From: "Chris Graves" email@example.com
I have four letters from the Huntington Records Collection that speak of smallpox on the grade ... here are excerpts that are of interest:
From E B Crocker, dated Jan. 23, 1869:
"........Small Pox (cases?) are abated and I think from this time on we ought to be able to send a largely increased quantity (of wood) and ties to the front...."
From E B Crocker, dated Jan. 28, 1869:
".....the small pox scare is over...."
From E B Crocker, dated March 16, 1869:
".....our track laying force were seized with a small pox (---?) the other day and became demoralized to a great extent no real cause for apprehension, but you can't reason with such men—no one has broken out lately, so we hope it will soon pass over."
January 20, 1869, from Charles Crocker:
"....the small pox completely [immobilized] our track laying force and they could not have laid much more if they had it—as very nearly all the white men left the work and most of our best foremen also. We are breaking in the Chinese and learning them as fast as possible.........." and then ".......in the midst of trouble Stro (----?) sick with a very bad cold and afraid it was the small pox as the symptoms are very similiar. Men running off scared out of their senses. Two cases of small pox among the wood choppers at Elko-thermometer at 10° below zero..."
From Mark Hopkins, January 31, 1869:
".... The small pox is abating at the end of the track—only one new case there last week, nearly all that died went into the pest cars, those that did not die increased the panic among the men more than those who died and "told no tales."
Oakland Daily News, January 19, 1869.
Small-Pox on the Railroad.
We take the following from the Virginia Safeguard of January 11th :
This terrible disease seems to have been scattered along the entire length of the railroad, there being scarcely a station from Sacramento to Elko that does not boast of from one to three cases. At Elko, Tracy, the husband of Mrs. Tracy and the father of Miss Helen Tracy, both celebrated actresses, was taken down a few days ago, and subsequently removed to Fort Halleck for medical treatment. Several other cases are reported in the vicinity of the terminus of the road and at Argenta, Winnemucca and Wadsworth. At Reno they have three cases one at Truckee, four at Dutch Flat, and as many more each about Colfax and Auburn. The disease, however, thus far, has not proved fatal along the line of the railroad, except in a very few instances.
Courtesy of Wendell Huffman.