Page images

development of the country so great that its people did not feel able to grasp and master it.

Railways have been known since the days of the Romans. The tracks were first made of cut stone. One hundred and fifty years ago iron rails took their place; and the modern railway was created by the Stephensons when they built the locomotive“ Rocket." Civil and mechanical engineering have kept pace with the growth of the world, until now there is no river so deep or mountam so high that they, combined, cannot build under or over it. One of the principal geniuses in solving the problem for controlling steam (Ericsson, the companion of Stephenson) is still alive, and Horatio Allen, who pulled the throttle of the first locomotive on its first trip made in the United States, is still with us. When we consider that from that day to this over 150,000 miles of railroad have been built in the United States, one can comprehend the strides the railway has made up to date, but its future possibilities cannot be imagined.

I can not close this paper more appropriately than by reading to you the final page of my last report to the Board of Directors, written upon the completion of the Union and Central Pacific roads. I submit that if written to-day it would not be materially changed. It is as follows:

In 1853 Henry Farnam and T. C. Durant, the then contractors and builders of the Missouri river railroad in Iowa, instructed Peter A. Dey to investigate the question of the proper point for the Mississippi and Missouri river road to strike the Missouri river to obtain a good connection with any road that might be built across the continent. I was assigned to the duty, and surveys were accordingly extended to and up the Platte valley, to ascertain whether any road built on the central or then northern line would, from the formation of the country, follow the Platte and its tributaries over the plains, and thus overcome the Rocky mountains. Subsequently, under the patronage of Mr. Farnam, I extended the examination westward to the eastern base of the Rocky mountains and beyond, examining the practicable passes from the Sangre Christo to the South pass ; made maps of the country, and developed it as thoroughly as could be done without making purely instrumental surveys. The practicability of the route, the singular formation of the country between Long's Peak, the Medicine Bow mountains and Bridges pass, on the south, and Laramie Peak and the Sweetwater and Wind river ranges, on the north, demonstrated to me that through this region the road must eventually be built. I reported the facts to Mr. Farnam, and, through his and his friends efforts, the prospect for a Pacific railroad began to take shape.

In after years, when the war demonstrated the road to be a military necessity, and the government gave its aid in such munificent grants, surveys were extended through the country previously explored, its resources developed, its hidden treasures brought to light, and its capabilities for the building of a railway to the Pacific fully demonstrated.

In doing this over the country extending from the Missouri river to the California State line, and covering a width of two hundred miles, north and south, and on the general direction of the forty-second parallel of latitude, some fifteen thousand miles of instrumental lines have been run, and over twenty-five thousand miles of reconnoisances made.

In 1863 and 1864 surveys were inaugurated, but in 1866 the country was systematically occupied, and day and night, summer and winter, the explorations were pushed forward through dangers and hardships that very few at this day appreciate, as every mile had to be run within range of the musket, as there was not a moment's security. In making the surveys numbers of our men, some of them the ablest and most promising, were killed ; and during the construction our stock was run off by the hundred, I might say by the thousand ; and as one difficulty after another arose and was overcome, both in the engineering, running and construction departments, a new era in railroad building was inaugurated.

Each day taught us lessons by which we profited for the next, and our advances and improvements in the art of railway construction were marked by the progress of the work, 40 miles of track having been laid in 1865, 260 in 1866, 240 in 1867, including the ascent to the summit of the Rocky mountains, at an elevation of 8,235 feet above the ocean ; and during 1868 and to May 10, 1869, 555 miles, all exclusive of side and temporary tracks, of which over 180 miles were built in addition.

The first grading was done in the autumn of 1864, and the first rail laid in July, 1865. When you look back to the beginning at: the Missouri river, with no railway communication from the east,

and 500 miles of the country in advance without timber, fuel or any material whatever from which to build or maintain a road, except the sand from the bare road-bed itself, with everything to be transported, and that by teams, or, at best, by steamboats, for hun. dreds and thousands of miles ; everything to be created, with labor scarce and high, you can all look back upon the work with satisfaction and ask, under such circumstances, could we have done more or better?

The country is evidently satisfied that you accomplished wonders, and have achieved a work that will be a monument to your energy, your ability, and to your devotion to the enterprise through all its gloomy as well as its bright periods; for it is notorious that, notwithstanding the aid of the government, there was so little faith in the enterprise that its dark days—when your private fortunes and your all was staked on the success of the project-far exceed. ed those of sunshine, faith and confidence.

This lack of confidence in the project, even in the west, in those localities where the benefits of its construction were manifest, was excessive, and it will be remembered that laborers even demanded their pay before they would perform their day's work, so little faith had they in the payment of their wages, or in the ability of the company to succeed in their effort. Probably no enterprise in the world has been so maligned, misrepresented and criticized as this; but now, after the calm judgment of the American people is brought to bear upon it, unprejudiced and unbiased, it is almost without exception pronounced the best new road in the United States.

Its location has been critically examined, and although the route was in a comparatively short time determined upon, as compared with that devoted to other similar projects, yet, in regard to the correctness of the general route, no question is ever raised; and even in the details of its location, 730 miles of which were done in less than six months, it has received the praise of some of the ablest engineers of the country. Its defects are minor ones, easily remedied, and all the various commissions, some of them composed of able and noted engineers, have given the company due credit in this particular, although they may have attacked it in others, and to-day, as in the past, the company need fear no fair, impartial criticism upon it, or no examination made by men of ability and integrity, or such as are masters of their profession.

That it yet needs work to finally complete it no one denies, but whatever is necessary has been or is being done.

Its future is fraught with great good. It will develop a waste, will bind together the two extremes of the nation as one, will stimulate intercourse and trade, and bring harmony, prosperity and wealth to the two coasts. A proper policy, systematically and persistently followed, will bring to the road the trade of the two oceans, and will give it all the business it can accommodate; while the local trade will increase gradually until the mining, grazing and agricultural regions through which it passes will build up and create a business that will be a lasting and permanent support to the country.

General Raum:-I move you, sir, that the hearty thanks of this Society be extended to General Dodge for his paper; that it be spread upon the record, and be printed with the annual report.

The motion of General Raum was seconded and unanimously adopted.

The President:-I need not speak to an audience such as this in praise of the historic paper just read by General Dodge. It so happens that I was, before the civil war, during it and since, deeply interested in the great problem of a Pacific railroad. Every word of General Dodge's paper is true, to my personal knowledge, and I endorse every proposition he has made.

When the civil war was over, you all must remember that I was stationed at St. Louis, in command of all the troops on the Western plains as far out as Utah. I found General Dodge as consulting engineer of the Union Pacific railroad, in the success of which enterprise I felt the greatest possible interest. I promised the most perfect protection, by troops, of the reconnoitering, surveying and construction parties, and made frequent personal visits on horseback and in ambulance, and noticed that the heads of all the parties had been soldiers during the civil war. I firmly believe that the civil war trained the men who built that great National highway, and as General Dodge has so graphically described, he could call on any body of workmen to “fall in,” “take arms,” “ form platoons and companies," “ deploy as skirmishers," and fight the marauding Indians just as they had learned to fight the rebels down at Atlanta. I will not claim that all were of the Army of the Tennessee, but the heads of parties were all, or nearly all, Union soldiers.

I was particularly interested in that part of General Dodge's pa

per wherein he described his discovery of the way to cross the Black Hills beyond Cheyenne (there was no Cheyenne then). He was limited by the law to 116 feet grade to any mile. Instead of following the Valley of Lodge Pole Creek, as all previous engineers had done, he chose the upper, or anti-clinal line, instead of the lower, or sin-clinal line. This was a stroke of genius, by which he surmounted the Rocky Mountains by a grade of eighty feet to the mile, whereas by any other route then known he would have been forced to a grade of 200 feet, or to adopt short curves through Laramie Pass.

The Union and Central Pacific railroads were the pioneer transcontinental roads in America, and every man who did his part should receive all honor. Now there are five trans-continental railroads, the last the Canadian Pacific.

It so happens that two years ago, having traveled by every other, I expressed a wish to return from San Francisco eastward by the “Canadian Pacific,” just completed. To my amazement I discovered that the President of that railroad was Major W. C. Van Horne, one of our railroad men, educated in our war between Nashville and Atlanta. He was then, as now, the President of that road, with a' salary of from $25,000 to $50,000, and they talk of making him a duke. He can hold his own with any duke I have thus far encountered. Anyhow, he acted like a prince to me. From his office, in Montreal, he ordered his agent at Victoria, in British Columbia, to extend to General Sherman every possible courtesy, which was done. I had a special car for myself and daughter, Lizzie, with privilege of stopping over at any station.

On the way eastward I met many people and heard many things of deep interest to me, and, maybe, to you. There are three mountain ranges between the Mississippi, or rather, the Missouri Valley, and the Pacific Ocean: The Rockies, the Wahsatch, and the Cascades. These converge to the northwest, so that in the Canadian Pacific the engineers had to meet them closer together than by our “Northern Pacific,” or by the “ Central” and “Union.”

In the first explorations, the English engineers saw no escape from the conclusion that to pass these ranges from their starting point on the Pacific —“Vancouver," a magnificent port — ther would have to follow the grade of Fraser river, by its west branch, to its very head, near the Henry House, and thence to descend the “Athabasca” eastward to Winnepeg, etc. This route was about

« EelmineJätka »