Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Question: Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Road

From: "Edward L Hodges" ehodges@ix.netcom.com

Hello to CPRR Researchers — I am Ed Hodges, a retired teacher from San Jose, who is searching for documents related to the construction of the Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Road. My current research is focused on two aspects of the old road. The newspaper and book reference (High Road to Promontory) that I have found, indicate that minor construction was begun in 1862, with Dr. Strong of Dutch Flat in charge. Then in October of ' 63, Strong was removed from his job — apparently by Charles Crocker, and Robert H. Pratt became director of construction. According to George Kraus's book, it was under Pratt's direction that the wagon road was completed to Verdi/Crystal Peak in June of 1864. The trouble with Kraus's statement is that it is not backed up with a reference. I have not been able to find any newspaper clipping referring to this significant job assignment. I am searching for Charles Crocker's papers — the ones that connect him to the DFDLWR — but the only thing I have found so far is a one page document at the Stanford Green Library — it was dated June 1864, singed by C. Crocker, President of DFDLWR Co. What I want to find is hard evidence connecting Mr. Pratt to the wagon road in 1863. Thanks to Mr. Strobridge who sent me a copy of Robert H. Pratt's testimony in the 1915 Southern Pacific-Central Pacific Railroad "Unmerger Case," I found out that Pratt was officially hired onto the CPRR in March 1865. I believe that Pratt had been hired two years earlier to finish the wagon road as an employee of the DFDLWR Company (as stated by Kraus). I would like to find documentation to support Mr. Kraus's claim.

My second topic is the question of how much road construction was done by the DFDLWR in the Dog Valley area. I have a newspaper clipping from the Sacramento Union dated July 11, 1864 (p3/c4) that clearly gives credit to the DFDLWR for making the improvements in the old Henness Pass Turnpike Road. Unfortunately, the article ends its description of road improvements at the top of Dog Hill, First Summit. I would like to know if the dirt road we see there today following the creek to Verdi was built by the DFDLWR Company or by the earlier Henness Pass/Truckee Turnpike Company.