Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Central Pacific Railroad and the Legend of Cape Horn

From: "Guy Daugherty"

Mr. Strobridge:

I've just read your article about Cape Horn, and the abuses of historians. I found it to be absolutely fascinating, and wanted to thank you for the depth and accuracy of your efforts. It's interesting to hear odd scratchings in the background when told certains historical "facts," only to find when a bright light is shone upon them that there were mice in the works after all. I'm an Adolph Sutro fan, and had heard some similar distortions while listening to the docents during open house days after his Tunnel's portal had been restored.

You have my admiration and appreciation.

—Guy Daugherty


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hooray for Stro! G J Chris Graves, MP #31, NewCastle

7/16/2006 3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "Bruce Lodge"

I just wanted to send a note to thank [Edson Strobridge] for [his] piece on Cape Horn. It's a fascinating account of the "legend" of Cape Horn.

I'm currently reading the Ambrose account of the transcontinental railroad. While reading histories of the American west I often have a map at hand in order to follow along with the course of events. The descriptions of Cape Horn construction included in the Ambrose book were pretty amazing, causing me to want to find it on the map, and visit in person someday. In fact I now have a long list of places along the route of the CP that I would like to visit, such as Bloomer Cut to name just one more.

While doing research online regarding the location of the Cape and the Cut I came across the website of the CPRR Photographic History Museum wherein I came across your piece on the myth of Cape Horn. I have never read such a piece of investigative history and found it quite revealing and wonderfully fascinating to read. Thank you so much!

But alas I find myself rather disillusioned as a result of your research. I have read many of Ambrose's WWII histories and have come to enjoy his work. His name on the cover of "Nothing Like It In The World" was motivation enough to buy the book. I often call myself an "amateur historian", but perhaps the truth is more accurately a history buff. Either way I read a lot of accounts of western US history and am inclined to believe that what I see on the page is the "truth". I have long since given up that inclination when it comes to broadcast and print news, especially that found online, and am seriously skeptical of all that content. But I realize now that I have never applied the same skepticism when reading the literature of our history. I guess I have come to hold books in higher esteem than "news". Now that seems quite naive of me. I've come to respect Ambrose over the years, but now I wonder to what degree even he can be trusted. I also wonder how much of the details of his WWII accounts were heresay, embellishments, and or outright fabrications?

Many years ago, while in college, I did a "research" paper on Chief Seattle, who was credited as having said "What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected." Well, I discovered that over the many decades, a lot of myth and legend had built up around the Chief and his speech and just what he actually said and when he said it. To the point where the "truth" of the matter was not nearly as clear and concise as popular media and culture had made it out to be while co-opting his words to support various agendas. Apparently I forgot that lesson over the subsequent years, only to be reminded again, through your piece on the Cape, that the truth is often shrouded in myth and legend, or is apt to be completely reshaped by someone's imagination. I tend to trust "history professors" or professional "historians"; in part perhaps because of their titles. You sir have helped me remember to be a little less inclined to accept at face value that which I read of our nation's history. ...

—Bruce Lodge, Tuolumne CA

10/04/2013 7:39 PM  

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