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“Beyond the Mississippi”
by Albert D. Richardson
Albert D. Richardson's second book, "Beyond the Mississippi," was published in 1867. In its pages was an account of a trip from Sacramento to Salt Lake that Richardson made that year at the invitation of CPRR President Leland Stanford to inspect the ongoing construction of the line. A new edition of his popular work appeared two years later in 1869 to which Richardson had added several new chapters including one on the planning, construction and importance to the nation of the then newly completed Pacific Railroad over which he had just traveled.
Engraved advertisement for "Beyond the Mississippi."
The texts of these two accounts appear below.
Title Page and frontispiece (by the famous engraver and political cartoonist Thomas Nast)
from the 1869 edition of Albert D. Richardson's "Beyond the Mississippi."
EX-GOVERNOR LELAND STANFORD, president of the Central Pacific Railroad, and the other gentlemen engaged in building it, were kind enough to organize a pleasant excursion that I might see the progress of their great work. By the Congressional charters, this company constructing the line from Sacramento California eastward, and the Union Pacific working from Omaha Nebraska westward, will each own and run as much road as it can build; so both are engaged in a hard race for Salt Lake.
Each corporation receives in Government bonds sixteen thousand dollars, thirty-two thousand dollars, or forty-eight thousand dollars for every mile of road finished—sixteen thousand where the route is level and grading light; thirty-two thousand among the foot-hills, and forty-eight thousand in the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevadas.
Each company also acquires absolutely thirteen thousand acres of land per mile along its line; and is allowed to issue first mortgage bonds in equal amount to the Government subsidy—the mortgage upon which these company-bonds are based having priority as a lien upon the property of the road over the mortgage given to the Government itself. In addition, the California corporation has a donation of nearly half a million dollars in bonds from San Francisco, and thirty acres of valuable land, in the city limits, from Sacramento. No other enterprise in our country was ever so magnificently endowed. Ultimately the company expect to lay their track to Oakland, just across the bay from San Francisco; at present the western terminus is Sacramento.
Ten miles east of Sacramento the track is only one hundred and ninety feet above sea-level; at the crossing of the summit it is seven thousand feet. A peculiarly favorable route, where no elevation is lost after the climbing begins, alone enables it to rise nearly seven thousand feet in ninety-five miles.
The highest grade (one hundred and sixteen feet to the mile) just equals the sharpest ascent on the Baltimore and Ohio road. But it extends only three miles; and no other grade will exceed one hundred and six feet to the mile.
The cars now (1867) run nearly to the summit of the Sierras. At the time of my visit the terminus was Colfax, fifty-five miles east of Sacramento. Thence we took horses for twelve miles. Upon this little section of road four thousand laborers were at work—one-tenth Irish, the rest Chinese. They were a great army laying siege to Nature in her strongest citadel. The rugged mountains looked like stupendous ant-hills. They swarmed with Celestials, shoveling, wheeling, carting, drilling and blasting rocks and earth, while their dull, moony eyes stared out from under immense basket-hats, like umbrellas. At several dining camps we saw hundreds sitting on the ground, eating soft boiled rice with chopsticks as fast as terrestrials could with soup-ladles. Irish laborers received thirty dollars per month (gold) and board; Chinese, thirty-one dollars, boarding themselves. After a little experience the latter were quite as efficient and far less troublesome.
The Hudson Bay Company in its palmy days was compelled to import laborers from the Sandwich Islands; and without the Chinese the California end of the great national thoroughfare must have been delayed for many years. Twelve thousand are now employed upon it.
Cape Horn is a huge mountain around whose side the track winds upon a little shelf seven hundred feet above valley and stream-bed. At the west end of the road redwood trees are used for ties; in the mountains, spruce and tamarack.
At Gold Run a six-horse coach awaited us. Our day's ride was up a graded winding road, commanding an endless sweep of dense forest and grand mountain, among graceful tamaracks, gigantic pines and pyramidal firs.
Immense barns beside the mountain houses attest the length and severity of the winters. At many points we found the surveyors awaiting our coach to receive their letters and newspapers. The American pioneer can dispense with his dinner, but not with his mental pabulum.
We reached the summit two hours after dark, when its wild, gloomy grandeur is far more impressive than by day. It is boundless mountain piled on mountain—unbroken granite, bare, verdureless, cold and gray.
Through the biting night air we were whirled down the eastern slope for three miles to Donner lake, blue, shining, and sprinkled with stars, while from the wooded hill beyond glared an Indian fire like a great fiendish eyeball. The lake is an exquisite body of water, though less impressive than Tahoe; and the reflections of snowy peak, pine forest, clear sky, and minute twig and leaf in its depths, seem almost miraculous. The illustration, as faithful to nature as artist and engraver can make it, is far less vivid than the original photograph. In that, concealing the boat, figures and trees in the foreground-water, it is almost impossible to decide which side up the picture should be—which are the real hills, snow and forest, and which the reflection.
Donner lake is named from the Donner party of sixty Illinois emigrants, en route for Oregon, snowed in here in 1846. Knowing nothing of the climate, they attempted to cross too late, and were imprisoned by inexorable winter. The logs of one of their cabins; and stumps, twelve feet high, of trees which they cut off at the snow-surface, are still seen. Many ate human flesh; and about forty perished from starvation. Several yet live to tell their horrible story.
We slept at the Lake House; and spent the next day with the surveyors among the precipitous granite ledges, and visiting Lake Angela, a lovely little mountain gem. It was like picnicking at the North Pole; for snow lined the higher ravines and icicles hung from the water-tanks on the stage-road. Here during the previous winter they were engulfed by a snow-slide. Seeing it approach they stepped behind a tall rock; but it carried them fifty feet deep. In spring their bodies were found standing upright, with shovels in their hands. For several miles the track must be roofed to slide off the snow. There will be less than a mile of tunneling, all near the crest. The cost of the most expensive mile of road is estimated at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars. From the summit the line descends to the desert by the valley of the Truckee; and is easy of construction to Salt Lake City. Thus far the work is admirably done, comparing favorably with our best eastern railways.
On the second evening in our tavern parlor, there was a long earnest conference, to determine upon the route near the summit. The candles lighted up a curious picture. The carpet was covered with maps, profiles and diagrams are held down at the edges by candle-sticks to keep them from rolling up. On their knees were president, directors and surveyors creeping from one map to another earnestly discussing plans of their magnificent enterprise. The ladies of our excursion were grouped around them, silent and intent, assuming liveliest interest in the dry details about tunnels, grades, excavations, ‘making hight' and ‘getting down.' Outside the night-wind moaned and shrieked, as if the Mountain Spirit resented this invasion of his ancient domain.
Reluctantly leaving the pleasant party, I accompanied [Nevada] Governor [H.G.] Blaisdel twenty miles over a rough mountain trail, to Lake Tahoe, where, in obedience to a telegram, the little steamer waited to take us to the Glenbrook House. Tahoe forever! Our country has no other lake so beautiful. Its bosom glitters with dazzling diamonds; its depths photograph the most delicate tracery of hill, tree and cloud. Even the shadows of the faint surface-ripples, are clearly penciled upon the bottom, an exquisite, trembling, shining net-work.
Reports of coach robberies and Indian hostilities came from the eastward; so I telegraphed to a Salt Lake friend: 'Are the stageroutes to Montana and Idaho open, and reasonably safe ?' He responded: 'Both open, and perfectly safe for passengers going north, who are supposed to have no money.' This described my own condition so exactly that I started by the first coach.
Again I spent several days at Virginia, Nevada, that wonderful metropolis of the sage-brush. There as everywhere, mining interests had suffered from wild speculations and reckless expenditures. It was difficult to find a business man in California who had not lost in Washoe stocks. An acquaintance of mine sunk seventy five thousand dollars in three weeks; but he could afford it and said he counted the lesson cheap. One Virginia company, which spent a hundred thousand dollars in erecting a mill, received all the money back with interest in twelve months. Their superintendent realized that mining is business, not gambling; conducted it as men manufacture paper and sell dry goods—not as they speculate in stocks or play monte.
Many new inventions are offered; but the practical miners are ten years ahead of the books and the professors of natural science. The amateur angler comes from the city, with intricate extensionrod patent fly, water-proof clothing, silver brandy-flask, and all sporting theories in his head, but stands, the entire day, without persuading a single fish; while the unlettered country boy, barefooted, in torn trowsers, with birchen rod, line of twine, and plain hook and worm, secures a splendid string of trout in half an hour. So the chemist experiments in his laboratory and the geologist makes learned reports upon mines; but the men who feed the stamps originate the valuable improvements in machinery, and those who wield the pick find and recognize the real silver lodes.
A resident was pointed out to me, who within five years had paid half a million dollars interest upon borrowed money, and now was not worth a penny! In the mining regions outside of California money on the best security commands from two to six per cent a month—often compounded monthly! If these rates do not ruin any country, it must be so rich that ruin is impossible to ruin it—just as Scotchmen, according to Dr. Johnson, are so hardy that they cannot be starved.
From Virginia I continued eastward by coach, first having my hair cropped and beard shaven close enough for a votary of the Prize Ring. This lessens the disagreeableness of the alkaline dust which envelops horses and drivers, vehicle and inmates. A ride in its thick clouds is like a cold bath; one shrinks from it at first; but fairly in experiences a grim satisfaction.
Among our passengers were several New York gentlemen, bound for Montana, who, deterred by Indian difficulties from coming overland direct, had taken the long isthmus route to San Francisco, and were now going to Bannack via Salt Lake City. A pleasant young fellow on board, just from college, started around the world, but in the steamer lost at gambling the money his careful father had provided; so he too bad turned toward Montana, to retrieve his fortunes.
Spending but one day in Austin, I was unable to visit the 'Cortez' mining region on the north, or the 'Twin River,' and 'Silver Peak' on the south. They all promise richly. We entered Utah while the mountains were glorified; and white clouds seemed to rest, not against the dome of the sky, but in front of it, very near us, permitting us to gaze under and far beyond them, into its blue depths. One long bank lay from peak to peak, like a bridge of ice. The ashen ground of the desert was intersected with long slender streaks of light—the sun shining through narrow crevices in the clouds. The sunset was the finest I ever saw; and the twilight a miracle of gold and purple, pink and pearl, all turning at last to sullen lead.
Gladly we reached Salt Lake City, to enjoy baths, New York newspapers, and fresh fruit. Here as in California, delicious grapes and peaches abound. The apples are better flavored than in the Golden State. Almost our entire continent, from the Ohio valley to the Pacific seems adapted to the vine.
During this visit in September and October, I found a good deal of bitterness toward me existing among zealous Mormons, caused by the return of my Tribune letters. I had written frankly, but in no unkindly spirit. I could say nothing except ill of polygamy; and that excited their indignation. Some of the young Saints too were naturally wroth because I had spoken of the women as homely. At an out-door political meeting one night, they persisted in shouting for me with suspicious zeal and iteration. As I chanced to be visiting a friend a mile away, their vocal exercise was love's labor lost. The next day it was confessed that they had attempted to allure me upon the rostrum for the pleasure of hissing me, and possibly of pelting me. If the young democracy of Salt Lake mean to have a personal quarrel with every traveler who describes the feminine Saints as uncomely, they are not likely to suffer for want of employment.
Who first suggested a Pacific Railway? In 1778, Jonathan Carver foreshadowed it, and he of all men was farthest ahead of the age in which he lived. In 1835 the Rev. Samuel Parker, in his journal of an overland trip across the continent, recorded his opinion that the mountains presented no insuperable obstacle to a railroad. In 1838, Lewis Gaylord Clark wrote in the Knickerbocker, 'The reader is now living who will make a railway trip across this vast continent.' In 1846, Asa Whitney began to urge his project upon State legislatures and popular gatherings, and he continued to agitate the subject for five years. He proposed to build a line from the Mississippi to Puget Sound (California was not yet settled by whites) if Congress would give him public lands to the width of thirty miles along the entire road. Later experience has shown that their proceeds would have been utterly insufficient. Yet Whitney did not fail on that account, but because he could excite no general interest in the subject.
In 1850, the first Pacific railroad bill was introduced into Congress by sturdy old [Sen. Thomas Hart] Benton. It contemplated a railway only 'where practicable,' leaving gaps in the impassable mountains to be filled up by a wagon road. As yet even the Alleghenies were not crossed by any unbroken railway, but by a series of inclined planes, upon which the cars were drawn up and let down by stationary engines.
(click to enlarge map)
In 1853-4, by direction of Congress, nine routes were surveyed across the continent on various parallels between the British Possessions and Mexico. Among the young officers in charge of these explorations were McClellan, Pope, Saxton, Parke, and Whipple. Another, Lieutenant Gunnison, was murdered by the Indians while in the performance of his duty. The surveys resulted in thirteen huge quarto volumes of reports, which are now curiosities of our historical literature. Being issued at Government expense, they were profusely illustrated with colored engravings of flowers, plants, reptiles, fishes, birds, mountain scenery, and other objects which had no intelligible bearing upon the ease or difficulty of building a railway. Under the supervision of Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War, the results were summarized in the interest of the extreme Southern line, showing, with all the falseness of figures, that a road near the Gulf, along the thirty-second parallel, would cost only half as much as one further north, and that the route upon which our present line runs would be impracticable, on account of heavy grades and deep snows in the Sierras. Even up to 1864 the Canadians, and many of our own citizens, believed that a railway could not be built south of the British Possessions, unless it was carried far down toward Mexico.
In 1859, Congress indicated our natural and inevitable transcontinental system by authorizing the construction of three roads— a Northern, a Southern and a Central. They were to receive no money endowment, but very liberal land grants. Before any active steps could be taken to build them, however, all such enterprises were extinguished for the time by our great war.
But what Government had failed to do, the steady course of emigration was accomplishing. The Mormon hegira from Illinois to Utah, the Mexican war, the California gold discoveries, the Kansas troubles, and the rush to Pike's Peak, had all carried settlements westward from the Mississippi, and railroads were following across Missouri and Iowa.
Simultaneously, too, civilization began to push eastward from the Pacific. In the Washoe country, now Nevada, was found abundant quartz rock, rich and sparkling with silver. A rush to Washoe followed, and a great State was founded. The travel and traffic grew so enormous that a turnpike was soon built from Placerville, California, over the seemingly insurmountable Sierras. The machinery and other freights passing over it in a single year paid tolls to the amount of three hundred thousand dollars (gold), and the cost of transporting them was estimated at thirteen millions, or more than twice their original value.
The absolute need of some cheaper and easier conveyance, revived the idea of a continental railway, always popular in California. But could the Sierras be crossed by the locomotive? And who would furnish twenty-five millions of dollars to build a road over them? Theodore D. Judah, a sanguine engineer of Sacramento, insisted that the project was practicable both topographically and pecuniarily. Neighbors laughed at him, but earnestness is always contagious. Through many a long winter evening he talked upon his favorite theme with a group who frequented the hardware store of Huntington & Hopkins, a firm of wealthy, but cautious and frugal merchants. In a country where everybody speculated, they had never invested a dollar in mining, but had adhered strictly to their legitimate business. One partner, with his family, lived in their store building, separated from their goods only by a board partition made from boxes brought around Cape Horn, all the way from Boston.
Huntington was the first convert. Soon, Hopkins, Crocker, a leading lawyer, and two or three of their neighbors, were also among the prophets. In the spring of 1860, these gentlemen subscribed fifty dollars apiece to enable Judah to devote the summer to a careful mountain survey. Other Californians had advocated a Pacific Railway; legislatures and public meetings had endorsed it; but this was the first money paid—the business germ of the greatest enterprise the world has ever seen.
In autumn Judah and his corps returned to Sacramento, ragged, jaded, and hungry; but with a report so favorable that fifteen hundred dollars more was promptly raised to support them through the next season. A second summer was spent in surveying, with equally encouraging results. Then Judah was dispatched to San Francisco to secure subscriptions for incorporating the company; but after a month of faithful canvassing he returned home without having obtained a dollar. A poor engineer had started the project; two plain hardware merchants had put it in business shape; and now, not rich San Francisco, but unpretending Sacramento was to make it a success. Even after the Central Pacific Company had been chartered by the California Legislature, only two San Franciscans subscribed for shares (fifteen thousand dollars, all told), and one of them was a woman!
The company sent Judah to Washington, where he hung up his charts in the committee rooms, explained that California was ready to take hold in earnest, and though civil war was raging invoked the aid of the nation.
A few railway enthusiasts from New York and Massachusetts were already pressing the same request. At last the hour was propitious. Neither Congress nor the eastern public comprehended that our commerce and travel demanded such a road. Public opinion was not ripe for it as a business enterprise. But the conflict for the Union had already accustomed the North to such lavish outlay that the expense seemed less frightful than of yore. It had also developed some low mutterings about a Pacific Republic, and had shown that in case of a foreign war the isolated west coast would be our weak point. In the language of the hour, a continental railway was A Military Necessity; and as such, in July, 1862, one was chartered from the Missouri to the Pacific, with an endowment of unparalleled richness.
Thomas C. Durant and a few other live spirits of the Union Pacific (the east end of the line), were full of faith in the enterprise; but old and 'safe' New York capitalists regarded it as chimerical, and the franchise as practically worthless. The charter could not have been sold in Wall Street for a million of dollars. But in 1864 Congress changed the Government lien to a second mortgage, enabling the company to issue fresh mortgage bonds of their own. Then the Union Pacific, after many struggles, made a beginning, and built: in 1865, 40 miles; 1866, 265 miles; 1867, 245 miles; 1868, 425 miles; 1869, 105 miles: Total 1080 miles.
This was marvelously rapid work for a rough country, much of it destitute of wood, water, and supplies. For three hundred miles east of Salt Lake Valley the line averages nearly seven thousand feet above the sea. At this great elevation snows abound, but experience will teach how to overcome them.
Omaha and Council Bluffs, Siamese Twins of towns at the eastern terminus of the line, grow with its growth and strengthen with its strength. Omaha has twenty thousand people, and Council Bluffs ten thousand, with several diverging railways.
During construction, the 'terminal station,' moving forward with each advance of the track, was usually a place of five or six thousand inhabitants. Right upon the desert would spring up a crowded city, with enormous warehouses, daily newspapers, churches, banks, and gambling-saloons, and streets thronged with freight-teams starting westward. In a few weeks the scene would shift, and all this varied life disappear, leaving only a little station, with its water tank and forlorn dwellings.
In Wyoming, the line traverses the dreary Bitter Creek region. Here the alkali water is not only unfit to drink, but can not even be used in the engines, as it deposits a sediment choking and clogging up the boilers. Until some method of neutralizing its noxious qualities can be discovered, a water tram supplies tanks for one hundred and fifty miles.
Indians have thrown one or two trains off the track, but in general have kept very clear of the locomotive. In Kansas, however, they have committed many outrages. Going to California in 1867, via the Kansas Pacific road, and thence by stage through Denver and Salt Lake, was a hazardous undertaking. Near Fort Wallace, one day in June, a coach which carried five passengers, one soldier and a driver, had a running fight for five miles, with a hundred mounted Sioux and Cheyennes. The travelers made the best resistance they could with their rifles, and kept the savages at a little distance, while the driver put his horses to their utmost speed. Every man on board, except one, was killed or seriously wounded. An old frontier friend of mine, Charles H. Blake, happily escaped though with a broken arm and a wound in the head. At last the vehicle, with its bleeding and dying inmates, reached the shelter of Big Timbers Station, and the savages sullenly retired without having taken a single scalp. The fight was probably one of the last, and certainly one of the most remarkable in the history of the Plains.
The Union Pacific road found for the first five hundred miles west from Omaha the easiest route ever followed; the Central, for a hundred and thirty east from Sacramento, one of the hardest. Before receiving any Government bonds the latter company must build and equip forty miles, which would carry the track far up the Sierras, and cost four millions of dollars. Money was worth two per cent a month in California. The coporators put in their entire fortunes, and obtained help both from San Francisco and the State; but all was only a drop in the bucket. To surmount the range would cost millions upon millions more, and it seemed impossible to obtain the money either in the United States or in Europe, for a line that was to become one of the world's main arteries.
Huntington, the vice-president and financial manager, was in New York, vainly endeavoring to procure the necessary rolling stock and material. In casting about for help, he encountered Fisk & Hatch, dealers in Government securities, who had done much to sustain the national credit through the darkest days of the war. 'Young men for action.' While older financiers shook their heads, these young bankers deliberately undertook to furnish the company with whatever money was needed, and as fast as it was needed. The amount proved to be from five to twenty millions of dollars per year; but they fulfilled their agreement. They went into the work in earnest, laboring with heavy capitalists in person; investing their own money in the company's bonds, which they put on the same basis with those of the Government; and calling to their aid Richard T. Colburn, an able and experienced journalist, who, with great skill and judgment, sent forth upon the wings of the press fact after fact, showing the greatness of the work and the value and safety of the Security. At first money came in slowly, but it soon accumulated like a rolling snowball. The bonds were rapidly advanced in price to keep them from selling faster than funds were needed; and finally a party of European capitalists subscribed at one transaction for four or five millions of dollars' worth on condition that the loan should be closed.
After reaching the summit of the Sierras, the company pushed forward with wonderful vigor. There were no connecting roads from which to borrow rolling stock; and all their rails, locomotives, and other material had to be shipped sixteen thousand miles, around the Horn; yet, under these disadvantages, they built: in 1863, 20 miles; 1864, 25 miles; 1865, 25 miles; 1866, 35 miles; 1867, 46 miles; 1868, 348 miles; 1869, 199 miles: Total, 698 miles.
Upon the Sierras, where snow sometimes falls to the depth of thirty feet, twenty-two miles of snow-sheds protect the track. Once or twice portions have been swept away by avalanches, causing a few hours' detention, but in general they answer their purpose so well that eighteen miles more are to be added.
Of the seventeen hundred miles between Omaha and Sacramento, not one-third is really mountainous, but more than two thirds were so counted, and received the higher Government endowments, thirty-two thousand or forty-eight thousand dollars per mile. Much of the Central Pacific traverses a flat country, yet not one mile received less than thirty-two thousand dollars. The Union Pacific obtained the highest figures per mile—forty eight thousand dollars—for one hundred and fifty miles west of Cheyenne, as heavy mountain work, though the region is really one long, inclined plane—'as fine a country to build a railway through as lies on the face of the globe.'
Building and equipping the entire line probably cost on an average fifty thousand dollars per mile. The Government bonds issued averaged thirty thousand dollars per mile, and the companies' first mortgage bonds sold for nearly thirty thousand dollars more, leaving a cash profit of seventeen millions of dollars upon construction alone, in addition to the ownership of the road and its magnificent land grant. Carver was right; the builders, 'exclusive of the national advantages,' indeed reaped 'emoluments beyond their most sanguine expectations.' And they finished the road a year earlier than its friends expected.
One of its early results will be to secure us two additional lines — a Northern and a Southern. We need them to develop vast mining and farming regions now lying idle; to end, once for all, the Indian troubles; and to enable us to command that vast commerce of the East for which all the nations are striving. A French company after working ten years and expending a hundred millions of dollars, has completed a ship canal across the Isthmus of Suez, shortening by thousands of miles the old sea routes to Asia; the Emperor of Russia is building a railway across Siberia to the borders of China, and English capitalists are beginning one from the Mediterranean, via the valley of the Euphrates, the Persian coast, Upper India, and southern China, to the Pacific. The foreign commerce of China amounts to five hundred millions of dollars per annum. Hitherto, it has been chiefly in British hands. The resident English merchants still outnumber the Americans, but the latter are gaining steadily, and are much the more popular with the natives. China offers us a limitless field for the introduction of bread stuffs, railways, steamers, telegraph lines, machinery, Yankee notions, and manufactured goods. India and Japan, too, invite American enterprise. We have every advantage of position; but, to make the most of it, we must have two more transcontinental lines, and the sooner the better.
The main stem of the proposed Southern road starts westward from Memphis with forts to New Orleans and St. Louis. It traverses the thirty-fifth parallel, through the Indian Territory, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, to San Francisco. It will afford a direct outlet from all our southern States to the Pacific, and give us in a few years a new belt of rich and populous commonwealths. The company now building the Southwest Road of Missouri has a land grant along this route, and my construct the line.
On the proposed Northern road, from Minnesota to Puget Sound, four States alone—Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon—remote and inaccessible as they are, already furnish one third of the entire gold and silver product of the United States. A railway will stimulate enormously the growth of our rich northern belt of States. It will make the distance between New York and China nearly a thousand miles shorter than by the Central route. Nor will it be seriously obstructed by snow, as there are no high mountain crossings. A company is chartered and has received a valuable land grant, but no money endowment. At an early day, and in the safest and most economical manner, the Government should secure the construction of both these lines.
The Atlantic is nearer to the Pacific than New York was to Boston fifty years ago. Going to California by our luxurious eating, sleeping, and drawing-room cars, is a wonder and a delight as contrasted with the old plains and mountain, or ocean and isthmus travel. At noon in New York it is nine A. M. in San Francisco. The line is so long that trains upon it are run by eight or ten different times. Ultimately we shall have a double set of hands upon all watches—one for local time, and one for general time—uniform all over the world.
In naming stations many heroes of the great war have been fitly remembered. So have Fremont, Benton, Bridger, and Peter Ogden, the latter an old guide upon the Plains. But many more should have been commemorated—De Vaca, Carver, Lewis and Clark, Long, Pike, Bonneville, Gunnison, Whitney, Judah (who did not live to see his dream a reality), and the other pioneers and martyrs of the national highway.
Some sanguine writers believe that by running steamers and locomotives at their utmost speed, the entire time can be reduced to three weeks—ten days from Yokohama to San Francisco, four from there to New York, and seven from New York to London; but for the present we may be abundantly satisfied with nearly twice that time.
Upon these closing lines my pen lingers, and I listen for the voice of the future brakeman. Day after day, on the continental journey, he opens his door and shouts to sleepy passengers:
'Chicago. Change cars for New Orleans and Lake Superior.'
'Missouri River. Change cars for Saskatchewan, Kansas City, and Galveston.'
'Rocky Mountains. Change cars for Santa Fe, El Paso, Matamoras, City of Mexico, and all points on the Northern and Southern Pacific Railroads.'
'Great Salt Lake—twenty minutes for dinner. Change cars for Fort Benton, British Columbia, Big Canyon of the Colorado, White Pine, Panama, Lima, and Valparaiso.'
'Sierra Nevada. Change cars for Owybee, Columbia River, Puget Sound, Sitka, and Kamschatka.'
'San Francisco. Passengers for New Zealand, Honolulu, Melbourne, Yokohama, Hong Kong, and all other points in Asia, Africa, and Europe will keep their seats till landed on the wharf of the daily line of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. Baggage checked through to Pekin, Calcutta, Grand Cairo, Constantinople, St. Petersburg, Paris, and Liverpool!'
Courtesy Bruce C. Cooper Collection.