Monday, August 06, 2007

Security During the RR's Construction


I'm interested in knowing about the security measures the RR implemented during its construction. Did it need security personnel to guard the infrastructure and keep the workers in line?

—Johnny Luo


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


I believe the "security infrastructure" was less about keeping workers in line (the Chinese workers' own organizational structures under Chinese crew bosses pretty much covered any issues there), and more about blocking the White camp followers who made the Union Pacific "Hell on Wheels" towns such death traps for their workers.  And it didn't take much Central Pacific "security infrastructure" for that.  The railroad simply refused to provide transportation for such folk, and any that arrived anyway were quickly "encouraged" to depart by a deputation from the Central Pacific Railroad.  In fact, so far as I have ever heard, there was no organized "security infrastructure" as such during construction.  Apparently the Union Pacific didn't have any either, which in their case may have contributed to their problems in the towns.

The primary danger to infrastructure on the Transcontinental Railroad came from the hostile Indian tribes in Nebraska and Wyoming along the Union Pacific.  The railroad did, after all, threaten their way of life.  The US Army was active in that case, although railroad tracks and telegraph lines were wrecked, trains derailed, and workers killed.  The Central Pacific faced no such problems in the territory where they built.  The tribes were not at war.  In fact the Central Pacific employed many Indians in the construction work across Nevada, along with the Chinese.  The US Army did not provide "security" to the Central Pacific the way they did to the Union Pacific.


8/06/2007 9:35 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Larry Mullaly"

By happenstance, I found the following piece in some material I gathered this week. Were I a Union Pacific scholar, this would open a major question as to the degree in which a rather small US military establishment was involved in protecting the construction forces on the eastern end of the transcontinental railroad.

New York Herald, January 6, 1869

Troops Engaged in the Indian War

In compliance with the Senate resolution of the 14th ultimo [December, 1868] the Secretary of War today transmitted to the Senate a statement as to the number of United States troops employed in connection with the Indian hostilities in protecting the Missouri River trails and the Union Pacific Railroad and otherwise policing that region of the country of which the following is a recapitulation:

Number of regular troops employed in guarding and policing the frontier, 10,001; operating against the Indians and policing the frontier 6824; operating against the Indians 2,119; guarding the Union Pacific Railroad and policing the frontier; guarding the Union Pacific Railroad 405; guarding the traffic on the Missouri River 1362; operating against the Indians and guarding the Union Pacific Railroad 3553. Total regular troops 25,601; add volunteer troops, 1,213 – aggregate, 26,814.

8/12/2007 6:39 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


That is a great little piece. Good find. 

Now if we can just find some more sources that appear to give concrete info on aspects of the UP - and CP - construction we might begin to get some real understanding.


8/12/2007 6:42 PM  

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