The Union Pacific Railroad - Charles Godfrey Leland - ebook

The Union Pacific Railroad ebook

Charles Godfrey Leland

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This book contains the record of a journey made by a party of gentlemen from Philadelphia to Kansas and back, during the month of November, 1866. The object of the excursion was to examine the condition of the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, to assemble in council, at Leavenworth, those who were specially interested in it, and to make such scientific and industrial researches along the route as might be of advantage to the enterprise. How this was effected has already been laid before the public in several prominent journals. The writer has taken pains in these letters to depict, as truthfully as possibly his experience and impressions of this very interesting journey. As the condition of that grand national enterprise, the Pacific Railway, was the principal subject of discussion by the tourists, the facts thus evolved form, of course, the subject matter of the series. As for the rest, he has done his utmost to set forth how he and his friends passed their time during their trip of three thousand miles in a railroad car, and what were his real feelings at the time. His chief object in republishing these letters - written originally for Forneys Press, of Philadelphia - has been to express, in a collected and somewhat more durable form, a slight tribute of his gratitude to the gentlemen of the company to whose general kindness and personal courtesy he is indebted for having passed as pleasant a month as it was ever his fortune to enjoy.

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The Union Pacific Railroad

Or, Three Thousand Miles In A Railway Car,

Charles Godfrey Leland.

Contents:

Preface.

Letter First.

Letter Second.

Letter Third.

Letter Fourth.

Letter Fifth.

Letter Sixth.

Letter Seventh.

Letter Eighth.

Letter Ninth.

Letter Tenth.

Letter Eleventh.

Letter Twelfth.

Letter Thirteenth.

Letter Fourteenth.

Letter Fifteenth.

The Union Pacific Railroad, C. G. Leland

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Germany

ISBN: 9783849622718

www.jazzybee-verlag.de

[email protected]

PREFACE.

The following pages contain the record of a journey made by a party of gentlemen from Philadelphia to Kansas and back, during the month of November, 1866. The object of the excursion was to examine the condition of the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, to assemble in council, at Leavenworth, those who were specially interested in it, and to make such scientific and industrial researches along the route as might be of advantage to the enterprise. How this was effected has already been laid before the public in several prominent journals.

The writer has taken pains in these letters to depict, as truthfully as possibly his experience and impressions of this very interesting journey. As the condition of that grand national enterprise, the Pacific Railway, was the principal subject of discussion by the tourists, the facts thus evolved form, of course, the subject matter of the series. As for the rest, he has done his utmost to set forth how he and his friends passed their time during their trip of three thousand miles in a railroad car, and what were his real feelings at the time. His chief object in republishing these letters — written originally for Forneys Press, of Philadelphia — has been to express, in a collected and somewhat more durable form, a slight tribute of his gratitude to the gentlemen of the company to whose general kindness and personal courtesy he is indebted for having passed as pleasant a month as it was ever his fortune to enjoy.

Philadelphia, January 9, 1887. C. G. L.

LETTER FIRST.

Harrisburg,October 29, 1866.

A few years ago an excursion to Fort Riley, Kansas, seemed like a tour to the Russian Territory, or one of those half life-long jaunts which were indulged in by the old travelers, who, having no apprehension of being followed by any one, lied, of course, at discretion. Then the word for such a trip was " make your will." Then the most reckless traveler provided himself with long boots and many weapons, blankets and blue beads, pewter jewelry and nose rings, with whatever else might be fashionable among Indian belles and warriors. Then there were long farewells to newspapers and other delicacies of refined life. Then, in a word, Kansas was a distance of the first magnitude, and a danger of the tip-topmost order. Murder and robbery were apprehensible, for, in one word, travelers were Sharp-rifled.

And now what a change! This morning we left—a pleasant party of eleven—on our way to the terminus of the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, at that Fort Riley, which was within Sq short a time a mere Indian station, with a name rather more suggestive of scalps and treaties than of cheerful jaunts and treats. As the gentlemen of the company are in a great measure directly interested in the stupendous industrial enterprise which is to connect the two oceans by an iron girdle, and as they are well known in this relation, I take the liberty of giving their names. They are General William J. Palmer, well known during the war as one of the most efficient officers of the great Army of the Cumberland, Colonel of the famed Anderson Cavalry; Mr. Ed. Miller, Thomas A. Biddle. J. R. G. Hassard, of the New York Tribune, Captain W. F. Colton, Dr. John L. Leconte, Mr. John Browne, Casper Souder, of the Evening Bulletin. Strickland Kneass. and Theodore Cuyler. In addition to these, other gentlemen interested in the Pacific Railroad will join us at different points as we progress. Our preparations, unlike those which would have been made a few years ago, are not more extensive than those which might have been made for New York or any other not remarkably savage place. In fact, with the comfortable "directors' car," luxurious as that used by Louis Napoleon himself, (perhaps some of my readers have seen that ne plus ultra of locomotive comfort,) with a nest-like movable arm chair as our least comfortable resting-place, and with the pleasing assurance that we do not quit this car until we shall see the stone walls of Fort Riley— in fact, journeying as the gentleman of Addisonian fame wished he might, in smoking-cap and slippers, when so inclined—it will be seen that the art of. traveling has now reached a high state of perfection indeed. When the reader reflects that this journey, accomplished in this style, takes us exactly to the centre of the North American Continent, and that it is now an almost foregone conclusion that the entire road will be completed within a few years, so that one may ride in his slippers from ocean to ocean, it will be seen what is meant by those magic words, " industrial progress." A phrase which I have heard defined by a humble student of Republican principles as meaning that "all the world should keep on having a better and better time."

An illustration of a minor branch of industrial progress met my eye on the "Pennsylvania Central," in the form of a splendid stone villa, such as is called a cottage ornee in England, a chateau in France, and a Schloss in Germany, which, as I am informed, is built entirely from paper shirt collars. I have seen in my time a handsome house, with double coachhouse, which was made of shoe blacking; half a dozen gentlemen's mansions which owed their structure to oil; one beautiful mass of Gothic towers which were literally erected from cards—(a card-house, in fact), and one palatial pile of buttons. Yet paper shirt collars will build more than this. When a single improvement in such a comparative trifle sells for three hundred thousand dollars, it can be seen that they can build up fortunes.

Another and truly magnificent item of industrial progress may be seen further on the same road, in the Pennsylvania Steel Works, three miles cast of Harrisburg, where steel is to be manufactured by the Bessemer process. It is nothing remarkable for palaces to be erected to labor in these days, and the grand proportions of this building are such that with due ornament it would not seem inferior to the proudest of our city edifices. Simple in details as it is, this building must impress a refined taste as one of the most beautiful of its kind in America.

LETTER SECOND.

Crestline, Ohio,October 31, 1866

Although my readers have doubtless heard for many years of the great Pacific Railroad, which is to connect the two shores of the North American Continent, it is more than probable that the majority have a very imperfect idea of the plan on which it is being constructed; and, in fact, it would be difficult for any one who has not made a specialty of the subject to be familiar with it, since some of its most important features are of a very recent introduction. Let me endeavor, then, so far as it is in my power, to convey, within brief limits, a sketch of its present condition, passing over the early efforts made to establish it, and the enormous expenses and many errors which were incurred or involved before anything like a practical plan, corresponding to the real wants of the whole country, was adopted.

GENERAL SCHEME.

The Pacific Railroad, in its present condition, may be rudely compared to a pitchfork, of which the portion west of the Rocky Mountains, or the California branch, forms the handle, and the Omaha and the Kansas, or rather the northern and southern roads now building east of the Rocky Mountains, are the tines. By their acts of incorporation, these roads are, however, distinguished with singular lack of inventiveness, the one as the Union Pacific Rail-road and the other as the Union Pacific Rail-way, Eastern Division. As regards the latter distinctive name, I am quite of the opinion of a writer in the Pittsburg Gazette, that it might more properly be at present called the Southern Division. As another route to the south of this is being planned, it will probably be known eventually as the Central Road. It has again been suggested that, as it will form the most direct route across the continent, it could well be called the Continental. Owing to the similarity in names, some confusion has arisen in the public mind as regards these two roads now being built to the east of the Rocky Mountains.

THE UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD—OR OMAHA ROUTE.

Let the reader take up the latest maps—say those in "Appleton's Guide"—and he will see that from Omaha, on the Mississippi River, there is a railroad running westward, partly on the Nebraska and Platte River. This is the Union Pacific Railroad, which is principally owned in New York and New England. The president of this road is the well known General Dix, while among those prominent in its management are the Hon. Mr. Ames, of Massachusetts, John B. Alley and Thomas C. Durant. It is intended, by the provisions established by Congress, that this Company shall build a railroad from Omaha towards the Pacific Ocean, until it meets the Central Pacific Road of California, now traveling rapidly towards it from the West on the other side of the Rocky Mountains.

The following extract sets forth the relations of this road with the routes east of the Missouri, which are most nearly connected with it, yet which are not as yet completed: "There are five of these roads. 1. The Cedar Rapids and the Missouri River. 2. The Mississippi and Missouri Railroad, which is the Iowa arm of the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad. 3. The Burlington and Missouri River Railroad, which is the Iowa arm of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. 4. The Council Bluffs and St. Joseph Railroad, connecting with the Hannibal and St. Joseph and Northern Missouri, from St. Louis. 5. The Dubuque and Sioux City Railroad, which is pointing that way. Two of these connections will probably be made during the course of the next summer. In addition, the American Central Railway has been projected, which is to run on an air line from Fort Wayne to Omaha."

This " Omaha Road" is at present three degrees and twenty minutes farther to the west than its more southern rival, but this advantage is counterbalanced by the unfinished state of the roads which are to connect it with the East. As regards climate and the impediments incident to winter travel, it compares with the more southern or Union Pacific Railway road much as the railroads of Canada and New England compare with those of Pennsylvania. Whether the fears once entertained of the tremendous snow drifts said to abound in Nebraska are well founded, remains to be seen; it is, however, to be hoped that, like many of the other bug-bears once raised by croakers against the Pacific Railroad, they are without reason.

THE UNION PACIFIC RAILWAY.

It is at Wyandotte, on the Missouri River, not far from Kansas City, that the Union Pacific Railway—that which we are now en route to visit— actually begins. By reference to the railroads lying towards the East, it will be seen that its affinity with our own city, Philadelphia, is very direct, owing to its direct connection with the so-called Pacific Road of Missouri, which intersects the last named State. It cannot fail to interest the reader to know something of this Missouri Road, which forms, as it were, an introduction to the Pacific Railroad proper.

This latter track, in fact, directly unites the Pacific Road in question with St. Louis. The Pacific Railroad of Missouri is built by a State organization, and extends from St. Louis to the east line of Kansas, by Kansas City and Wyandotte; at which place, as I have stated, it joins or runs into the "Union Pacific Railway,Eastern Division," now making a single route from St. Louis to Fort Riley, very nearly the centre of the American Continent. There is at present one defect as regards a continuous connection to be found in the fact that this Pacific Railroad of Missouri has the remarkable gauge of five feet and six inches, while that of the Union Pacific, in both the Omaha and Fort Riley Roads, is of four feet eight inches and a half, the same as that of the Pennsylvania Central, and all the connecting roads between Pittsburg and Omaha. It is thought by experienced engineers that this will eventually become the generally adopted gauge for all railroads in America. To obviate this difference of gauge it is intended to build along the line of the Missouri Pacific Railroad a third track of the four-eight-and-a-half gauge. In fact, this is the only link now wanting in the entire connection between Philadelphia and Fort Riley, and its completion is a foregone conclusion. There are, it is true, two other differences of gauge on the intermediate and connecting roads; but these are overcome by running cars with the so-called broad-tread wheels; that is to say, wheels with a surface so broad as to run on roads of a different gauge. When the mountain will not go to Mahomet, Mahomet must go to the mountain; and when the railroad is too broad for the wheel, the wheel must be made broad enough to suit (he road. It is in fact by following this principle that we of the Fort Riley excursion are accomplishing our tour without a change of cars for such an immense distance. I shall return, in my next, to this subject of theUnion Pacific Railway.

ON THE ROAD.

We are now whirling along through Ohio, Massillon being the last town which we passed, and I am glad to be able to chronicle that a pleasanter party probably never went by rail through the Buckeye State. From the Pittsburg Chronicle, of this morning, I learn that an excursion of prominent railway officials and distinguished citizens, composed of friends of the Union Pacific Railway, from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri, arrived in that city this morning, en route to Fort Riley, via Leavenworth. The excursionists, adds my authority—in whom, by the way, I place confidence—left Philadelphia yesterday morning, in elegant "silver-palace sleeping cars, and after remaining here a short time, proceeded on their way to Quincy, Illinois, by way of the Pittsburg, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway, thence they cress the Mississippi to Leavenworth, and thence to Fort Riley. At Leavenworth the St. Louis delegation will join the excursionists." To which, in the words of Brantome, I earnestly respond ainsi soit il—or, with the less illustrious Dow, "so mote it be."

LETTER THIRD.

I am now writing " on the road," on the morning of October 31,1866, flying across Illinois at extra speed.

One of the items of greatest interest at present, from an industrial point of view, is the Chicago-lake tunnel. Many years ago it was a subject of complaint that the water drank in Chicago was not drinkable, which may account for the fact that the inhabitants of that enterprising city were so unanimous in letting it alone. Strangers, who passed weeks in the place, often departed with distinct recollection of the quality of many stronger fluids, but the most rigid overhauling of the memory failed to supply any reminiscence of aqua pura, or H. O. Small fishes formed a frequent and unpleasant ingredient, and mud added a flavor by no means conducive to temperance. Finally it was declared that the complexion of the Chicago ladies was greatly injured by the fluid. Newspapers in rival and envious towns attempted to make it proverbial for untransparency, and suggested that rouge and emails were at. a premium in the Garden City. Then the Garden-citizenesses became indignant, and of course something had to be done. The result was the digging of a stupendous tunnel, one compared to which

"The wonderful tunnel Of great Mr. Brunel,"

which runs under the Thames, is only a trifle. I say this on the authority of the London Times, which declared this Chicago enterprise to be "the greatest feat of engineering of modern times."

One of the first objects pointed out to me this morning was the building, two miles out from shore, which covers the '; crib," or covering of the lake end of the tunnel. Under this there is a descent of seventy feet into what a visitor has described as a pandemonium of dirt and darkness. In this pandemonium the great work advances which is to give purity to Chicago coffee, and light to the eyes and complexions of Chicago. As I write, this morning, only two hundred and fifty feet remain uncompleted of the stretch of two miles which intervenes between the two shafts of the great tunnel under Lake Michigan. An item in the Chicago Tribune, of to-day, declares that at the ordinary distance of twenty-five feet per day, this distance would be went through in about eleven days, but that time will be extended to about nineteen days, owing to an accident which occurred on Monday. So the work will proceed a little more slowly from the western end, the workmen on that section having the honor of finishing what they begun.

It is needless to say that the people of Chicago have watched the progress of this great work, which reflects such credit on their unbounded and proverbial enterprise, with intense interest. It is the common topic of conversation, and its progress forms a subject of constant inquiry. Like the great organ of Boston, it is set forth to all strangers with no little pride. Fortunately, it is a topic of such general interest that no one has as yet thought of saying, as "Martial in London" did some thirty years ago, in Blackwood, of its predecessor under the Thames, that it was a great bore—" the greatest London ever knew—and that was saying a great deal."

THE PALACE CAR.

A remarkable subject of interest, which our party examined this morning, was the City of Chicago—not the metropolis itself, but its reflection, as regards splendor and enterprise, in a "sleeping car" of that name, which runs on the "Illinois Central." This car cost twenty thousand dollars, and is said to be cheap at the price. Every comfort which can be placed in such a vehicle is to be found between its wooden walls. The seats, the sides of the car and the ceiling are exquisitely adorned in marquetrie or inlaid woods, while the gilded glass frames, in ormolu, and the general tone of color, are truly artistic. It is heated by a separate furnace beneath, and its lounges and mirrors, with every other luxury, make it in fact a rolling palace. Not less remarkable is the corresponding seat-car for day passengers, which surpasses in splendor, and still more in comfort, any car which I have ever seen on an Eastern road. There is yet another car, which cost thirty thousand dollars, which I did not see, but which was described as a miracle of its kind. Luxury and enterprise are advancing with rapid steps in the West. It is said that the most costly diamonds, the richest laces and the finest cashmeres sold in Broadway or Chestnut streets, find their way, for the most part, to these ultramontane towns. Perhaps in this rapid action of expenditure, as well as acquisition, we may find one of the leading causes of the active growth of every industrial interest in the West.

In fact, the West may yet turn the tide of manufacture against the East. I observed yesterday, near Massillon, some thirty reaping machines marked for an Eastern destination. At Massillon, Canton and the immediately adjoining towns, there is an extensive manufacture of reaping machines, of which, as I was informed, no inconsiderable quantity is sent Eastward.

No one who has not seen Chicago can imagine the life, the enterprise— in a word, the incredible vitality—which seem to inspire its every detail. It is said that no city grows so rapidly; the lines of houses increase so quickly that it is almost impossible to renew the street paving so as to make it fit for use, worn as it is by ever-increasing travel. Such, at least, is the local legend, and I am almost inclined to believe it when I witnessed in the principal thoroughfare a rush of travel equal to that on Broadway.

THE PRAIRIE.

As we are now passing by the towns of Leland and Mendota, we see around the largest prairie without trees in this portion of the Union. Like the sea, these infinite "earth oceans" give no idea from description. One must pass hour after hour, even in a swiftly-darting railroad train, and then, little by little, the immense uniformity—the grand monotone, which, in its repose, surpasses in one charm all variety—gradually steals over the mind. I have heard Ole Bull speak in this strain of the charm of the prairies and of the spell of its solitude, both in music and in words. It is like the wonderful attraction of the desert, which seems at first so dull, and then in time becomes so fascinating. I believe that all poets have invariably found a more magical attraction in the single uniform beauty of the ocean than in all the variety of the mountains.

It was in this region, a few stations further back, that our party, feeling themselves far enough out West to be generally expansive, began to practice the salutary and invigorating national custom of making speeches to the natives of the divers small towns through which we passed—addressing them from the platform of the car. My boon companion and "best of bricks"—he of the Tribune—honored be his name in Gotham!— aided by the wild outcries of Colonel Palmer and the genial Miller, insisted that the inhabitants of Leland should be addressed by "one of them," which was done accordingly by him of the name. That speech is, I believe, somewhat extant and written, (for the Tribune stood by us as a reporter and took notes, while the joyous band of excursionists zealously hurrahed and encored,) but, as I remember, it ran thus:

"Men of the city that is getting to he, of Leland [immense cheers] :—In the three men and two boys now before me [cheers] I behold [bully for you !] a joyous sample of that glorious Western greatness [frightful and appalling hurrahs]—and long may it wave! [Hey—hurrah !] I have been complimented [ki—i—i!]—I may say, overwhelmed—with the assertion that this splendid settlement [deafening applause]—this wondrous ranchus ranchorum [cheers]—derived its name from the Humble Individual now before you. [Hoo! hoop! hurrah! bully for you !] Yet, when I look around at the inexhaustible resources of Nature open before me [tremendous cheers]—when I behold this level, I may say this lea land in the infinite prairie, then I recognize the true origin of this our name. [Admiring remark from oldest inhabitant: "Wall, I should'nt wonder if that was the way the town came by its name."] Having swung thus far around the circle, I give the Constitution into your hands [groans]—and the flag, with all its thirty-six stars [frightful hisses]—and would mention that, having risen from an alderman [howls], I would like to know why you don't hang Thad. Stevens? [Diabolical hoots.] And as I do not waste my ammunition on dead ducks [signs of a personal attack], I hereby invite you, in the name of the Pacific Rail Way, to step in and take an elevator."

Here there was a tremendous and bewildering storm of applause, and the inhabitants of the town rushed wildly up and began to climb the steps. But at that critical instant the whistle blew—the bell rung !— our guests tumbled back to save their lives, and amid tumultuous cheers, we left the joyous and republican town of Leland.

LETTER FOURTH.

THE CENTRAL PACIFIC RAILWAY.

A great English engineer once declared that rivers were intended, in the ultimate and eternal fitness of things, to feed navigable canals. In like manner, an enthusiastic American asserted that prairies were made by Providence for railroads. In fact, the dead level around us, as T write, and the arrow-like straightness of the track behind show that these steppes of the West are destined to a wonderful development, so far as it can be accomplished by transit; and what more does a country need, save that and a good climate and soil, to become infinitely prosperous? These advantages are enjoyed in an eminent degree by the Pacific Railway, which it is now our mission to visit. It possesses within its grants the richest lands in America, and has, between Wyandotte and the mountains, the best and easiest basis of construction of perhaps any railroad in America. This reflection, induced by the prairie, recalls the extremely liberal and fortunate conditions under which this road is endowed.

To each of the two roads which, when completed, will form the this side of the Rocky Mountains portion of the Pacific Railroad, Congress has given in bonds sixteen thousand dollars, payable in Government bonds upon the conclusion of each mile. Over and above this, which is of course quite inadequate to pay for the road, the company receives