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last spike in the great Pacific road. Indeed, am I its friend? Yea. Yet, am I to be a part of it, for as early as 1854 I was vice-president of the effort begun in San Francisco under the contract of Robinson, Seymour & Company. As soon as General Thomas makes certain preliminary inspections in his new command on the Pacific, I will go out, and, I need not say, will have different facilities from that of 1846, when the only way to California was by sail around Cape Horn, taking our ships 196 days.
All honor to you, to Durant, to Jack and Dan. Casenient, to Reed, and the thousand of brave fellows who have wrought out this glorious problem, spite of changes, storms, and even doubts of the incredulous, and all the obstacles you have now happily surmounted.
W. T. SHERMAN,
General. More than this. Turn with me to the first volume of his mem. oirs, page 79, where he says;
Shortly after returning from Monterey, I was sent by General Smith up to Sacramento City to instruct Lieutenant Warner and Williamson, of the Engineers, to push their surveys of the Sierra Nevada mountains, for the purpose of ascertaining the possibility of passing that range by a railroad, a subject that then elicited universal interest. It was generally assumed that such a road could not be made along any of the immigrant roads then in use, and Warner's orders were to look farther north up the Feather river, or some of its tributaries. Warner was engaged in this survey during the summer and fall of 1819, and had explored to the very end of Goose Lake, the source of Feather river, "-when this offi. cer's career was terminated by death in battle with the Indians.
He was too modest to add, as I have no doubt was the fact, that those instructions were sent at his own suggestion; that that was the first exploring party ever sent into the field for the special purpose of ascertaining the feasibility of constructing a railway on a portion of the line of one of the trans-continental routes; and that the exploration preceded, by at least four years, the act of Congress making appropriations “ for exploration and surveys for a railroad route from the Mississippi river to the Pacific ocean, the earlier fruits of which were embodied in thirteen ponderous volumes, printed at the expense of the government.
And still further. The interest thus early manifested, continuing with unabated force, was signalized in the closing days of his official life by a summary of trans-continental railroad construction up to that date, 1883, so exhaustive as to the leading facts that I am at a loss touching the scope he expects me to give to this pape
This summary may be found in General Sherman's last report to the Secretary of War, including the exhaustive statistics of Colonel Poe. (Ex. Doc. 1, part 2, 48th Congress, 1st Session, pages 16-17 and 253–317).
Under all the circumstances, therefore, I must assume that he expects me to confine my remarks to something of an elaboration of the details of the construction of those lines with which I was personally identified, more especially that which first of all linked the two oceans together.
Before proceeding with this, however, a single observation in reference to the priority of claim may not be uninteresting or out of place.
In General Sherman's summary, referred to above, it is stated that “It would now be impossible to ascertain who was the first to suggest the construction of a railway to connect the eastern portion of our country with the Pacific coast. It is probable that the idea in some form occurred to several persons. Very recently, Mr. E. V. Smalley, in his History of the Northern Pacific Railroad,' has presented the claim of Dr. Samuel Bancroft Barlow, of Granville, Mass., to this distinction, details the evidence upon which the claim is founded, and shows that as early as 1834 (possibly in 1833), Dr. Barlow advocated the construction of a railroad from New York to the mouth of the Columbia river, by direct appropriations from the treasury of the United States. But in presenting this claim to priority, is it not possible that the fact has been overlooked that Dr. Barlow's paper in the Intelligencer, of Westfield, Mass., was called forth by a series of articles upon the same subject, published in the Emmigrant, of Washtenaw county, Michigan Territory? And is not, therefore, that unknown writer of those articles really entitled to whatever credit attaches to priority of suggestion?”
While this statement is true, so far as we are now able to ascertain, it is a singular fact that before a mile of railroad was laid in any part of the world, a design of connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific ocean by means of steam-carriage was broached, if we can believe the following statement, which I quote from the memorial of Robert Mills, of February 18th, 1846 (H. R. Doc. 173, 29th Congress, 1st Session)
" The author has had the honor of being, perhaps, the first in the field to propose to connect the Pacific with the Atlantic by a
railroad from the head navigable waters of the noble rivers disemboguing into the ocean. In 1819 he published a work on the internal improvement of Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina, connected with the intercourse of the States of the West."
The following extract from this work will present the idea then formed, both of the practicability and importance of this intercourse to the nation,” etc., etc.
Then follows a description, enclosed by quotation marks, of a scheme of steam locomotion between the head waters of the drainage of the Mississippi Valley, and that of the valley of the Columbia, too long for repetition on an occasion like this.
I shall confine my paper to the acts and works of those who first took hold, as citizens, and in a private capacity built the Pacific roads.
When I first saw the country west of the Missouri river it was without civil government, inhabited almost exclusively by Indians. The few white men in it were voyageurs, or connected in some way with the United States army. It was supposed to be uninhabitable, without any natural resources or productiveness, a vast expanse of arid plains, broken here and there with barren snowcapped mountains. Even Iowa was unsettled west of the Des Moines river.
It cost the government, in those days, from one to two cents per pound to haul freight one hundred miles to supply its posts; and I was at one time in the country between Humboldt and the Platte nearly eight months without seeing a white man, other than my own employees.
Now, from the Missouri river to the Pacific, from the Red river and the Rio Grande to the British possessions, the territory is all under civil law.
The vast region is traversed its entire length by five great transcontinental lines of railroad. There is hardly a county in it not organized, and it is safe to say that there is not a township that is without an occupant. Its plains teem with all the products grown east of the Missouri river. It has become the great corn and wheat producing belt of the United States; its mountains are the producers of millions upon millions of the precious ores, and from every range and valley iron and coal, in immense quantities, are being mined.
It is said that a railroad enhances ten times the value of the
country through which it runs ana controls, but the value of this country has been enhanced hundreds of times. The government has reaped from it a thousand-fold for every dollar it has expended; and the Pacific roads have been the one great cause that made this state of affairs possible. The census of 1890 will place, in this territory, fifteen millions of people, and in twenty years it will support forty millions.
It is difficult, I doubt not, for you to comprehend the fact that the first time I crossed the Missouri river was on a raft, and at the point where stands the city of Omaha to-day. That night I slept in the “tepee” of an Omaha Indian.
When I crossed my party over to make the first explorations not one of us had any knowledge of Indians, of the Indian language, or of plains-craft. The Indians surrounded our wagons, took what they wanted, and dubbed us “squaw's.” In my exploring, ahead and alone, I struck the Elkhorn river about noon. Being tired, I hid my rifle, saddle and blanket, sauntered out into a secluded place in the woods with my pony, and lay down to sleep. I was awakened, and found my pony gone. I looked out upon the valley and saw an Indian running off with him. I was twenty-five miles from my party, and was terrified. It was my first experience, for I was very young. What possessed me I do not know, but I grabbed my rifle and started after the Indian, hallooing at the top of my voice. The pony held back, and the Indian, seeing me gaining upon him, let the horse go, jumped into the Elkhorn, and put that river between us.
The Indian was a Pawnee. He served under me in 1865, and said to me that I made so much noise he was “heap scared.”
Within a radius of ten miles of that same ground to-day are five distinct lines of railroad, coming from all parts of the country, concentrating at Omaha for a connection with the Union Pacific.
The first private survey and exploration of the Pacific railroad was caused by the failure of the Mississippi and Missouri, now the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific railroad, to complete its project. The men who put their money in that enterprise conceived the idea of working up a scheme, west of Iowa, that would be an inducemment to capital to invest in carrying their project across Iowa to the Missouri river. They also wished to determine at what point on the Missouri the Pacific railroad would start, so as to terminate their road at that point. The explorers adopted
Council Bluffs, Iowa, as the point. All roads crossing the State for
years ended their surveys at that point, and all roads now built connect with that point. These explorations, commenced by me in 1853, were continued each year until 1861, when the result was seen in the framing of the bill now known as the “ Law of 1862."
After this bill was passed the Union Pacific Company was or ganized at Chicago September 2, 1862, and Reed, Dey and Brayton made reconnoissances east of the mountains, Reed confining his work to the crossing of the mountains to reach the Great Salt Lake basin. The effort to engage capital in the road was a failure, and work was suspended.
During the explorations in 1856 or 1857 I happened to return to Council Bluffs, where Mr. Lincoln chanced to be on business. It was then quite an event for an exploring party to reach the States, After dinner, while I was sitting on the stoop of the Pacific House, Mr. Lincoln came and sat beside me, and in his kindly way and
was soon drawing from me all I knew of the country west, and the result of my surveys. The secrets that were to go to my employers, he got, and, in fact, as the saving there was, he completely “shelled my woods.” President Lincoln, in the spring of 1863, sent for me to come to Washington.
When I received the summons from General Grant at Corinth, Miss., to repair to Washington, giving no reason, it alarmed me. I had armed, without authority, a lot of negroes and organized them into a company to guard the Corinth contraband camp. It had been pretty severely criticized in the army, and I thought this act of mine had partly to do with my call to Washington; however, upon reaching there and reporting to the President, I found that he recollected his conversation on the Pacific House stoop; that he was, under the law, to fix the eastern terminus of the Pacific road; and, also, that he was very anxious to have the road commenced and built, and desired to consult me on those questions. He finally fixed the terminus at Council Bluffs, Iowa.
In the discussion of the means of building the road I thought and urged that no private combination should be relied on, but that it must be done by the government. The President frankly said that the government had its hands full. Private enterprise must do the work and all the government could do was to aid. What he wished to know of me was, what was required from the govern