On the Railroad 150 Years Ago

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant was inaugurated as the 18th President of the United States on March 4, 1869. His first executive order, released later that evening, directed the suspension of the issuance of further subsidy bonds to the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads. Government officials had become increasingly frustrated with the inefficiencies of construction, the increasing rumors of financial corruption, and the inability of the two railroads to name a point where their lines would join to complete the Pacific Railroad.

Collis P. Huntington

Cutting off the primary source of financing for the railroads got the attention of the CP’s “Big Four” and the UP’s senior management. Collis P. Huntington, headquartered in New York, but frequenting Washington for lobbying purposes, was naturally designated as the point man for the Central Pacific. Grenville M. Dodge had completed his single term as a U. S. Congressman from Iowa the day before Grant’s inauguration, but he remained in Washington City to be the lead negotiator for the Union Pacific. Huntington and Dodge commenced more serious discussions about a meeting point.

Grenville M. Dodge

On March 7, 1869, the Union Pacific engine Black Hawk steamed into Ogden, Utah, for the first time. The UP had beaten the CP to this coveted destination. But since March 7 was a Sunday, this Mormon community of 1,500 faithful inhabitants decided to postpone the celebration of the arrival of the iron horse until the next day, so that everyone could participate. In the meantime, on March 9, 1869, the Central Pacific’s tracks reached milepost 556 in eastern Nevada. The CP was a long way from Ogden.

I wrote about the first train into Ogden in Golden Spike, The Iron Horse Chronicles—Book Three.

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2 Responses to On the Railroad 150 Years Ago

  1. Your history is always on the “right track.” Thank you for bringing your award-winning Iron Horse Chronicles to readers, young and old.

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