Monday, April 30, 2007



How did the connection of the transcontinental railroad impact agriculture and how much did the import and export go up by the use of this? I am the State FFA President of Nevada and I have to do a reflections piece on this subject and I can't find any literature on it so I was hoping you could help me.

—Jake Baker, Fallon, Nevada

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Summit Tunnel

From: "Edward L Hodges"

I was hiking over Donner Pass yesterday and came across the bronze plaque commemorating the Summit Tunnel project. I looked around in all directions and wondered why the engineers decided to tunnel through so much rock when there appeared to be an alternative. The alternative, to me, seemed to be to add a few extra loops to the route to gain the needed elevation to cross the summit without the need for a tunnel. Would you direct me to the appropriate link which explains why the engineers chose to spend so much time, money, and material to save 125 feet in elevation?

—Ed Hodges, San Jose

Track Plans

From: "Erik Beyer"

I was raised in Carlin, Nevada and my father worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad. I am working on an HO gauge model railroad layout and would like to model three sections of the Southern Pacific tracks.

I am interested in the Carlin, Nevada yard, the tracks through Palisade and the rock quarry in Palisade, Nevada and the area of the Reno, Nevada yard where the Virginia/Truckee Railroad tracks came together with the Southern Pacific tracks. I am not able to find any plans of any of the rails between Ogden, Utah and Sacramento, California.

Can you be of any assistance in locating the track plans for these three locations?

—Erik Beyer, Reno, Nevada

Jobs - Pay

From: "John/LaDonna Norjen"

What did the American workers on the Transcontinental Railroad get paid? What jobs could the American workers do that the Chinese couldn't do?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Transcontinental Railroad Passenger Lists; First railroad train to San Francisco


My great grandfather Samuel George Sloan came out on the first railroad train to San Francisco, California. I was wondering if you might advise me on how to further research this and maybe where to find passenger lists?

You have a wonderful site!

—Janet M. LaWall

Sunday, April 22, 2007

... Port Huron ...

"... Port Huron ..." by MIKE CONNELL, © Times Herald, Port Huron, MI, April 22, 2007. (News Article)

"... Hopkins died in 1878 and left much of his fortune to his brother, Samuel, and to Samuel's son, Mark Jr., who helped organize the Diamond Crystal Salt Co. and developed two resort hotels, Somerville Springs and the Oakland. The latter burned in 1915. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Friday, April 20, 2007

UPRR employee in Utah, Thomas B. Morris

... Any info on a UPRR employee in Utah named Thomas B. Morris. He seems to have been quite a wheeler-dealer ... trying to cut deals with Patterson and Miller for contracts for beef and flour. ...

Robert Louis Stevenson in 1879


A friend recently gave me a request. As many of you know, Robert Louis Stevenson crossed the country by train in 1879, and wrote of his experiences in The Amateur Emigrant.

From the East Coast Stevenson appears to have ridden a mixture of regular trains, riding in coach, and emigrant trains. In Omaha he boarded a UP emigrant car, transferring to a new CP emigrant sleeper at Ogden.

My friend (who is not on the internet) is interested in a dated chronology of the trip and its stops, copies of schedules that show the trains, and locating photos and other pictures of stops along the way. For starters, I think illustrations from Leslie's trip of two years earlier should provide some good info and pictures.

Anybody interested in taking it on? It would seem a fine addition to the CPRR web site as well.


Promontory Hotel order for Beer.
Order for Beer:
Office of T.G. Brown, Dealer in Groceries, Cigars and Tobacco, Boots and Shoes. Proprietor Promontory Railroad Hotel, 1876.
Courtesy G.J. Graves Collection.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Pacific Railroad Surveys

From: "Kevin Bill",

After cleaning out "Mother's attic," I have in my possession a copy of what seems to be Volume 4 of Lieutenant A.W. Whipple's Corp of Topographical Engineers report to the 33rd congress dated 1856. It contains many botanical illustrations as well as astronomical and climatological observations.

I ... would appreciate any information on this book and if many copies still exist.

—Kevin S. Bill

Posters recruiting Chinese for Railroad

From: "Kristine Deacon"

Do you have any posters, in Chinese, that were used in China to recruit workers to work on the railroad?

—Kristine Deacon

High Sierras

From: "Jerry Kirkegaard"

First let me say what an outstanding website, simply awesome. I can not begin to imagine the time spent to put all this together.

I have spent the last two nights trying to find a moment in time that is still pressed into my memory from some forty years ago.

While driving to Northern California on SR 395 we decided catch SR 89 to follow through the High Sierras north to Tahoe on to Truckee and back down to Reno. While enjoying this scenic route some where I remember coming to a little town the name I can not remember, but I recall two trains a trestle(s) and tunnel(s) in what one may call a gorge. The tracks were at different elevations may have been to lessen the grade? My field of view seamed very narrow and as I was driving it was soon out of view.

I have been all over your website but you have so much information there and not knowing where to look I thought some one might know of what I am trying to remember. Something that just came back to me is that I was passed by a pickup truck which was marked CATERPILLAR OF SACRAMENTO and he was really going fast and turned of on a different road??? I also followed the Southern Pacific tracks from truckee down to Sacramento using an online TOPO map with no avail. It is possible I may have been on the other side of Truckee. Thanks.

Best Regards,

Jerry Kirkegaard

P.S. I wish I had been a engineer, I think in a past life I was. Years ago when I tried I was told they were only hiring women and tried to get my wife to go into Los Angeles for a interview.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Where Was Strowbridge?

From: "Larry Mullaly"

I am finding that much of the construction work of the San Joaquin Valley RR and the early Southern Pacific both in the San Joaquin Valley and on the the lines south of Gilroy was subcontracted to the Turton & Knox Company rather than J.H. Strowbridge.

I believe that Strowbridge help build the "Oregon Road" to Red Bluff, but he seems idles for some of the time until summer of 1873 when he replaces Hyde in Southern California to build 50 miles of track.

Can anyone help fill in the picture?

—Larry Mullaly

Friday, April 13, 2007

Two engines at the Omaha museum

From: "Rand E. Renner"

How did ... those two engines ... get ... up on that hill at the Omaha museum?

—Rand E.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Question: Negative impacts on Utah


What were some negative impacts on Utah from the transcontinental railroad?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Cram's 1897 Standard Railway Atlas

I've got one of these. What is it worth? Should I cut it up an sell it page by page?



Sunday, April 08, 2007

Benjamin Welch, Master Car Builder

From: "Thomas Lifschutz"

My great-grand uncle is Benjamin Welch. I don't know much more than you insofar as what you have published. My mother Barbara (WELCH) Lifschutz is still alive as is my father, Joseph Lifschutz. I have copied this message to my father (and sister) in the hopes that they may have some more info for you. My mother does not use email and I will talk to her in person.

FYI. I am traveling next month back to Peaks Island, Maine an early residence of Benjamin or at least his father.

—Thomas Lifschutz, Portland, Oregon


I have several questions in regards to the transcontinental railroad for my nephew's report.

Thank You


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Iron Costs, 1871-1874

From: Larry Mullaly

I have been working on construction costs for the SP during the period 1871-1874. Would anyone know what 56 or 60 pound iron rail was selling for during this period? I have a reference from Strobridge that the cost of rail for the CP was as high as $130 a ton during the building of the transcontinental road, but that this was much higher than it cost at later time.

I guess, while I am at it, I should also request figures on spikes and fishplates.

Any help would be appreciated.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Insular digital history

Responding to our invitation to link to the CPRR Museum website, a digital history graduate student participating in a project to create a website "intended for teachers/students to use as an Internet resource to learn about American history" writes:
We are trying to avoid linking to outside sources, and instead are trying to create an internal database.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Norman Tutorow

"Correct this historian if he's wrong – which he never is" by Blair Anthony Robertson, © Sacramento Bee, April 4, 2007. (News Article)

"Patiently hunting and pecking his way toward the truth, Norman Tutorow prodigiously succeeds in setting the record straight ... Tutorow has amassed a very large reputation among a very small number of people for writing history – not just writing it but correcting it, retelling it and altogether fixing history. ..." [More]

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Headline writers strike

Cape Horn [Lecture, Auburn, California 4-6-2007]

From: "Chris Graves"

A good friend of the real history of the CPRR, Jack Duncan, will be giving a speech on the construction of Cape Horn on Friday, April 6, 2007, at noon at the Auburn, California Library.

Jack has put many many hours into this speech; it promises to be a winner.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Buffalo Hunters - Hasenzahl connection

From: "Bob Breen"

I came across the information about your great grandfather Wilhelm and while I doubt if there is any direct connection, I was wondering if you had any information about the Hasenzahl family in Germany, which might be a match.  

My great grandmother is Elizabeth Hasenzahl, who we believe was born in Frankfurt about 1854, moved to Alsheim, which we think is the actual family home and migrated to New York in 1873. She had two younger brothers, Henry Carl Hasenzahl and John Hasenzahl, who were born in Alsheim and migrated to New York in the 1880’s – both were barbers. There’s a possibility of another brother – Joseph – and a sister Catharina.  Their parents were Johan Michael Hasenzahl and Maria Catharina Dutine Hasenzahl.  

If any of this makes a connection I would be interested.  

—Bob Breen

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Repairs of Second Track Underway

Repairs are underway to recover from the recent fire that destroyed the double track Sacramento River wooden trestle and disrupted transcontinental rail traffic. The superb crews of the Union Pacific have rebuilt a single track bridge in record time, allowing partial restoration of service, but in order to accomodate the heavy rail traffic over the Sierras, all westbound Amtrak trains will temporarily be diverted from the regular Sacramento station to instead stop at the California State Railroad Museum platform used under more normal circumstances for museum visitor train rides. This will continue until the work underway to reopen the track through the retired original summit tunnel (#6) can be completed allowing east and westbound trains to operate simultaneously.

Officials interviewed by the Times explained that the State intends to maximize utilization of historic resources in its emergency preparedness planning. This approach will also be utilized in Southern California next month when the long delayed seismic retrofit project will necessitate the temporary closure of all freeways in Los Angeles, and use of the Pacific Electric Red Cars in their place using rubberized steel wheels to allow the older cars to operate on surface streets.

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