On the Railroad 150 Years Ago

Both the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad hoped to beat their competitor to the opposite border of Utah from where they would enter the state in order to maximize the amount of government bonds they could claim. By the end of December 1868, the CP’s survey reached eastward across Utah all the way to the head of Echo Canyon at the Wyoming border. By year’s end, the UP had surveyed in the opposite direction as far as Humboldt Wells, Nevada, well beyond the Utah border.

Leland Stanford

Throughout December, the Central Pacific remained busy grading from Monument Point in central Utah to Ogden. Leland Stanford, CP’s president, demanded that Brigham Young get his contract graders working faster. Stanford wanted to beat the Union Pacific to Ogden, where he believed the two lines would eventually join. Stanford’s fellow “Big Four” owner thought otherwise.

Collis P. Huntington

Collis Huntington wanted to drive the CP on into Wyoming. The two men got together in late December to resolve their different objectives. Stanford traveled to Omaha, Nebraska, where he met Huntington who had come west from New York with his wife.

The Union Pacific went out of its way to provide a private car for the three passengers to make their journey west. However, the UP would not let them travel on the rails beyond Green River, Wyoming, because they did not want their competitors to see how bad the UP track work was for the next 110 miles westward.

UP Train on bridge crossing Green River in Wyoming

Stanford and the Huntingtons traveled from Green River to Salt Lake City via Wells Fargo stagecoach, where they spent Christmas in the company of Brigham Young and the saints. Then, the Huntingtons continued on stagecoach to Reno, Nevada, where they boarded a private CP car for their onward journey to Sacramento, California.

The year came to an end without a resolution on a joining place for the two railroads. In Golden Spike, The Iron Horse Chronicles–Book Three, I wrote about Jenny McNabb providing at meal for Stanford and the Huntingtons at a Wells Fargo Stage Station.

This entry was posted in Bear Claws - Book Two, Central Pacific, Eagle Talons - Book One, Geography, Golden Spike - Book Three, Stagecoaches, The Iron Horse Chronicles, Transcontinental Railroad, Union Pacific and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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