Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Emigrant trains

From: "Ken Kramer"

I am hoping you can help me find more information about [emigrant trains].

I am researching my husband's family, and according to a 1906 obituary they first came to Washington State in 1873. The obituary simply said they came across the country in 1873 first to San Francisco and then immediately on to Washington. They came from Iowa. I recently read a very short article that talked about the emigrant trains and I think the Davolt family probably traveled west on the train.

So far I have found just bits and pieces talking about these trains. I have become quite interested in finding out more about the history of this form of traveling west. We are so use to hearing about the wagon trains but I have never before heard of families coming west by train. Do you know where I can find more information on the emigrant trains?

—Sandy Kramer, Longview, Washington


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Kyle Wyatt"

For a description of life on emigrant trains, I would start with Robert Louis Stevenson's section of the "The Amateur Emigrant" that deals with his 1879 train trip across the US in emigrant cars – "Across the Plains" – available on line or in book form.

Be aware that in 1879 the Central Pacific had just introduced the new Emigrant Sleeping cars, which Stevenson boarded at Ogden. In 1873 the Central Pacific cars would have been very like the Union Pacific cars, which Stevenson describes in some detail.

(If you are interested, the first part of Stevenson's travels, emigrant ship across the Atlantic, it is recounted in "THE AMATEUR EMIGRANT: FROM

For a travel guide of what was along the railroad route, see Crofutt's Trans-Continental Tourist's Guide, 1872, available at the CPRR Museum website in both web page format, and searchable pdf.

Travel from San Francisco to Washington was likely by coastal steamer. ...

Kyle Wyatt
California State Railroad Museum

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum
111 "I" Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 324-7660

12/28/2005 9:19 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Bruce C. Cooper" BCC@CPRR.ORG

I think you may well find my current book, "Riding the Transcontinental Rails: Overland Travel on the Pacific Railroad 1865-1881" (see below), of interest. It contains a dozen first person accounts of riding on the CPRR and UPRR as well as over 100 engravings, eleven maps, and 32 pages of time tables and other “information for travellers.” (See also for further information.)

—Bruce C. Cooper

Now available! "Riding the Transcontinental Rails: Overland Travel on the Pacific Railroad 1865-1881" Compiled and Edited by Bruce C. Cooper – In addition to original new materials, within the 445 pages of this beautiful volume are the complete texts of twelve remarkable but hard-to-find "first person" accounts of coast-to-coast "Overland" travel on the then just recently completed (May, 1869) First Transcontinental Railroad. Written by some of the very best writers, journalists and adventurers of that era, most of of these gems of travel writing have been out of print for more than a century, and one especially thrilling accout has never before been published anywhere!   Profusely illustrated with almost 100 period engravings and 11 maps, the book also includes 32 pages of reproductions of original period timetables and other "Information for Travelers." Editor Bruce Cooper's great great grandfather was Lewis M. Clement who was Chief Assistant Engineer and Superintendent of Track of the CPRR from 1862 to 1881. Clement was largely responsible for much of the original location and construction engineering of the CPRR grade from Sacramento to Promontory Summit, UT. 445 pages;  $22.95 (+$4 S&H by USPS Priority Mail).
To order or for more information please visit

12/28/2005 9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See related discussion.

5/13/2014 1:25 AM  

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