Iniciado o serviço ferroviário transcontinental - História

Iniciado o serviço ferroviário transcontinental - História

Em 10 de maio, em Promontory Point, Utah, um pico ferroviário dourado foi atingido, completando a primeira linha ferroviária transcontinental. O pico juntou-se às linhas da Ferrovia Union-Pacific que estava sendo construída para o oeste, de Omaha, Nebraska; e as do Pacífico Central sendo construídas para o leste, de Sacramento, Califórnia.

A Ferrovia Transcontinental

A possibilidade de ferrovias conectando as costas do Atlântico e do Pacífico foi discutida no Congresso antes mesmo do tratado com a Inglaterra que resolveu a questão da fronteira do Oregon em 1846. [8O principal promotor de uma ferrovia transcontinental foi Asa Whitney, um comerciante de Nova York ativo no comércio com a China que estava obcecado com a ideia de uma ferrovia para o Pacífico. Em janeiro de 1845, ele solicitou ao Congresso a autorização e a concessão de uma faixa de sessenta milhas através do domínio público para ajudar a financiar a construção. [9]

Whitney sugeriu o uso de mão de obra de imigrantes irlandeses e alemães, que era em grande abundância na época. Os salários deviam ser pagos em terras, garantindo assim que houvesse colonos ao longo da rota para fornecer produtos e tornar-se patronos da linha concluída. O fracasso do Congresso em agir sobre a proposta de Whitney foi principalmente devido à oposição vigorosa do senador Thomas Hart Benton do Missouri, que favoreceu uma rota ocidental originando-se em St. Louis.

Em 1849 Whitney publicou um livreto para promover seu esquema intitulado Projeto de uma ferrovia para o Pacífico. Foi acompanhado por um mapa da América do Norte que mostra a rota de sua ferrovia de Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, através das Montanhas Rochosas ao norte de South Pass. Uma rota alternativa ao sul da passagem juntou-se à linha principal no Rio Salmon e continuou até Puget Sound. As linhas propostas também se estendiam de St. Louis a San Francisco e de Independence, Missouri, ao Novo México e ao rio Arkansas. Este é um dos primeiros mapas promocionais submetidos ao Congresso e foi, de acordo com seu autor, concebido já em 1830 [10].

Embora o Congresso não tenha aprovado seu plano, Whitney fez da ferrovia do Pacífico uma das grandes questões públicas da época. A aquisição da Califórnia após a Guerra do México abriu caminho para outras rotas para o litoral. A descoberta de ouro, o estabelecimento da fronteira e o sucesso das ferrovias do leste aumentaram o interesse na construção de uma ferrovia para o Pacífico. [11]

As ferrovias também eram necessárias no Ocidente para fornecer um melhor serviço postal, como havia sido desenvolvido no Oriente, ao designar as linhas ferroviárias como "estradas de correio" em 1838. Fortalecidas por outras propostas, como as de Hartwell Carver em 1849 e de Edwin F. Johnson em 1853, estadistas importantes como John C. Calhoun, Stephen A. Douglas e Jefferson Davis declararam seu apoio à ligação do país por trilhos. Os legisladores, no entanto, não chegaram a um acordo sobre um terminal oriental e não viram os méritos das várias rotas para o oeste. Para resolver o debate, o dinheiro foi apropriado em 1853 para o Corpo Topográfico do Exército "para determinar a rota mais viável e econômica para uma ferrovia do Rio Mississippi ao Oceano Pacífico."

De acordo com as disposições da Lei de Apropriação do Exército de março de 1853, o Secretário da Guerra Jefferson Davis foi instruído a pesquisar possíveis rotas para o Pacífico. Quatro rotas de leste a oeste, seguindo aproximadamente paralelos específicos, deveriam ser pesquisadas por grupos sob a supervisão do Corpo Topográfico. O levantamento mais ao norte, entre os paralelos 47 e 49, foi feito sob a direção de Isaac Ingalls Stevens, governador do Território de Washington. Esta rota se aproxima muito daquela proposta por Asa Whitney.

O malfadado partido sob o comando do capitão John W. Gunnison foi explorar a rota ao longo dos paralelos 38 e 39, ou a rota da passagem Cochetopoa, que foi defendida pelo senador do Missouri Thomas Hart Benton. Após a morte de Gunnison nas mãos de índios hostis, o tenente Edward G. Beckwith continuou a pesquisa ao longo do paralelo 41. O capitão Amiel W. Whipple, astrônomo assistente do Mexican Boundary Survey, e o tenente Joseph Christmas Ives pesquisaram a rota ao longo do paralelo 35 em direção ao oeste até o sul da Califórnia. Esta linha foi escolhida por Jefferson Davis e foi essencialmente a rota percorrida por Josiah Gregg em 1839 e posteriormente pesquisada pelo Coronel John J. Abert. A pesquisa mais ao sul, que seguiu o paralelo 32, foi feita pelo tenente John G. Parke da Califórnia ao longo do rio Gila até as aldeias Pima e o Rio Grande. O capitão John Pope mapeou a porção oriental da rota de Dona Ana, Novo México, ao Rio Vermelho.

Uma quinta pesquisa, seguindo uma orientação norte-sul, foi conduzida sob a direção do tenente Robert S. Williamson. Este grupo reconduziu levantamentos topográficos para localizar passagens através da Sierra Nevadas e da Cordilheira da Costa na Califórnia, a fim de determinar uma rota que conectaria Califórnia, Oregon e Washington, feitos sob a direção do Tenente Robert S. Williamson [12].

Esses levantamentos mostraram que uma ferrovia poderia seguir qualquer uma das rotas e que a 32ª rota paralela era a menos cara. A Southern Pacific Railroad foi posteriormente construída ao longo deste paralelo. As rotas do sul eram questionáveis ​​para os políticos do norte e as rotas do norte eram questionáveis ​​para os políticos do sul, mas as pesquisas não puderam, é claro, resolver essas questões setoriais.

Embora questões seccionais e divergências fossem debatidas no final da década de 1850, nenhuma decisão foi emitida pelo Congresso sobre a questão da ferrovia do Pacífico. Theodore D. Judah, o engenheiro da Estrada de Ferro do Vale do Sacramento, ficou obcecado com o desejo de construir uma ferrovia transcontinental. Em 1860, ele abordou Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins e Charles Crocker, comerciantes líderes de Sacramento, e logo os convenceu de que construir uma linha transcontinental os tornaria ricos e famosos. A perspectiva de explorar a riqueza das cidades de mineração de Nevada e a legislação futura para ajuda federal às ferrovias os estimulou a incorporar a Central Pacific Railroad Company da Califórnia. Esta linha posteriormente se fundiu com o Pacífico Sul. Foi por meio dos esforços de Judah e do apoio de Abraham Lincoln, que viu benefícios militares nas linhas, bem como na ligação da Costa do Pacífico à União, que a Ferrovia do Pacífico finalmente se tornou uma realidade.

O Railroad Act de 1862 colocou o apoio do governo por trás da ferrovia transcontinental e ajudou a criar a Union Pacific Railroad, que posteriormente se juntou à Central Pacific em Promontory, Utah, em 10 de maio de 1869, e sinalizou a ligação do continente.


Artigos apresentando a Transcontinental Railroad From History Net Magazines

A romancista americana Marcia Davenport queria descobrir por si mesma o Velho Oeste. O problema é que sua busca por esse Ocidente ocorreu apenas em 1932, algumas décadas depois, muitos americanos devem ter pensado. Naquele ano, o encontro mais selvagem para a maioria das pessoas seria lutar contra a crise econômica e a desgraça. Davenport, no entanto, encontrou seu Velho Oeste e escreveu sobre ele em Boa arrumação revista em um artigo que ela intitulou “Carroça coberta - 1932”.

“[Eu] queria aventura, ou qualquer semelhança com ela no ano de 1932”, escreveu ela. "Então, é claro, eu voei." Davenport acreditava que cruzar os Estados Unidos de Los Angeles a Nova York "prosaicamente de trem seria enganado". Ela explicou que "não fazia sentido para mim sentar-me durante dias em grandes poltronas de pelúcia, atendidos por tropas de servidores especializados, comendo e bebendo iguarias, procurando maneiras de consumir o tédio". Em vez do constante "zumbido dos trilhos de aço seguros", Davenport embarcou em uma jornada que, para ela, invocou o romance de "Oh, Susanna!" fui para Oregon em uma carroça coberta “com um banjo no joelho”.

Foram necessários quatro voos separados para fazer a viagem transcontinental. No trecho de Salt Lake City, a United encaminhou os oito passageiros a bordo de um biplano trimotor pesado que seguia a rota Overland "tornada querida por canções, versos e histórias, a rota dos trens de bois, os quarenta e nove, as diligências, o expresso de pônei. " No caminho para Cheyenne, o mau tempo forçou o avião de Davenport & # 8217s a fazer um pouso não programado em um campo de emergência do correio aéreo do governo dos EUA chamado Parco, Wyo. O local de “um farol cuidado por um homem e sua esposa e sua filha que viviam em um pequena cabana lanosa do oeste na beira do campo. ”

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Neste campo de aviação isolado, os passageiros esperaram a tempestade passar. Depois de uma noite agitada de pouco sono, o grupo voou para o leste novamente no dia seguinte, apenas para ser forçado por uma densa neblina a fazer um segundo pouso de emergência, desta vez em Laramie. Para Davenport, todos esses problemas pareciam servir como um feliz lembrete de uma época em que a natureza imprevisível da viagem pelo oeste tornava cada jornada uma aventura memorável, mas, muitos anos antes, as ferrovias haviam levado o "Selvagem" do oeste e tornava a viagem de longa distância segura, previsível e, portanto, para viajantes aventureiros como Davenport, entediante.


A rota do sul e a compra de Gadsden

A Califórnia se tornou um território dos EUA em 1848 com o Tratado de Guadalupe Hidalgo, que encerrou a Guerra Mexicano-Americana. O mesmo ano viu o início da Corrida do Ouro na Califórnia (mais conhecida em 1849), que trouxe um grande número de pessoas para o oeste, muitas das quais permaneceram. A Califórnia tornou-se cada vez mais uma parte importante dos Estados Unidos e a ideia de uma conexão ferroviária ganhou apoio.

Persistiam as preocupações de que a neve tornaria a rota central impraticável. Uma pesquisa indicou que o melhor caminho para o sul passava por território ainda controlado pelo México. Portanto, em 1853, apenas cinco anos após tomar a Califórnia à força, os Estados Unidos fizeram a Compra Gadsden do México, adquirindo as porções ao sul do que hoje é o Novo México e o Arizona. Isso colocou a rota transcontinental sul inteiramente dentro dos EUA. No entanto, apesar de aprovar a compra, o Congresso não financiou a construção de uma linha ferroviária naquela época. A rota sul foi concluída em 1881, dando-lhe a duvidosa distinção de ser a rota da América. segundo ferrovia transcontinental. A rota é geralmente seguida pela Interestadual 10 hoje.


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Sr. Tornado

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A Cruzada da Pólio

A história da cruzada contra a pólio presta homenagem a uma época em que os americanos se uniram para vencer uma doença terrível. A descoberta médica salvou inúmeras vidas e teve um impacto generalizado na filantropia americana que continua a ser sentido hoje.

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Explore a vida e os tempos de L. Frank Baum, criador da amada O Maravilhoso Mágico de Oz.


A Ferrovia Transcontinental

Em 15 de maio de 1869, o serviço regular de trens começou na primeira ferrovia transcontinental da América. Milhares de americanos que se acostumaram a viajar em trem nos estados do Leste agora podiam viajar atrás de um cavalo de ferro até o mar ocidental de Walt Whitman. Embora não fosse possível - exceto em casos de excursões especiais - embarcar em um carro em uma cidade oriental e viajar ininterruptamente para a Califórnia, a maioria desses viajantes pioneiros parecia considerar as transferências necessárias em Chicago e Omaha, e em Promontório ou Ogden, como bem-vindo pausas em uma aventura de oito a dez dias.

“Todo homem que podia controlar o tempo e o dinheiro estava ansioso para fazer a viagem”, declarou o enérgico repórter itinerante John Beadle, “e todos os que podiam atirar tinta tornaram-se correspondentes”. Desde o início, muitos viajantes realmente pareciam compelidos a fazer um registro escrito de suas experiências. Seus relatos eram geralmente muito vagos até passarem por Chicago ou Omaha. Durante o primeiro ano de serviço transcontinental, os passageiros do Leste chegaram a Chicago na Michigan Central Railroad, mas em meados da 1887 eles tinham a opção de conexões da Pensilvânia, Erie ou Nova York Central.

“São permitidos setenta e cinco minutos para ir da estação de chegada à estação de partida”, disse William F. Rae, um inglês que fez a viagem no final de 1869. “No meu caso, os horários dos trens não correspondiam um trem partiu uma hora antes de o outro chegar. ” Como ele havia planejado uma breve parada em Chicago, Rae não ficou desapontado com o atraso forçado de 24 horas, mas muitos de seus companheiros de viagem ficaram, e por mais um século os viajantes em Chicago continuariam a sofrer o inconveniente de mudar de trem e falha em fazer conexões. Durante o apogeu das viagens de passageiros de ferrovias americanas, um dos ditos comuns era que um porco podia viajar pelo país através de Chicago sem trocar de carro, mas um ser humano não.

Para chegar à Union Pacific de Chicago, os viajantes tinham a opção de escolher entre duas rotas diretas, Rock Island ou Northwestern, e uma rota indireta, Chicago, Burlington e Quincy. Pessoas experientes que tomavam as rotas diretas logo aprenderam a evitar os trens expressos noturnos que os deixavam presos em Council Bluffs ou Omaha por quase 24 horas enquanto esperavam a partida do trem diário da U.P. para a costa do Pacífico.

Até que uma ponte foi concluída sobre o rio Missouri em 1872, os viajantes para o oeste também tiveram que suportar uma travessia em uma balsa de Council Bluffs para Omaha. E mesmo depois que a ponte foi construída, as ferrovias se recusaram a cooperar o suficiente para levar os carros das estradas do leste do outro lado do rio até a estação Union Pacific. Chegando em Council Bluffs, os passageiros tiveram que retirar a si mesmos e suas bagagens para os carros da Transfer Company. John Erastus Lester de Providence, Rhode Island, que viajou para o oeste em 1872 na esperança de melhorar sua saúde, disse que a passagem da Transfer Company "fez com que mais palavras duras fossem faladas do que aquelas que poderiam ser apagadas do grande livro por muitos dias". Ele não estava apenas desencantado com o tratamento que a empresa dispensava aos passageiros, mas também com a exigência de que toda a carga fosse descarregada dos carros orientais e, em seguida, reembalada para transporte através do rio.

Os primeiros viajantes da ferrovia transcontinental viram pouco para admirar em Omaha. Um descobriu que era "o lugar mais lamacenta que já vi", mas acrescentou que "as estradas geralmente estão cheias de poeira". Outro também descreveu a cidade como uma camada de lama, através da qual “o ônibus trabalhava lentamente, os passageiros externos sendo aconselhados pelo motorista a se moverem de um lado do telhado para o outro, a fim de evitar que o veículo sobrecarregado vire. Um sentimento geral de alívio foi manifestado quando a estação da Union Pacific Railway foi alcançada. ”

Quase todos concordaram que raramente tinham visto tanta confusão agitada como a desenvolvida na estação de Omaha nos horários das partidas de trem. Durante os primeiros anos, quando a viagem para o oeste foi considerada uma empresa ousada, rumores foram deliberadamente espalhados entre os compradores de ingressos novatos sobre o perigo de índios selvagens destruindo ou atacando trens. Isso, claro, ajudou os agentes da ferrovia de Omaha na venda de apólices de seguro para a viagem.

Exceto por um apito rápido do motor e o grito do condutor de "Todos a bordo!" não houve aviso da partida do trem. Isso geralmente resultava em uma corrida de passageiros que tinham que embarcar nos carros em movimento. “Por três ou seis quilômetros, passamos pelas falésias nas quais Omaha foi construída”, registrou John Lester, “e então avançamos pela pradaria aberta, as terras férteis de Nebraska. Uma vasta planície, pontilhada aqui e ali com árvores, se estende por todos os lados. ”

Na primavera, a terra ondulante estava coberta de flores silvestres, cuja fragrância chegava às janelas abertas dos carros que se moviam a trinta quilômetros por hora no verão, aos milhares que giravam na grama seca e no outono os incêndios das pradarias brilhavam contra o horizonte. “O espetáculo de uma pradaria em chamas é de infinita grandeza”, disse William Rae. “Por quilômetros de todos os lados, o ar está pesado com volumes de fumaça sufocante, e o solo fica vermelho com o assobio e o fogo impetuoso.”

Viajantes do exterior descobriram que a grama das Grandes Planícies era mais curta do que esperavam e compararam a extensão do verde acinzentado impulsionada pelo vento com as ondas do oceano, "ondulando como o Atlântico com uma forte ondulação". Eles também reclamaram de seus olhos cansados ​​com a mesmice da paisagem, do trem parecendo estar parado em um imenso vazio. Todos saudaram a primeira ruptura na monotonia das planícies - o rio Platte, que a ferrovia seguia para o oeste, assim como os trens de vagões de anos anteriores.

Quando a ferrovia transcontinental foi inaugurada para serviço, George Mortimer Pullman fabricava modelos experimentais de seus vagões-leito por quatro anos, e a Union Pacific aceitou vários deles em 1869. Eles eram chamados de Pullman Palace Cars e seus exteriores eram pintados em ricas cores marrons para distingui-los dos treinadores monótonos. Todos que podiam pagar os US $ 25 adicionais pela tarifa de primeira classe e US $ 4 por dia por um Pullman Palace Car estavam ansiosos para obter uma vaga. Os viajantes de primeira classe pagaram $ 100 pela viagem de segunda classe ou ônibus de Omaha a Sacramento $ 75. Também havia uma tarifa especial de US $ 40 para os imigrantes, que viajavam em lugares apertados. Normalmente eram necessários quatro a cinco dias para completar a viagem em expresso, seis a sete dias em trem misto. A velocidade dos trens variava de acordo com as condições dos trilhos e pontes, caindo para nove milhas por hora em seções construídas às pressas e aumentando para trinta e cinco milhas por hora em trilhos mais lisos. A maioria dos viajantes do início de 1870 * 5 mencionou de dezoito a vinte e duas milhas por hora como a média. Embora as velocidades tenham dobrado em uma década, paradas e partidas demoradas em mais de duzentas estações e tanques de água impediram qualquer redução considerável no total de horas gastas na longa viagem.

Mesmo em uma época em que os americanos mais qualificados ganhavam menos de US $ 100 por mês, a demanda por espaço Pullman de cem dólares na ferrovia transcontinental era tão grande que a Union Pacific começou a operar três vagões-leito em alguns trens no início de 1870 e ainda estava dando meia-volta. -ser compradores de ingressos. Por causa do interesse de George Pullman na Union Pacific, ele abasteceu aquela ferrovia com inovações de luxo muito antes de chegarem às estradas orientais. Os viajantes ouviam ou liam sobre os Palace Cars e ficavam ansiosos para andar neles, custasse o que custasse. “Eu tinha um sofá só para mim, com uma mesa e um abajur”, escreveu um piloto satisfeito. “Os sofás são alargados e feitos em camas à noite. Meu beliche tinha um metro de largura e um metro e noventa de comprimento. Tinha duas janelas que davam para fora do trem, um belo espelho e estava bem mobiliado com roupas de cama e cortinas. ”

Os viajantes britânicos ficaram especialmente impressionados e enviaram cartas sinceras aos diretores das ferrovias em Londres, instando-os a "dar uma olhada no livro dos americanos e fornecer carruagens-leito para longas viagens noturnas". Eles também se deliciavam com a liberdade de movimento de um carro para outro, embora o viajante que se autografou como "A London Parson" admitisse que tentar se vestir em uma caixa de sessenta centímetros de altura era um pouco inconveniente. “Foi uma experiência estranha ir para a cama com cerca de trinta senhoras, senhores e crianças, em, praticamente, um quarto. Por duas noites, tive um jovem casal dormindo no beliche acima do meu. A senhora voltou-se primeiro, e logo seu vestido foi pendurado no corrimão onde as cortinas da cama estavam presas. Mas outros processos de despir foram indicados pela agitação da cortina que ocultava seu ninho. Como a mesma cortina servia para os dois beliches - o dela e o meu - o cavalheiro segurou a parte dela sobre minha cabeça quando foi necessário que eu me aposentasse. Por fim, todos foram alojados e alguns roncos se ergueram acima do barulho do trem. Não dormi muito na primeira noite, mas olhei para a pradaria iluminada pela lua de meu travesseiro. ”

Embora Pullman tenha introduzido um “carro de hotel” em 1870 com uma cozinha em uma extremidade da qual as refeições eram servidas em mesas removíveis colocadas entre os assentos da sala de estar, a Union Pacific programou o carro para apenas uma viagem por semana. Até a metade da década de 1880, a ferrovia transcontinental alimentou seus passageiros nos refeitórios ao longo do caminho, permitindo-lhes trinta minutos para obter sua comida e engoli-la antes de retomar a viagem.

A julgar pelos comentários dos viajantes, a comida variava de péssima a medíocre. A primeira parada para jantar fora de Omaha foi Grand Island. “Mal cozinhado e mal servido”, foi o comentário direto de um passageiro. “Achamos a qualidade em geral ruim”, disse William Robertson da Escócia, “e todas as três refeições, café da manhã, jantar e ceia, eram quase idênticas, a saber, chá, bifes de búfalo, costeletas de antílope, batata-doce e indiano cozido milho, com bolos de enxada e xarope nauseam. ” A nova-iorquina Susan Coolidge também reclamou da mesmice da dieta. “Era necessário olhar para o relógio para saber se era café da manhã, jantar ou ceia que estávamos comendo, essas refeições apresentando invariavelmente as mesmas características salientes de bife, ovos fritos, batata frita.” Ela foi generosa o suficiente para cumprimentar o chef em Sidney, Nebraska, por servir “cubos de mingau frito que diversificaram um café da manhã de excelência incomum”. Harvey Rice, de Cleveland, Ohio, descreveu a estação de café da manhã Sidney como uma estrutura tosca de pranchas e telas. “Aqui os passageiros foram reabastecidos com um excelente desjejum - um guisado de frango, como supunham, mas que, como foram informados posteriormente, consistia em cães-da-pradaria - uma nova variedade de galinhas, sem penas. Essa informação criou uma sensação desagradável em diversos estômagos delicados. ”

De acordo com William L. Humason, de Hartford, Connecticut, quanto mais se viajava pelas planícies, piores se tornavam os restaurantes, “consistindo em barracos miseráveis, com as mesas sujas e garçons não apenas sujos, mas atrevidos. O chá tinha gosto de ter sido feito com folhas de sálvia - literalmente chá de sálvia. O biscoito foi feito sem refrigerante, mas com bastante álcali, harmonizando-se com a grande quantidade de pó alcalino que já havíamos engolido ”. O único restaurante para o qual Humason tinha uma boa palavra era em Cisco, Califórnia, onde a água na mesa era cristalina, mas ele achava que um dólar e 25 centavos era “um preço muito alto a pagar por presunto e batatas fritos. ”

Na maioria dos restaurantes, os preços das refeições eram de um dólar, e na seção californiana do Pacífico Central os preços eram reduzidos para setenta e cinco centavos se o restaurante pagasse em prata em vez de papel-moeda. Nem a Union Pacific nem a Central Pacific operavam seus restaurantes, preferindo contratá-los a particulares, sem padrão de serviço exigido. A maioria deles ficava em prédios rústicos cheios de longas mesas sobre as quais grandes travessas de comida esperavam quando os passageiros desceram dos trens. Gradualmente, as estações individuais conquistaram reputação por certas especialidades, como bife em Laramie, biscoitos quentes em Green River, antílope em Sidney, peixes em Colfax. A parada para jantar mais elogiada foi em Evanston, Wyoming, onde a truta da montanha era a especialidade. “Era guardado por um homem de cor chamado Howard W. Crossley, cujo desejo evidente era agradar a todos”, escreveu John Lester. Ele acrescentou que a maioria dos “proprietários de restaurantes deveriam ser promovidos a escalões superiores, pois estão evidentemente acima de administrar um hotel”.

Como Cheyenne estava listada nos guias de viagem como a maior cidade entre Omaha e Sacramento, muitos passageiros esperavam um serviço de alimentação de qualidade superior lá. Eles ficaram desapontados ao encontrar uma pequena cidade de prédios de papelão e lona ocupada (como um escreveu) por cerca de três mil "mineiros de aparência perigosa com botas grandes, chapéus de aba larga e revólveres". O único recurso adicionado na sala de jantar era uma fileira formidável de cabeças de animais de grande jogo que brilhavam das paredes para os passageiros famintos. “As costeletas eram geralmente duras como fios de chicote, e as facas tão rudes quanto espátulas de pedreiro”, relatou um viajante.

Entre as paradas para as refeições, os passageiros eram desviados por uma procissão de animais selvagens desconhecidos ao longo de cada lado da pista, sendo os antílopes e os cães da pradaria os mais vistos. Muito mais antílopes do que búfalos se espalhavam ao longo dos trilhos da Union Pacific, e longas filas desses animais velozes costumavam se aproximar muito dos trens que passavam, aparentemente correndo com os carros e geralmente vencendo. Embora a Union Pacific desaprovasse a prática, caçadores ansiosos às vezes atiravam nesses animais com rifles e pistolas das janelas abertas dos carros. Poucos acessos foram registrados.

Os vilarejos de cães da pradaria também ficavam perto o suficiente para que os passageiros pudessem observar esses roedores gregários sentados na entrada de suas tocas. “Eles se lançam no ar com uma agilidade alegre e bonita de se ver, dão uma cambalhota e apresentam ao olhar admirador do viajante dois saltos peludos e uma cauda peluda curta enquanto saem do palco”, escreveu um passageiro.

Alces, lobos e ursos eram frequentemente vistos enquanto o cavalo de ferro trovejava pelo oeste, e um viajante teve certeza de ter visto uma matilha de cães selvagens trotando paralelamente à ferrovia, até que soube que eram coiotes. Enxames de gafanhotos e grilos eram outra visão desconhecida - eles às vezes desciam sobre os trilhos e faziam com que as rodas da locomotiva parassem temporariamente.

Embora apenas rebanhos de búfalos ralos tenham permanecido perto do direito de passagem da Union Pacific após o início da viagem de trem, os cavalos de ferro do Kansas Pacific (que corriam menos de duzentas milhas ao sul e se conectavam com a Union Pacific em Cheyenne) ocasionalmente eram cercado por búfalos e teve que diminuir a velocidade ou esperar até que o rebanho passasse. Um viajante no Kansas Pacific disse ter visto uma manada que se estendia até onde a vista alcançava. “Com a cabeça baixa e a cauda levantada, galoparam em direção à pista, fazendo um esforço extraordinário para atravessar à frente da locomotiva. Ao tentar esse feito estratégico, um espécime se viu erguido à força no ar e jogado na vala, onde ficou deitado de costas, os pés fendidos nutrindo-se loucamente. ”

Em seus primeiros dias, antes que as conexões fossem programadas com outras ferrovias, os engenheiros do Kansas Pacific voluntariamente pararam os trens para permitir que os passageiros saíssem dos vagões e atirassem nos búfalos que passavam. “Todo mundo sai correndo e começa a atirar”, escreveu o advogado John Putnam, de Topeka, a um amigo em 1868. “Não conseguimos pegar um búfalo. Eu não atirei, tendo ideias mal definidas quanto aos rifles de caça, em que extremidade você coloca a carga e em que extremidade você a solta ... Mas eu saí correndo com o resto - gritei promiscuamente - 'Búfalo! - Pare o trem' - 'deixe-me sair' '' lá estão eles! —Whoop-pey '-' Dê a eles o trovão '-' não vá '-' Volte '-' dirija '- Então você vê que eu ajudei muito. ”

Os búfalos e outros animais divertiam os viajantes em um cenário em constante mudança, que se tornava cada vez mais fascinante à medida que eles deixavam as planícies para trás. O primeiro vislumbre da cordilheira nevada das Montanhas Rochosas sempre enviava uma onda de excitação aos carros de passageiros. “Meus sonhos de menino se realizaram”, registrou um homem. “Por horas, na carteira da escola, eu ponderei sobre o mapa e vaguei, na imaginação, com Lewis e Clark, os caçadores e caçadores e primeiros emigrantes, longe dessas Montanhas Rochosas, sobre as quais tal mistério parecia pairar, - sonhando, desejando e torcendo contra a esperança, que meus olhos pudessem, algum dia, contemplar suas alturas coroadas de neve. E aqui estava a primeira grande extensão na pureza do branco distante, com certeza, mas lá estava, consagrada na beleza. ”

Wyoming estava repleto de maravilhas para esses viajantes do leste, mas quando o cavalo de ferro os trouxe através dos túneis para os desfiladeiros Echo e Weber de Utah, eles não encontraram superlativos para descrever as imponentes rochas semelhantes a um castelo. “Grandioso além da descrição ... castelos no ar ... formas e perfis fantásticos ... a cena é tão assustadora quanto sublime.” Pouco depois de entrar no Narrows of Weber Canyon, praticamente todos notaram a Árvore de Mil Milhas, um único pinheiro verde em uma desolação de rocha e sálvia, marcando a distância de Omaha. Os viajantes europeus compararam o Weber Canyon a portas de entrada para os Alpes. Castle Rock, Hanging Rock, Pulpit Rock, Devil’s Gate, Devil’s Slide - todos entraram nos cadernos de passageiros rabiscando que pareciam discordar se eram criações de Deus ou de Satanás.

Ao longo do caminho havia lembretes ocasionais de pioneiros de um dia anterior - os ossos de bois e cavalos mortos há muito tempo ao lado de trilhas profundas onde vagões cobertos rastejavam, uma lápide solitária, uma roda quebrada, um pedaço de mobília descartada. “Centímetro por centímetro, as equipes trabalharam para ganhar uma posição mais alta”, disse um viajante de trem apreciativo, “centímetro a centímetro, eles escalaram as passagens acidentadas agora em carruagens luxuosas, com cavalos de ferro, com um engenheiro habilidoso como motorista que somos carregada com conforto. ”

Quando não havia animais ou cenário para entreter ou admirar, sempre havia o clima em constante mudança do Ocidente. O trem no qual Harvey Rice estava viajando para a Califórnia em 1869 passou por uma tempestade tipicamente violenta nas Grandes Planícies. “Os céus tornaram-se, de repente, tão negros quanto a meia-noite sem estrelas. Os relâmpagos brilharam em todas as direções e bolas de fogo elétricas rolaram pelas planícies. Parecia que a artilharia do céu havia tornado o vale um alvo e que estávamos condenados à destruição instantânea. Mas, felizmente, nossos medos logo se dissiparam. A tempestade foi sucedida por um arco-íris brilhante. ”

As fortes chuvas provavelmente inundariam os trilhos e, nos primeiros anos, antes que os leitos das estradas estivessem bem fundidos, os dormentes afundaram na lama. Um viajante ficou surpreso ao ver o carro atrás dele levantando uma espuma de lama que parecia um barco navegando na água. Não era incomum que tempestades de granizo quebrassem as janelas dos carros e tornados pudessem tirar um trem dos trilhos. Uma das lendas do Kansas Pacific diz respeito a um tornádico tromba d'água que caiu de uma forte tempestade, varreu seis mil pés de trilhos e engoliu um trem de carga. “Embora grandes esforços tenham sido feitos para encontrá-lo”, disse Charles B. George, um veterano ferroviário, “nenhum vestígio dele jamais foi descoberto”.

Os viajantes de inverno podiam esperar tempestades de neve magníficas ou nevascas ferozes que às vezes transformavam uma jornada através do continente em uma provação. Na viagem de volta de William Rae para o leste da Califórnia no inverno de 1870, a locomotiva que puxava seu trem travou uma batalha de duas horas com uma tempestade de neve em seis quilômetros das planícies de Laramie. O atraso destruiu os horários dos trens na Union Pacific, mas Rae relatou que o fogão de ar quente em seu vagão Pullman o mantinha "tão confortável quanto o cômodo mais bem aquecido de uma casa inglesa".

Rae poderia não ter sido tão afortunado se ele estivesse viajando no Kansas Pacific, que sofreu tanto com nevascas quanto com tempestades de trovões. High winds drifted both snow and sand into cuts, leveling them across the tops, and the sturdy little wood-burning locomotives would have to back up, be uncoupled from the cars, and then run at full speed into the snowbanked cuts. This was called “bucking the snow,” and usually had to be repeated several times before it was effective. Engineer Cy Warman told of bucking an eighteen-foot drift with double engines so hard that his locomotive trembled and shook as if it were about to be crushed to pieces. “Often when we came to a stop only the top of the stack of the front engine would be visible. … All this time the snow kept coming down, day and night, until the only signs of a railroad across the range were the tops of the telegraph poles.” If the passengers were lucky, the train was backed to the nearest station, but even then conditions might be harsh. A group of snowbound train travelers who crowded into a hotel in Hays City, Kansas, spent an uncomfortably cold night and at daylight found their beds covered with snow which had drifted through cracks in walls and roof.

The universal desire of all pioneer travelers on the transcontinental was to see a “real wild Indian.” Few of them did, because the true warriors of the plains hated the iron horse and seldom came within miles of it. After the resisting tribes finally realized they could not stop the building of the Union Pacific’s tracks, their leaders signed treaties which removed their people from the broad swaths of land taken by the railroad. As the buffalo herds also fled far to the north and south, there was no economic reason for the horse Indians to approach the tracks. The Indians that the travelers saw were mostly those who had been corrupted and weakened by contacts with the white man’s civilization—scroungers, mercenaries, or beggars by necessity.

Except for a few acculturated representatives of Mississippi Valley tribes (who still plaited their hair but wore white man’s clothing and frequented railroad stations from Chicago to Omaha) the westbound travelers’ first glimpse of Plains Indians was around the Loup Fork in Nebraska where the Pawnees lived on a reservation. Although the Pawnees had virtually abandoned their horsebuffalo culture and lived off what they could cadge from white men, the warriors still shaved their heads to a tuft, painted their faces, and wore feathers and blankets. To travelers fresh from the East the Pawnees had a very bloodthirsty appearance, and according to the guidebooks every one of them had several scalps waving from the tops of lodgepoles.

Anywhere across western Nebraska or Wyoming, a traveler might catch a quick glimpse of a passing Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, or Crow staring at the iron horse, but they were few and far between. Not until the train reached Nevada was there a plenitude of Shoshones and Paiutes hanging about every station and using their treaty rights with the Central Pacific to ride the cars back and forth. Because these desert Indians were generally covered with dust and were often unbathed (there was no water readily available), the fastidious passengers found them objectionable, and the Central Pacific gradually put restrictions on their use of trains. At first they were confined to the emigrants’ coaches, and then after the emigrants objected to their presence, the Indians had to ride in the baggage cars or outside on the boarding steps.

Despite these docile remnants of the Great Plains tribes, some travelers spent a good deal of time worrying about Indian attacks. But train wrecks, and not ambushes, were the most immediate danger. Because of the relatively slow speeds of the early years, bruises rather than fatalities were the likely results unless the accident occurred on a high bridge or mountain shoulder. Poor tracks and hot boxes (overheating of axle bearings) caused many wrecks, and a surprising number of passengers suffered injuries from falling or jumping out of open car windows. One of the pioneer passengers of 1869 recorded how it felt to be in a train wreck in Echo Canyon: “On we bounded over the ties, the car wheels breaking many of them as though they were but pipe-stems. Every instant we expected to roll down the ravine. We ordered the ladies to cling to the sides of the seats and keep their feet clear of the floor. It seemed as if that train could never be stopped! But it was brought to a standstill upon the brink of an embankment. Had the cars gone a few rods further the reader would probably never have been troubled by these hastily written pages.”

Still another westbound traveler during that first year told of being shaken out of his seat when a Central Pacific train ran into a herd of cattle between Wadsworth and Clark’s Station, Nevada. The collision threw the locomotive off the track, but a telegrapher aboard climbed the nearest pole, tapped the line, and summoned a relief engine. During the eight-hour delay the hungry passengers butchered the dead cattle, built a fire, and cooked «teaks. Such encounters with cattle were among the most common causes of train wrecks in the West, and railroad men and ranchers were in constant friction for more than half a century over the rights of cattle to trespass on railroad property.

There were, of course, less-violent diversions than wrecks. At times on the journey, said Henry Williams in The Pacific Tourist , one could “sit and read, play games, and indulge in social conversation and glee.” By “glee” the guidebook author probably was referring to the improvised musicales and recitations that were especially popular among the Pullman passengers. In the early 1870’s some Pullman cars had organs intalled on them, and in the evenings amateur musicians as well as traveling troupes of professionals willingly gave performances. As one Pullman passenger described it, “music sounds upon the prairie and dies away far over the plains merrymaking and jokes, conversation and reading pass the time pleasantly until ten o’clock, when we retire. … If people who are traveling together will only try to make those about them happy, then a good time is assured. The second night on the road we arranged a little entertainment in the car and invited the ladies and gentlemen from the other cars into our ‘improvised Music Hall.’ The exercises consisted principally of recitations, with the delineation of the characters of Grace Greenwood. … The young ladies sang for us and we were all happy—for the time, at least.”

It was customary on Sundays to hold religious services in one of the cars. On a train rolling through western Wyoming in 1872, John Lester read the Episcopal service, the Reverend Mr. Murray delivered a sermon entitled “To Die Is Gain,” and a choir sang “Nearer, My God, To Thee” and the American national hymn. “Here in the very midst of the Rocky Mountain wilderness,” wrote Lester, “our thanksgivings were offered up and our music floated out upon the air, and resounded through the deep caverns, and among the towering hills.”

According to most travelers the popular pastimes were cards, conversation, and reading. “We had an abundant supply of books and newspapers. A boy frequently traversed the train with a good store of novels, mostly English, periodicals, etc. … In the evening we had our section lighted, and played a solemn game of whist, or were initiated into the mysteries of euchre, or watched the rollicking game of poker being carried on by a merry party in the opposite section.”

There may have been some “rollicking” poker games on Pullman cars, but most of them were as deadly serious as the real money-making endeavors of the players in that gilded age of the robber barons. Brakeman Harry French told of witnessing such a game one evening in the course of his duties. “The car was loaded to capacity with wealthy stockmen, and I suspect, a number of fancy women. In the cramped quarters of the men’s smoking room, a highplay poker game was in progress. Gold pieces and bills were the stakes, and they were very much in evidence. I was particularly interested in one of the players. Fine clothes, careful barbering, diamond-decked fingers marked him as a gambler.” Poker-playing professional gamblers, fresh from the declining riverboat traffic of the Mississippi River, could indeed be found on almost any transcontinental train in the 1870*5, and many a greenhorn bound west to seek his fortune lost his nest egg before reaching the end of his journey.

By the time the passengers arrived at Sherman Summit on their second day out of Omaha, they had formed into the usual little groups and cliques, and knew each other by sight if not by name. Sherman Summit, the most elevated station on the Pacific railroad (the highest in the world, according to the guidebooks), was also the halfway point between Omaha and the Union Pacific’s end of track at Ogden. If the westbound express was on schedule, the engineer would stop his panting iron horse longer than usual at the Sherman water tank in order to give the passengers a chance to stretch their legs, inhale the rarefied air, and enjoy the view before crossing Dale Creek bridge and plunging down the mountains into Laramie for a noon meal stop.

At Sherman some passengers were afflicted with nosebleed from the height, or were badly chilled by the cold wind, and were glad to leave it behind. Others found it inspiring: “Never till this moment did I realize the truthfulness of Bierstadt’s scenery of these hills. The dark, deep shadows, the glistening sides, and the snow-capped peaks, with their granite faces, the stunted growth of pine and cedar, all render the scene such as he has painted it.” And another traveler, Dr. H. Buss, whose medical skill may have been better than his poetry, preserved the memory of his visit in verse:

After lunch at Laramie, where “the people around the station are more intelligent-looking than at any place since leaving Omaha,” the train was soon across Medicine Bow River and into Carbon Station. Coal had been discovered there and was rapidly replacing wood for fuel on the Union Pacific locomotives. Westbound travelers usually crossed Wyoming’s deserts after nightfall, but even by moonlight the endless sweep of dry sagebrush and greasewood was described by various travelers as dreary, awful, lifeless. They complained of burning eyes and sore lips caused by the clouds of alkali dust swirled up into the cars, and thought Bitter Creek and Salt Wells appropriately descriptive names for stations.

About sunrise the train arrived at Green River for a breakfast stop, and for the next hundred miles everyone looked forward to the moment of crossing into Utah Territory, the land of the Mormons and their plural wives. Wahsatch was the noon dining station, and every passenger from the East who stepped down from the train peered expectantly around for Mormons, but the What Cheer Eating House looked about the same as all the others they had seen.

At Ogden, passengers awaiting connecting trains frequently had to spend many hours in a long narrow wooden building which had been erected between the tracks of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific. In addition to ticket offices and a large dining room, sleeping rooms furnished only with curtains for doors were available upstairs. One Englishwoman considered her enforced stay there an adventure: “Except for the passing trains this is a most lonely, isolated spot, weird and still, lying in the heart of the mountains. In the evening a blinding snowstorm came on, and the wind, howling fearfully with a rushing mighty sound, shook the doors and rattled at the windows as though it wanted to come in and warm itself at our blazing wood fire.”

Upon boarding the Central Pacific at Ogden, the firstclass passengers found themselves in Silver Palace cars instead of Pullmans. Collis Huntington and his Big Four partners refused to accept George Pullman’s arrangement for the use of his sleeping cars and ordered their own constructed. The Silver Palaces were attractive with their white metallic interiors, but although they were outfitted with private sitting rooms and smoking rooms, they lacked the luxurious touches which travelers from the East had grown accustomed to in their Pullmans. Passengers complained that their berths were not as roomy or as comfortable, and some said the cars were often too cold. Eventually the Central Pacific had to give up the Silver Palaces because transcontinental passengers resented having to change from their Pullmans.

The Cosmopolitan Hotel of booming Elko, Nevada, was the first dining stop west of Ogden. Alkali dust swirled in streets filled with freight wagons drawn by long mule teams hauling supplies to miners in nearby Pine Valley. Chinese workers discharged by the railroad had established a colony here and were much in evidence around the hotel. Beyond Elko was the valley of the Humboldt and the crossing of Nevada’s barren deserts. In summer, passengers choked on dust if they left the windows open, or sweltered in heat if they closed them. After passing Winnemucca, the iron horse turned southward to the Humboldt Sink (where the river was literally swallowed up by the desert) and thereafter, instead of facing the sun, continued a southwesterly course to the Sierra.

By this time the passengers were beginning to show the effects of several days travel, “a drooping, withered, squeezed-lemon appearance,” as one observer put it. “There were the usual crumpled dresses, loose hanging and wayward curls, and ringlets, and possibly soiled hands and faces which reduces the fair sex from that state of perfect immaculateness. …” Even the self-reliant Susan Coolidge admitted that after two or three days on the Pacific railroad she began to hate herself because she could not contend with the pervasive dust which no amount of brushing or shaking could completely remove from her hair and clothing. And one of the most frequent complaints of all early travelers was the discomfort caused by “the very oppressive smoke” from locomotives which constantly drifted into the cars.

The bracing air of the Sierra, however, was a perfect restorative for the weary travelers. With two locomotives pulling the cars, the train slowly climbed the winding canyon of the Truckee River, rising eighty feet to the mile. Pine and fir replaced the dreary desert sagebrush, and then came a spectacular view of Donner Lake encircled by forested mountains. The guidebooks told the travelers all about the gruesome tragedy of the Donner Party during the winter of 1846–47. And then, as one observer wrote, “after snorting and puffing, whistling and screaming, for an hour and a quarter, our pair of Iron Horses stop in the snow-sheds at the station called ‘Summit.’ Here we have a good breakfast, well cooked and fairly served although we could not expect waiters enough to attend in a rush such as they have when the passengers, with appetites sharpened by mountain-air and a long ride, seat themselves at table, and all with one voice cry, ‘Steak! coffee! bread! trout! waiter! a napkin!’”

From the summit of the Sierra to Sacramento was 105 miles, a drop from 7,017 feet to thirty feet above sea level. According to William Humason, fifty miles of the descent was made without the aid of steam. “The conductor and brakeman ran the train with brakes on most of the way.” For some travelers the ride down the western slope of the range was terrifying, and the coasting trains made so little noise that unwary railroad workers, especially in the snowsheds, were often struck and killed. “The velocity with which the train rushed down this incline, and the suddenness with which it wheeled around the curves,” said William Rae, “produced a sensation which cannot be reproduced in words. … The axle boxes smoked with the friction, and the odour of burning wood pervaded the cars. The wheels were nearly red hot. In the darkness of the night they resembled discs of flame.”

Corresponding somewhat to the biggest drop and swing of a modern amusement park’s roller coaster was Cape Horn, nine miles below Dutch Flat. The guidebooks warned timid passengers not to look down upon the awful gorge of the American River two thousand feet below, and John Beadle said that although Cape Horn offered the finest view in the Sierra, the sight was not good for nervous people. “We’re nearing Cape Horn!” someone would always cry out, and the next moment the train would careen around a sharp curve. “We follow the track around the sides of high mountains,” said William Humason, “looking down into a canyon of awful depth, winding around for miles, until we almost meet the track we have before been over—so near that one would think we could almost throw a stone across. We have been around the head of the canyon, and have, therefore, ‘doubled Cape Horn.’”

Almost as fascinating as the scenery and the rollercoaster ride were the Sierra snowsheds built by engineer Arthur Brown. When passenger service began, these sheds—built with sharp sloping roofs against the mountainsides so that deep snowfalls and avalanches would slide right off them—covered forty miles of track between Truckee and Cape Horn. After numerous passengers complained that the walls blocked their view of the magnificent mountains, the Central Pacific responded by cutting windows at the level of those of the passenger cars. The result was a series of flickering scenes somewhat like those of an early motion picture, but even this pleasure was denied Sierra travelers during the snowy months of winter when the openings had to be closed again.

“A blarsted long depot—longest I ever saw,” was the comment of an oft-quoted anonymous Englishman as he passed through the snowsheds, and another British traveler said he had never seen “a more convenient arrangement for a long bonfire. The chimney of every engine goes fizzing through it like a squib, and the woodwork is as dry as a bone.” To prevent fires the Central Pacific kept watchmen at regular intervals inside the sheds, with water barrels and hand pumps always ready to extinguish blazes set by sparks from locomotives. There was little they could do, however, against the forest fires which sometimes swept across sections of sheds. And sturdy though the structures were, an occasional mighty avalanche would crush one of them. The train on which Lady Hardy was traveling was delayed all night by the collapse of a shed while fifty male volunteers from among the passengers went ahead to clear the tracks.

The snowsheds not only covered the main track, they also enclosed stations, switch tracks, turntables, and houses where workmen lived with their families. Children were born in this eerie, dimly lit world where without warning a huge boulder or avalanche might crash through the roof, where trains derailed with disastrous results, and at least on one occasion wild animals escaped from a wrecked circus train to terrify the inhabitants. As snowplows were improved, some sheds were removed, others were replaced with concrete, and the army of workmen declined to a handful of lookouts and track walkers.

Although passage through the Sierra was their introduction to California, most westbound travelers did not feel that they had truly reached that golden land until their iron horse brought them down into the blazing sunshine and balmy air of the Sacramento Valley and the flowers and orchards of the Queen City of the Plain. “We seem in a new world,” said one. “The transition was sudden and the transformation magical,” said another. “The sun descended in a flood of glory toward the Pacific Ocean.” In Sacramento they were still more than a hundred miles from the Pacific, and like inspired pilgrims most decided to travel on to that legendary Western sea. Until 1870 they transferred to the cars of the California Pacific, which took them to Vallejo—where again they had to change, this time to a steamboat running down the bay to San Francisco. After the Central Pacific completed its subsidiary Western Pacific to Oakland in 1870, the journey was easier, although they still made the final crossing by boat before reaching San Francisco and the Pacific shore. After a week of noise, dust, and locomotive smoke the first act of those travelers who could afford it was to register at the magnificent Palace Hotel and seek out a quiet room and a warm bath.

And what were the feelings of travelers after they had completed their first journey by rail across the American continent? Those from other countries were impressed by the grandeur of the Western land, and of course they made comparisons with their own nations, sometimes favorable, sometimes unfavorable. They found travel by train across the West less tedious because they could walk about in the cars and stand on the platforms to enjoy the passing landscapes, yet at the same time they complained of the lack of privacy. They praised the comforts of the Pullman cars, but deplored the necessity for constantly changing trains. They confessed that before the journey they had feared the rumored American defiance of rules and regulations and recklessness in regard to speed, but they were pleased to find that American railway men held human life in as high regard as it was held in their native lands.

American travelers on the other hand were more concerned with feelings of national pride. After crossing the vastness of the American West, the endless unclaimed fertile lands, the prairies and forests, the broad rivers and towering mountains, they felt that they had seen a new map unrolled, a new empire revealed, a new civilization in process of creation. In the first years after the Civil War, the salvation of the Union was still a glorious promise of destiny. “I felt patriotically proud,” wrote one traveler to California. He saw the transcontinental railroad as a force binding the Union together “by links of iron that can never be broken.” Although Americans were aware that private corporations had built this first railroad to the Pacific, they rejoiced in the belief that California was a rich prize of empire which had been won for them by those connecting links of iron. In their first flush of triumphant pride, they viewed the railroad as a cooperative venture shared by the builders and the people. The disillusionment would come later, as would their doubts in an everexpanding empire.

For Americans and foreigners alike, there was a deepening sense of wonder at this final link in the encirclement of the earth by steam power. From San Francisco they could now journey to China and Suez by steam-powered vessels, from Suez to Alexandria by rail, from Alexandria to France by water, from France to Liverpool by rail and water, from Liverpool to New York by water, and from New York to San Francisco by rail. In reaching the Western sea, the iron horse had shrunk the planet.


Transcontinental Railroad of 1869

The Pacific Railway Act of 1862 called for the laying of track by the Union Pacific (UP) and the Central Pacific (CP), the former going west from Omaha and the latter going east from Sacramento. The two roads would eventually link.

The project had more than its share of problems. The government subsidies introduced perverse incentives, all chronicled by Professor Folsom. Since the railroad companies received land and loans in proportion to the amount of track they laid, management had an incentive to lay track rapidly in order to collect as much federal aid as possible. There was much less emphasis on the quality of track laid or on following the shortest possible route than there would have been in the absence of these government handouts. To the contrary, circuitous routes meant more track laid and therefore more federal aid. Moreover, since low-interest loans were granted in higher amounts for more mountainous terrain, the railroad companies had greater incentive to lay track over less suitable land than if they had had to lay track with their own resources.

As the two tracks approached each other in Utah in 1869, more serious troubles began. Seeing the end of subsidies looming, the two lines built track parallel to each other instead of joining, and both lines applied for subsidies on the basis of the parallel track. Worse, physical destruction and even death resulted when the mainly Irish UP workers clashed with mainly Chinese CP workers. The celebrations that took place on May 10, 1869, when the two lines finally met, obscured the often shoddy workmanship that government grants had inadvertently encouraged, and it was not until several years later that all the necessary repairs and rerouting were completed. Looking back on the construction process, UP chief engineer Grenville Dodge remarked, “I never saw so much needless waste in building railroads. Our own construction department has been inefficient.”


Transcontinental Railroad

The first Transcontinental Railroad (known originally as the "Pacific Railroad" and also as the &ldquoGreat Transcontinental Railroad&rdquo and the &ldquoOverland Route&rdquo) was a continuous railroad line constructed between 1863 and 1869. It connected the existing eastern U.S. rail network at Omaha, Nebraska/Council Bluffs, Iowa with the Pacific coast on San Francisco Bay.

While Asa Whitney published his ideas on the idea of a railroad to California in 1849, others also joined the chorus. Eventually Theodore Judah, chief engineer for the Sacramento Valley Railroad, undertook a survey to find a manageable route through the Sierra Nevada mountains and presented his plan to Congress in 1856. The next stop on the timeline is July 1, 1862 when Congress passed the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 which created the Central Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad. In total, the rail line was built by the Central Pacific Railroad Company of California (CPRR), Union Pacific, and Western Pacific Railroad Company over public lands provided by extensive US land grants.

It opened for through traffic on May 10, 1869 when CPRR President Leland Stanford ceremonially drove the gold "Last Spike" (later dubbed the "Golden Spike") at Promontory Summit. The entire line wasn&rsquot completed until November 1869 when the Central Pacific finally connected Sacramento to the east side of San Francisco Bay and Union Pacific connected Omaha to Council Bluffs completed the Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge in 1872.

The material here is just a fraction of what is written on the topic and is only intended to get researchers started. The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.


Transcontinental Rail Service Begun - History

Not everything the railroads brought was desirable. Railroads provided an endless supply of transient strangers, which proved great prospects for those of evil intent. Historian Ryan Roenfeld noted, "The wily skills shown on the muddy streets of Council Bluffs during the late 19th century would be the envy of the author of any Nigerian e-mail scam circulating the Internet today." Council Bluffs was a centralized location for con artists to work from it was so much easier to just stay put and let the pigeons flock to them. Better yet, the victims were generally just passing through. Before they could cause too much fuss they were on another train out of town, somewhat less financially well off than when they arrived. Where were the police during all of this? It appears as long as no locals were hassled strangers passing through were considered fair game. It was a different era with a different attitude one law enforcement officer was quoted as saying it serves the victims right "The shenanigans only succeeded because of the fundamental dishonesty of the victims wanting something for nothing."

The railroads were, and remain, as important as ever, but it doesn't take nearly as many people to keep the trains rolling. Diesels don't require the manpower that steam locomotives did they need less maintenance and a fireman isn't necessary in the cab. Much that had been done by hand became mechanized. Even the Railway Mail Service terminal became a casualty of the ZIP code and the mechanization it permitted. Though the trains kept right on rolling to and through Council Bluffs employment dipped precipitously and the city fell into economic doldrums. As business dipped local merchants couldn't afford improvements, making the downtown look outdated by the 1960s a whopping 77% of southwest Iowa retail business was going across the river to Nebraska. This triggered the aggressive urban renewal project that dramatically changed downtown.

So where does that leave us in our "what if" game? If the transcontinental railroad had started elsewhere the best guess is the metro area would be much smaller some prognosticators have speculated the Council Bluffs/Omaha population would be closer to ten thousand than the nearly one million it is today. We would likely be minus some of our tourist attractions. Seems unlikely the Union Pacific would have placed their museum in Council Bluffs had milepost zero been elsewhere. Would UP Chief Engineer Dodge have built his home in Council Bluffs if he had been working out of a different city? The "Squirrel Cage" jail came into being because the explosive growth of the city fueled by the railroads outpaced the efforts of law enforcement to keep up. Additional capacity was need quickly and economically. Certainly there wouldn't have been a Golden Spike monument, as there would have been no milepost zero along Ninth Avenue to mark.

What Council Bluffs really would have looked like without the transcontinental railroad will never be known exactly. It's not a risky assumption, however, that the metro area would be much different had that encounter between Lincoln and Dodge not taken place on the veranda of the Pacific House Hotel 160 years ago this summer.

The economy was booming Council Bluffs was the fifth largest rail center in the country— quite an impressive feat considering it was nowhere near the fifth largest in population. Then times changed.

The railroads were, and remain, as important as ever, but it doesn't take nearly as many people to keep the trains rolling. Diesels don't require the manpower that steam locomotives did they need less maintenance and a fireman isn't necessary in the cab. Much that had been done by hand became mechanized. Even the Railway Mail Service terminal became a casualty of the ZIP code and the mechanization it permitted. Though the trains kept right on rolling to and through Council Bluffs employment dipped precipitously and the city fell into economic doldrums. As business dipped local merchants couldn't afford improvements, making the downtown look outdated by the 1960s a whopping 77% of southwest Iowa retail business was going across the river to Nebraska. This triggered the aggressive urban renewal project that dramatically changed downtown.

So where does that leave us in our "what if" game? If the transcontinental railroad had started elsewhere the best guess is the metro area would be much smaller some prognosticators have speculated the Council Bluffs/Omaha population would be closer to ten thousand than the nearly one million it is today. We would likely be minus some of our tourist attractions. Seems unlikely the Union Pacific would have placed their museum in Council Bluffs had milepost zero been elsewhere. Would UP Chief Engineer Dodge have built his home in Council Bluffs if he had been working out of a different city? The "Squirrel Cage" jail came into being because the explosive growth of the city fueled by the railroads outpaced the efforts of law enforcement to keep up. Additional capacity was need quickly and economically. Certainly there wouldn't have been a Golden Spike monument, as there would have been no milepost zero along Ninth Avenue to mark.

What Council Bluffs really would have looked like without the transcontinental railroad will never be known exactly. It's not a risky assumption, however, that the metro area would be much different had that encounter between Lincoln and Dodge not taken place on the veranda of the Pacific House Hotel 160 years ago this summer.


The Chinese railroad workers who helped connect the country: Recovering an erased history

May 10, 1969, marked 100 years since the golden spike was hammered in at Promontory, Utah, signifying the completion of America’s first transcontinental railroad — a monumental engineering feat that linked together the nation's coasts.

A ceremony commemorating the anniversary drew a crowd of around 20,000. Among the attendees were Philip P. Choy, president of the San Francisco-based Chinese Historical Society of America, and Thomas W. Chinn, one of its founders.

Centennial officials had agreed to set aside five minutes of the ceremony for the society to pay homage to the Chinese workers who had helped build the railroad, but whose contributions had been largely glossed over in history. Choy, Chinn and the others gathered at Promontory that day had hoped this would be the moment when the more than 10,000 Chinese who labored for the Central Pacific Railroad finally got their due.

“Who else but Americans could drill 10 tunnels in mountains 30 feet deep in snow?” then-Transportation Secretary John A. Volpe said in his speech, according to a May 12, 1969, San Francisco Chronicle article.

“Who else but Americans could chisel through miles of solid granite? Who else but Americans could have laid 10 miles of track in 12 hours?”

Volpe’s remarks referenced some of the backbreaking and deadly work done on the Central Pacific by a labor force that was almost 90 percent Chinese, many of them migrants from China, ineligible to become U.S. naturalized citizens under federal law.

But the ceremony featured nothing more than a “passing mention of the Chinese.” The five minutes promised to the society never happened.

Choy and Chinn were incensed.

“Short of cussing at those people . I was beside myself,” Choy, who passed away in 2017, recalled during a 2013 interview.

This May, for the 150th anniversary, descendants of the Chinese railroad laborers and other advocates have been working hard to ensure history does not repeat itself. Among the events planned around the sesquicentennial is the 2019 Golden Spike Conference, organized by the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association, which will feature workshops, lectures, tours and a musical by Jason Ma entitled “Gold Mountain.”

“It is the best opportunity I will have in my lifetime to have this story shared, to have it understood and appreciated by people outside our community,” said Michael Kwan, the association’s president, whose great-great grandfather worked for the Central Pacific.

AN EXPERIMENT YIELDS SUCCESS

The Central Pacific broke ground on the first transcontinental railroad Jan. 8, 1863, and built east from Sacramento. The Union Pacific Railroad pushed west from Council Bluffs, Iowa (bordering Omaha), where their rails joined existing eastern lines. Acts of Congress provided both companies with land grants and financing.

The first transcontinental railroad became a boon to the economy of a nation recovering from a civil war, shaving significant travel time across the continent from several months to about a week. Produce and natural resources were among the things that could now be moved more quickly and cheaply from coast to coast.

It also generated tremendous wealth for railroad tycoons such as Leland Stanford, a former California governor who ran under an anti-Chinese immigrant platform. Stanford also served as president of the Central Pacific and later established the university that bears his name.

To grow its workforce, the Central Pacific took out an advertisement in January 1865 seeking 5,000 railroad laborers, but only a few hundred whites responded, according to “The Chinese and the Iron Road: Building the Transcontinental Railroad,” a book scheduled for release in April and edited by Gordon H. Chang and Shelley Fisher Fishkin, co-directors of the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford University.

Many whites who took the jobs did so for only a time, reluctant to shoulder the demanding and hazardous work expected of them. Eventually, they headed to the Nevada silver mines for better wages and the prospect of striking it rich, Hilton Obenzinger, the project’s associate director, said.

Facing a labor shortage, the railroad may have turned to recruiting Chinese at the suggestion of Central Pacific construction contractor Charles Crocker’s brother, E.B., a California Supreme Court justice and an attorney for the company. The Chinese had earlier worked on other California railroads as well as the Central Pacific in small numbers, according to the project.

But the plan hit opposition amid anti-Chinese sentiment that stemmed from the California Gold Rush. Among those initially against it was the Central Pacific construction supervisor, James H. Strobridge.

“He didn’t think they were strong enough,” Obenzinger told NBC News in a 2017 interview.

Strobridge also worried that the whites wouldn’t labor alongside the Chinese, who he thought lacked the brainpower to perform the work as well.

Eventually, he yielded and in 1865 the Central Pacific tested out 50 Chinese laborers. They were among the 50,000 to 60,000 Chinese living in California who arrived in the early 1850s to work in mining and other sectors of the American West, according to the project. They hailed from Sacramento, San Francisco and the gold-mining towns of the Sierra Nevada.

The success of the experiment led the Central Pacific to hire additional Chinese workers, but the Chinese labor pool in California soon ran out. So the company arranged with labor contractors to bring workers directly from China, mostly from Guangdong province in the south.

At the time, it was a region enmeshed in political and social turmoil, but residents there often had contact with foreigners and were less fearful of taking long ocean voyages, making them good recruits, according to Fishkin.

“And particularly for sons who were not the first sons in the families, it often made more sense to try to seek your fortune abroad,” Fishkin added.

By the end of July 1865, boatloads of Chinese were arriving in San Francisco. Less than two years later, almost 90 percent of the Central Pacific workforce was Chinese the rest were of European-American descent, mostly Irish. At its highest point, between 10,000 and 15,000 Chinese were working on the Central Pacific, with perhaps as many as 20,000 in total over time.

The Union Pacific, by contrast, had no Chinese laborers during the construction of the first transcontinental railroad. They instead relied on Civil War veterans and East Coast immigrants, among others, according to Chang.

THE LIVES THEY LIVED

“The Chinese and the Iron Road: Building the Transcontinental Railroad” and Chang’s separate book “Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad,” which is scheduled to be released in May, both describe the Chinese taking on some of the most dangerous, most exhausting assignments for less pay (and worse treatment) than their Euro-American counterparts.

Often toiling in extreme weather, they cleared obstructions, moved earth, bored tunnels and built retaining walls — work done virtually all by hand. They became experts in drayage, masonry, carpentry and track laying. Sometimes they were lowered off cliffs to plant explosive charges when blasting was necessary, knowing that once the fuse was lit the difference between life and death hinged on how fast they were brought back up.

But it wasn’t just the blasting that was dangerous.

“There were occasions when avalanches buried workers in snow and they weren’t found until the snow melted the following spring,” Fishkin said.

Since records of worker deaths weren’t kept, Stanford scholars don’t know precisely how many Chinese died building the railroad. They estimate there were hundreds, possibly more than a thousand.

Though they have discovered evidence that many workers were able to read and write in Chinese, Stanford researchers have found no letters or journals from them, perhaps because they were destroyed or not preserved during the ensuing social upheaval in China.

Despite this, the Chinese Railroad Workers Project has been able to glean insight into aspects of the laborers’ lives through their research.

They know, for instance, that the Chinese boiled water for tea, which helped stave off dysentery and other waterborne illnesses. They also know the men set up camps along the worksites, didn’t imbibe too much alcohol, worked well together, and sent money back to their families in China.

They even staged a strike in June 1867 demanding pay equal to whites, shorter workdays, and better working conditions, an action that helped counter the image that the Chinese were docile and wouldn’t fight for their rights.

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From tunneling through solid granite to laying down 10 miles of track in a day, the Chinese workers proved their mettle time and again.

Even Leland Stanford, whose anti-Chinese views were central to his gubernatorial campaign, changed his tune.

“He comes to have open respect for the abilities, the work ethic, the talents and the hard work, the industriousness of the Chinese,” Chang said.

But at times Stanford, who was later elected to the U.S. Senate, still resurrected certain anti-Chinese rhetoric when running for or in office, Chang noted.

“Stanford became one of the wealthiest men in the world because of their labor,” he said. “But there’s also lots of evidence to show that the Stanfords had an affection for many of the Chinese, especially in their employ. So it wasn’t just an exploitative relationship.”

A HISTORY ERASED, A HISTORY RECOVERED

After completing the first transcontinental railroad in 1869, Chinese laborers fanned out across the United States to work on at least 71 other rail lines, according to Fishkin.

This came amid rising anti-Chinese sentiment and violence in the U.S., as whites blamed the Chinese for squeezing them out of jobs by accepting work at lower wages.

Owing to white hostility, tens of thousands of Chinese were forced to leave the U.S. by 1882, according to “The Chinese and the Iron Road.” That same year, Congress responded by passing the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first and only major federal law to explicitly suspend immigration for a specific nationality. It wasn’t repealed until 1943.

It is the best opportunity I will have in my lifetime to have this story shared, to have it understood and appreciated by people outside our community.

Almost a quarter of a century later, in 1969, amid the backdrop of the civil rights movement, Choy and Chinn found themselves at Promontory Point, Utah, waiting for a moment that never came.

Since that day, advocates have continued working toward giving Chinese railroad laborers the recognition they deserve, in an effort to recover a period of history that connects China and the U.S.

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor inducted Chinese railroad workers into its Hall of Honor. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders elected to Congress in record numbers are among supporters of a House resolution to recognize the workers and their contributions. And a commemorative postage stamp in their honor has been proposed as well.

Há também o Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial Project, que arrecadou pelo menos 250 mil dólares para um monumento, e a Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association, cujos membros visitam escolas de Utah para ensinar as crianças sobre os trabalhadores chineses.

Até mesmo artistas, fotógrafos, jornalistas e acadêmicos da China, bem como acadêmicos de Taiwan e do Projeto de Trabalhadores das Ferrovias Chinesas de Stanford, mergulharam no assunto.

“Queremos ter certeza de que isso não acabará em 10 de maio”, disse Kwan, o presidente da associação de descendentes.

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