Wednesday, May 06, 2009

CPRR surveys

From: "C. Barton Crattie"

What source(s) would you recommend dealing with the actual surveys (crews, methods, lore, etc) for the CPRR? There is alot of general information but I haven't found anything in detail.

—Bart Crattie, Land Surveyor


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Don Snoddy"

I would try the annual reports of the chief engineer. There should be breakdowns of all the various survey parties. Once you get the names, then I'd begin searching for those whose archival papers might be somewhere. All the field notebooks contain only survey information. No daily logs etc. Whatever comments the surveyors made were in the form of reports to the chief engineer or letters to family.

Don Snoddy

5/06/2009 11:52 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

What little information survives most likely would be in government and company reports at the time.

There were few autobiographies and not much technical information, so we suspect that most of the details that you would like to know were never written down.

"HENRY ROOT, Surveyor, Engineer and Inventor. Personal History and Reminiscences with Personal Opinions on Contemporary Events, 1845-1921." Printed for Private Circulation, San Francisco, California, 1921.

"Reminiscenses of Alexander Toponce [1839-1923]" Autobiography at age 80, c. 1919.

Vose, "Manual for Railroad Engineers," 1883.

Engineering report on the Tunnels.



Other primary sources, including the surviving CPRR payroll records at the California State Railroad Museum.

5/06/2009 12:08 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


Some other field surveyors/engineers material are in:

Copies of Frederick Hodge’s field notebooks are in the Union Pacific Collection, Union Pacific Museum, Council Bluffs, Iowa

A copy of Samuel Reed’s 1865 field journal is in the UP Museum

CP chief engineer Samuel Montague collection, Special Collections, Stanford University Library.

Of course Grenville M. Dodge, How We Built the Union Pacific Railway and Other Railway Papers and Addresses (Denver: Sage Books, 1965), passimis the bible but if you dig deep you'll find he fudged a bit on the tale. Dodge in his 1869 engineer’s report published as an Senate Executive document noted on page 10, "we adopted the eighty-feet grade line, the location of which was readjusted, finished, and turned over to the construction department. For some reason the grading at this point was not commenced until February, 1869." (My italics—Dodge knew why the changes were made). In this official published report, Dodge did not write about the 80’ line’s abandonment by Durant and the construction of a much steeper and unsafe railroad grade, just that he passed the survey over to the construction crews. Dodge's words influenced later writers about the high quality of UP construction (at first), which it was not.

Dodge and Frederick Hodge affidavits, March 1869 on construction survey are in Union Pacific Railroad Collection, Nebraska Historical Society, Lincoln

Field surveyor Morris sent nearly daily reports to Dodge, which are reproduced in Grenville Dodge, "Autobiography," Council Bluffs, Iowa Public Library. The autobiography is a compilation of transcripts of letters to and from Dodge.

Warren report manuscript is at the Western History Collection, Denver Public Library – Warren was sent by Congress to check the survey of the two lines

Hezikiah Bissel, “Recollections,” Wyoming State Library and Archives, Cheyenne.

Samuel H. Chittenden to Mother, May 19, 1868, Ft. Bridger, "The Chittenden Correspondence," La Posta: A Journal of American Postal History (April 1984), is one of a great series of letters by a field surveyor in Wyoming and Utah.

Leonard Eicholtz diary, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming shows the boys were also into land speculation as they surveyed the line.

C. H. Sharman, "Tales from the Old-Timers – No. 24," Union Pacific Magazine (October 1925), p. 6. is the reminiscence of the guy who placed the pin flags in the grade survey as it moved west.

You might want to talk with Lynn Farrar, former chief [valuation] engineer of the Southern Pacific Railroad ...

—Bob Spude – Historian – Cultural Resources Management – National Park Service – Intermountain Region – 505.988.6770 Voice – 505.988.6876 Fax

The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.

5/06/2009 3:34 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "C. Barton Crattie"

Thanks for the suggestions.

5/06/2009 3:43 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Don Snoddy"

The more research is done the more Dodge seemed to very much enjoy outliving and outlying his life. Because his handwriting is so bad no one seems to want to go to Des Moines and use his original correspondence files. It seems fairly clear that when Lincoln was in Council Bluffs in 1859 Dodge wasn't, but you wouldn't know it to read the autobiography. ...


5/06/2009 11:22 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


The California State Railroad Museum has the original Central Pacific RR vouchers, which detail all the purchases of equipment and supplies, plus the billed time for the individual employees in the various survey parties, for the surveying. There is a great deal of information that could be extracted from this source about the surveying.

There are also various accounts and memoirs written by several members of survey crews over the years. Some are written shortly after events occurred; others were written in much later years.

—Kyle Wyatt

5/07/2009 6:29 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Wendell Huffman"

Richard V. Francaviglia's Over the Range: A History of the Promontory Summit Route of the Pacific Railroad has some wonderful excerpts from surveyor's James Henry Martineau's journal.


5/08/2009 5:36 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Wendell Huffman"

The typical CPRR approach would have been to allow a private individual to erect and operate the facility on railroad property – all on a handshake. There has been some discussion of that on the CPRR Discussion Group, and a description of that process in one of the "memoir" material provided by Lynn Farrar.

5/08/2009 5:43 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


What facility is "the facility?"

And what does the above statement have to do with the original question about early railroad surveys?

—John Sweetser

5/08/2009 5:48 PM  

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