it may be constructed. If such were the case, many roads would be built in favorable localities where there are but limited means for their support,
The map and profiles accompanying the Secretary's report indicate five distinct routes from the Mississippi valley to the Pacific ocean.
Survey Route Map - Pacific Railroad Surveys
Courtesy Jack Petree / Tom McAloon (Ed.) Ingersoll-Rand.
Profile No. 1 is of the most northern line, commencing at St. Paul, and terminating either at Vancouver, or Columbia river, or Seattle, in Port Discovery, on Puget's sound.
Profile No. 2 is of a line commencing at Westport or mouth of Kansas river, passing through South Pass, and terminating at the same point as No. 1.
Profile No. 3 is of a line commencing at Council Bluffs, and going through the Cheyenne and Bridger's Passes of the Rocky mountains, and near Salt Lake, across the Great Basin, through Madeline Pass and Sacramento valley, to Benicia, in San Francisco bay.
Profile No. 4 is of the central route, through Sangre do Christo and Coo-che-to-pa Passes to the Great Basin, where the route was abandoned as impracticable.
Profile No. 5 is of a cross-route from Independence, Missouri, to El Paso del Norte.
Profile No. 6 is of a route from Fort Smith, passing near Santa Fé, and terminating at San Pedro.
Profile No. 7 is the southern route, from Fulton, through El Paso, El Dado, mouth of the Gila, and Gorgonia Pass, to Martinez, on an arm of San Francisco bay, opposite Benicia.
Profile No. 8 is a spur of the last-named route, commencing at Indianola, Texas, a harbor on the Gulf of Mexico.
The information contained in the report and estimates furnished by the Secretary of War would lead to the rejection of all these routes, except the 1st, 3d, and 7th – that is to say, the routes of the 47th, 41st, and 32d parallels of latitude.
On profile No. 2 there is no estimate or report, the minutes seeming to be made up by former reports not combined with the late surveys or explorations.
Profile No. 4 is left unfinished, and is declared impracticable.
Profile No. 5, a cross-line, is not suitable for the road in question.
Profile No. 6 is considered as too expensive, and is objectionable on the score of high grades.
From the reports it appears that the nature of the explorations will not admit of determining the amount of curvature upon any of these lines; and, as regards the estimates, probably no two of them were made by the same party consequently no one standard of expense could have been assumed to govern all the estimates. This is exhibited in the fact that upwards of twenty millions of dollars were added to the estimates of Governor Stevens for the northern route, and a very large amount deducted from the estimates for the southern route; thus making the estimates for the northern line read $140,871,000, instead of $117,121,000, and reducing the estimate of the southern line to $93,120,000. The estimate for the route by the 35th parallel (profile No. 6) is left undisturbed at $169,000,000, though it is stated to be in excess of the probable cost.
The profiles of all these routes exhibit only the lines of average grades. Undoubtedly many undulations will occur in construction which are not at present represented. An analysis of what is given is shown in the following table;
On an examination of this table, the extraordinary proportion existing among all the lines of somewhere about eight-five per cent. of the length of each, consisting of gradients of thirty feet per mile and less to a level, will be apparent.
Profile No. 1, of the northern line, is very favorable, and must be allowed to be superior to all the others, both in its grades and the small sum of ascent and descent. Were there no other questions to be taken into consideration, this route would certainly be preferable to all the others as regards facility of construction. The objections to it are, its high northern latitude, leaving almost the whole United States territory to the south of it; its requiring a tunnel at Cadotte Pass four and a half miles in length; its terminating in a remote corner of the country at a great distance from the commercial centre of the Pacific coast; and its high cost as given in the Secretary of War's report.
Profile No. 2 represents a line terminating at the same points as above, is longer than that of No. 1, and is more objectionable on account of its grades, thirty-eight miles of which rate from sixty -to ninety feet per mile and one hundred and sixteen miles rate from ninety to three hundred and twenty-four feet per mile,
Route No. 3, the central route, as respects grades is second only to No. 1, and is greatly superior to any of the others. It has seventy-one miles, rating from sixty to ninety feet per mile, and only six miles above ninety feet per mile, the maximum grade being one hundred and twenty-five feet per mile; but that grade is only three miles and sixteenths of a mile in length. Besides, the whole of this extreme high grade is concentrated at the western pass of the Sierra Nevada mountain, and may probably be modified so as to be reduced to a rate of ninety, feet per mile, or less. Indeed, it is stated in the report that a new, and apparently more feasible, route has been discovered since the report of Lieutenant Beckwith was made. The total rise and fall in this line is twenty-nine thousand one hundred and twenty feet.
Profile No. 6, continued to San Francisco bay, by the western portion of profile No. 7, shows one hundred and forty-one miles' length of gradients ranging above ninety feet per mile, with a maximum grade of one hundred and eighty-three feet per mile for three and a half miles, and a total cost of $169,000,000.
Profile No. 7 represents the southern route two thousand and thirty-nine miles from Fulton to San Francisco bay. As respects grades, this line is much inferior to that of profile No. 3, the central line, There are one hundred and twelve miles having grades varying from sixty to ninety feet,. and thirty-seven miles with grades above ninety feet per mile, to which must be added a maximum grade of one hundred and seventy-three feet per mile for a distance of seven miles and two-tenths of a mile. These high grades are distributed occasionally throughout the length of the line, rendering it necessary to stock a large portion of the whole length of the road with the heaviest and most expensive locomotives. Of the grades above ninety feet per mile on this route, we have those of 91, 93, 94, 95, 108, 115, 119, 132, 155, and 157 feet per mile, besides the maximum of one hundred and seventy-three feet per mile. The total rise and fall upon this line is forty-two thousand nine hundred and thirty-four feet.
Admitting that each of these three routes is suitable for the purpose of constructing a good and sufficient railroad, it must also be admitted that, as regards gradients, the northern line is superior to the other two; and as regards expense, the southern line is superior to the others. The manner of estimating, however, is open to criticism. It appears that the standard of estimating has been fixed by likening the route to some well known railroad in operation in the North, such as the Baltimore and Ohio, "the New York and Erie," the "Hudson River," &c. Now it is indisputable, that the same amount of work .required on any of the above named roads could not be done as far south as the thity-second parallel of latitude, by an equal number of men in the same space of time, nor at the same rate of expense. The climate is such that the amount of, work done is less per day, and the rate of wages must also be somewhat higher. This must always greatly enhance the cost of any, public work commenced so far south as the thirty-second degree of north latitude.
The Secretary of War objects to the northern line because it runs so near the territory of a powerful foreign government. Will not the same objection apply, in some measure at least to the southern route also? Are we so weak as to express any fears on this account? Shall we not be better able to defend our frontier from the very fact that we have the means of transporting war material all along the line?
But the main facts which ought to decide the question of route have
not yet appeared. Let us ask the questions. On what latitude is the great
central mass of the population of this country situated, and in what direction
is the current of the moving population pressing? The replies to
these queries should have more bearing in determining the route than perhaps
any other considerations, after the practicability of the three great routes
is admitted. Referring to the map of the United States, and the last census,
it will be found that the whole population is enumerated at twenty-three
millions. Scanning closely the map of the United States, it will be perceived
that every State north of Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina, will
be better accommodated by the central line than by any other. Considering
St. Louis as a point of departure for the central line, it will be seen
that Arkansas and Tennessee are equally as well accommodated by the central
as by the southern line. The population of the States north of the States
of Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina, is upwards of seventeen millions
– nearly three-fourths of all the inhabitants of the Union. Even excluding
New England, New York, Michigan, and Wisconsin, we yet have a population,
centrally situated, of ten million five hundred and seventy-seven thousand,
or nearly one-half of the whole. Every one who is familiar with railroad
enterprises knows that it is the moving population which actually supports
the system; and that a railroad, to. be well supported, must be constructed
on the line in which that population wishes to move. The population even
north of the latitude of forty degrees is ten million eight hundred and
eighty thousand – nearly one-half of the whole; and if we look upon the
railroad map, we see most of the lines lying in an east and west direction,
absolutely indicating the course of the greatest amount of travel. The
amount of overland travel is already great on the central line – a fact
which cannot be shown in respect of either of the others. The communication
of the Mormons, both east and west, is also large. The Mormon settlement,
situated as it is must be a great aid in the construction and support of
a railroad to the Pacific. Again, the central line is the shortest between
the, two great commercial cities on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. This
is shown by the following statement of distances of miles:
|From New York to Benicia, via central line, is..............................||3,240|
|From New York to Martinez, via southern line, is.......................||3,647|
|From New York to Vancouver, via northern line, is 3,054
miles; and adding 580 miles to Benicia, not yet surveyed,
we have a total of..................................................................................
The northern line does not accommodate the State of California at all without an addition of about 580 miles parallel to the seacoast to carry the line to San Francisco bay.
Objection has been made in some quarters to northern and central lines on account of the deep snows common to high northern latitudes. This objection has some plausibility when we take into consideration the manner in which roads were located and constructed in the old States some years ago; but the observation and experience of later years have taught engineers, and those having charge of locations, the necessity of elevating their road-beds much higher than was formerly the practice; thus avoiding the evil consequences attendant upon hugging the surface of a level plain too closely. This improved elevation has resulted in entire relief from the effects of shows, as experience has shown, besides producing a better drainage, and not adding materially to the cost of construction.
Taking a broad view of the whole matter, the construction., the condition when built, the amount of population to be accommodated, and the amount of moving population to support the road, added to various other considerations not here enumerated, there would seem to be no question as to the vast preponderance of the reasons in favor of the central line.
A further survey, however, for a final location will be necessary, and this, it is believed, could be best accomplished by a mixed commission of engineers. One-half of this commission should consist of gentlemen in the employ of the United States government, and the other half should be taken from the most eminent of the profession, who have heretofore been employed upon railroads and public works by corporations.
In the appointment of commissioners to superintend and take charge of the construction of the work, there should be appointed, in connection with the Secretary of War, a board of directors, or commissioners, consisting of not less than five, nor more than thirteen, practical, experienced men – men who have been engaged heretofore on works of a like kind. A portion of this board should be constantly on duty on the line of road.
Propositions should then be called for, and 200 miles of road at each end be placed under contract simultaneously, and the further progress should be as rapid as prudence and circumstances would permit.
For the purpose of meeting the expenditure necessary to carry on this work on the part of the government, an appropriation of one hundred millions of dollars should be made by Congress, to be supplied in the following manner, namely. That all surplus money in the United States Treasury, after defraying the ordinary current expenses of the government, should be appropriated to this use; and, that, if necessary, bonds of the United States government, having thirty years to run, and bearing five per cent. interest, should be issued in such annual amounts as the requirements of expenditure on the work might demand.
For the redemption of these bonds at maturity, the public lands of the United States, not otherwise appropriated, should be set apart; and from and after the first of July, 1857, a sinking fund should be established for this purpose, to be made up of the avails of these lands as rapidly as they are disposed of.
In accordance with the foregoing views, the undersigned has prepared a bill, which he herewith submits, embodying the principal ideas expressed in this report. Many important matters of detail are necessarily omitted as being only fit subjects for consideration when the question itself shall come up for discussion in the ordinary course of legislative business.
The chief object of the undersigned has been to foreshadow what be believes to be the only feasible and practicable method of commencing and carrying on to completion this great national work – a work demanded. alike by the requirements of a great majority of the people of the United States, and by all the exigencies and interests of every section of the country.
A BILL to provide for the construction of a wagon road, a railroad, and a telegraphic line of communication from a point on the Missouri river, between the thirty-ninth and forty-first degrees of north latitude, to the Pacific ocean, at or near the city of San Francisco, in the State of California.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That for the purpose of constructing a wagon road, a railroad, and a telegraphic line of communication from a point on the Missouri river, between the thirty-ninth and forty-first degrees of north latitude, (said point to be finally determined as hereinafter provided,) to the Pacific ocean, at or near the city of San Francisco, in the State of California, the sum of one hundred millions of dollars shall be, and is hereby appropriated, out -of any moneys in the treasury of the United States not otherwise appropriated, or, which may hereafter be in the said treasury of the United States not otherwise appropriated, or which may hereafter accrue to the said treasury of the United States, or by, the issuing of bonds of the government of the United States, in such amounts and proportions as may be required, as is hereinafter provided.
SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That, for the purpose of superintending the construction of the said wagon road, railroad, and telegraphic line of communication, and the disbursement of the said sum. of one hundred millions of dollars, the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint nine suitable persons who have had experience in the construction of works of a like nature, who shall be styled "Commissioners of Construction and Disbursements," and. who shall receive out of the treasury of the United States, for their services, an annual compensation not exceeding _________ thousand dollars each: Provided always, That in case of malfeasance in office, or other disqualification on the part of any of the said commissioners, he or they may be removed by the President of the United States, and the vacancy or vacancies thereby occasioned shall be filled by new appointments by the President of the United States, which appointments shall remain in force until they are confirmed or rejected by the Senate: And provided further, That in case of the death or resignation of any of the said commissioners, the President of the United States may fill the vacancy or vacancies thereby occasioned in the same manner as is provided in the next preceding proviso.
SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That, for the purpose of making an immediate and final location of the said wagon road, railroad, and telegraphic line of communication, the Secretary of War is hereby authorized and required to appoint four persons from among the most eminent engineers now in the service of the United States, to act in conjunction with five other suitable persons to be selected by the President of the United States, who is hereby authorized, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint the same from the most eminent engineers not in the service, or the United States; and that on the recommendation of, or agreement upon, any particular location by a majority of the said engineers, the commissioners aforesaid shall accept the said location, and thenceforth and thereon proceed to the construction of said wagon road, railroad, and telegraphic line of communication in the manner provided for in the next following section of this act.
SEC, 4. And be it further enacted, That the location of said wagon road, railroad, and telegraphic line of communication being determined upon as aforesaid, the said commissioners shall cause proposals for contracts to be published in at least one principal newspaper in each State of the Union, for the construction of not more than two hundred miles of said roads and telegraphic line of communication at each end of the said line; and the said proposals for contracts shall appear at least sixty days in the said newspapers prior to the letting of said contracts, which, in all cases, shall be let to the lowest bidder who shall give sufficient security for the due and faithful performance of the same; and that, as speedily as circumstances will permit, the said commissioners shall put additional sections under contract, until the whole is completed.
SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That, for the purpose of meeting the current expenditures in the construction of the said roads and telegraphic line of communication, all surplus money in the United States treasury remaining therein, over and above the amounts appropriated by Congress to meet the current expenses of the government, shall be subject to the drafts of the said commissioners, or of some one or more of them duly authorized by the whole, to meet the monthly estimates as certified to by the engineers in the immediate charge of the works; and that, in case the said surplus should at any time be inadequate to meet the requirements of said current expenditures, the Secretary of the Treasury be authorized and required to issue bonds of the United States, in sums of not less than one thousand dollars, payable in thirty years from date, and bearing interest at the rate of five per centum per annum, from time to time, according to the amounts required to meet the said estimates.
SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That to secure the redemption
of the aforesaid bonds at maturity, all the public lands not otherwise
appropriated, belonging to the United States, from and after the first
day of July, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-seven, shall be set apart,
and the moneys accruing from sales thereof shall constitute a, sinking
fund to be appropriated to that purpose, and to no other whatever.
Transcribed, annotated by, and courtesy of the Bruce C. Cooper Collection.