I read much of your commentary on Ambrose's book and found it very insightful. I'm working on a film tentatively titled Steam in the Sierra: Nature of the Central Pacific Railroad the goal of which is to put the Central Pacific in the context of the Natural History of the Sierra Nevada. (One of my helpers, Mr. Epstein, sent some photographs he took on one of our shoots to tunnel 6 which are included on CPRR.org site.)
It's clear the reed basket story is a myth. We videotaped a segment there, and baskets, explosives and granite are preposterous. The Chief Engineer's report does say "the construction of the Road around this point will involve much heavy work, though the material encountered is not of a very formidable character, being a soft friable slate, which yields readily to the pick or bar. The dip of the ledge is about seventy-five degrees, or nearly perpendicular;" The use of the phrase "nearly perpendicular" probably accounts for much of the imagination of writers.
I plan to show a rough cut of the film in the San Francisco Bay area in about 6 month and would like to extend an invitation to individuals associated with CPRR.org to attend. ...
—Bill Levinson, Alpha Spectrum Productions