Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Railroad survey question

From: gwolfgang@cc.usu.edu

I am working on a project that will map the presettlement vegetation in Northern Utah. I am interested in looking at the rail road surveys for the Golden Spike area. I have been able to locate the initial surveys that explored for a route, but I am interested in viewing the surveys that were done once the line had been selected. Do you know were those surveys would be located for Utah. Thanks,

Greg Wolfgang
Master of Landscape Architecture Candidate
Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

5 Comments:

Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Randy Hees" hees@rcn.com

While there may be other documents elsewhere, the bulk of the original information on the original locations for any land grant railroad will be found at the National Archive in College Park Maryland, just outside Washington DC. The information is indexed generally under "records of the Department of the Interior." Included are correspondence between the office of the Secretary of the Interior and the railroad (separate files for incoming and outgoing), inspection reports (describing the railroad and particularly the bridges in detail), annual reports and maps. Other information can be found in files of other departments, but this takes longer and is more obscure.

The maps vary from site to site, but typically cover at least 20 track miles and sometimes much more. They can be as large as 4' x 50'. There was a map submitted as each section was completed, and inspected prior to release of land grants and mortgage bonds. (These are the most reliable, and the most commonly found.) There are additional maps which were used to reserve lands prior to construction (preemption) and occasionally other maps as various special inspections were done.

In the Promontory area you may not find maps for the duplicative rights of way graded prior to the designation of a meeting point, but never built on, since no bonds or land was issued for these rights of way, only for finished accepted track.

Unfortunatly it will probably require a trip to College Park to view the maps.

Randy Hees

6/22/2005 8:44 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

There also may be survey maps filed with the county, land office, recorders office, or state archive, or CPRR company maps, like these California and Nevada maps:
Dutch Flat Wagon Road
BLM
California Survey Maps
Nevada Survey Maps
Wadsworth Nevada Map
Reno Nevada Map
Nevada Survey Maps
Montague's Sierra Survey Map
Judah's Map

6/22/2005 11:18 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Wendell Huffman" wendellhuffman@hotmail.com

Greg, Good question. And the short answer is that I do not know where the compnay commissioned surveys are. But, I doubt they would help much.

The old texts on railroad surveying identify three classes of surveys: the preliminary reconnaisance, a location survey, and a construction survey. Only the preliminary reconnaisance is very concerned with the general character of the country – which almost always included some account of what was growing in the area – as an indication of whether marketable crops could be grown and whether timber was available for railroad ties and bridges. The location survey was primarily concerned with determining where to place the least amount of track necessary to get between any two points within the confines of ruling grade and curvature. The construction surveys staked the areas to be cut, and the areas for the removed material to be dumped. The company surveys you seek will be of the latter two types.

The one good note – should you find them – is that both the Central Pacific and Union Pacific ran surveys across Utah.

However, I think you would find the most information relating to native vegitation in the various surveys of Stansbury, Lander, and Beckwith. Gunnison's survey crossed much Utah before he was killed, and the report of that survey was included in Beckwith's report. However, Gunnison wrote his own account of his experience with Stansbury's survey. There is also a report by Heap – I believe – who accompanied Beal across the "central" route shortly after Gunnison-Beckwith. Having read Beckwith's report I do know that he mentions in some detail the forestation in the head of San Luis valley and the "interminable" sage to the west. While Gunnison-Beckwith and Heap crossed generally along just to the south of the highway 50 route, Beckwith did run a recon north of Salt Lake City and east into southwest Wyoming – country covered as well by Lander and Stansbury.

One other source of information might be emigrant journals from the Oregon and Utah pioneers.

Wendell Huffman

6/22/2005 11:22 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

"At this season this valley is supplied with a growth of green grass which occasionally forms a sward, but is generally thinly scattered over the surface among the varieties of artemisia known as sage and greasewood."
EXPLORATIONS AND SURVEYS FOR A RAILROAD ROUTE FROM THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER TO THE PACIFIC OCEAN. WAR DEPARTMENT. REPORT OF EXPLORATIONS FOR A ROUTE FOR THE PACIFIC RAILROAD, ON THE LINE OF THE FORTY-FIRST PARALLEL OF NORTH LATITUDE.
BY LIEUT. E. G. BECKWITH, THIRD ARTILLERY. 1854. CHAPTER II.


sward
NOUN:
1. Land covered with grassy turf. 2. A lawn or meadow.

6/22/2005 11:46 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: DSnoddy@aol.com

Actually the surveyors reports would be better than the surveys themselves. The topographical books don't give much if any information about the vegetation, but the annual reports of the chief engineer, which include the reports of the various engineering parties, at least give a brief hint and the quality of the areas traversed.

6/22/2005 2:55 PM  

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