Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Surveying the first transcontinental railroad

From: "Erica Brandt"

I was researching the Transcontinental railway to use as an illustration. Basically how the two sides needed to come together, and if they were one degree off over time, would not have met in the middle.

But I can't find any details on line detailing the actually engineering/mapping of how the two sides were able to meet at the same place on May 10.

I have read that they were only working miles apart as they got closer, but could you point me to anything detailing how they actually mapped it to come together? ...

—Erica Brandt

Travel in 1873

From: "Bryan Lamkin"

I am working on an article/biography of an Irish immigrant who traveled from West County Cork to Carson City Nevada in 1873. I am looking for "best guesses" about route and fares. Any help or advice you could provide would be greatly appreciated. I have included my draft of the travel section. Thanks!

It is difficult to know for sure his itinerary to Carson City, the only clues being his departure from New Jersey and newspaper reports at the time of his death that mentioned coming from Missouri. Assuming that he did get to Carson via Missouri, a possible itinerary would have looked something like the following. From New York he would have traveled as a second- or third-class passenger on the Pennsylvania Railroad, departing for Pittsburgh via Jersey City and Philadelphia at 5 p.m. on April 21 and arriving in Pittsburgh at 9:40 a.m. on April 22. From Pittsburgh he would have connected with a Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railroad car headed for St. Louis. Assuming he caught the 2:15 p.m. train, that would have put him in St. Louis by mid-evening on the 23rd. A late evening St. Louis, Kansas City & Northern Railway connection would have him arriving in Kansas City by 9:30 a.m. on the 24th. Next, he would have headed to Denver on the Kansas Pacific line, but would have had to wait until the next morning at 9:45 a.m., and over thirty hours later, at 6:30 in the evening on the 26th, he would have reached the mile high city. The following afternoon at 1:15 p.m., he would have boarded a Denver Pacific train headed to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and arrived in that city at 10:15 p.m. After another overnight stay in Cheyenne, he would have boarded the Union Pacific train for Reno, getting to the biggest little city in the world just after midnight on April 29. It would have been possible for him to catch a 1:55 a.m. Virginia and Truckee Railroad train to Carson City, which would have him arriving at his final destination at 3:40 in the morning, April 30, 1873, after a journey of eight days. Considering the number of connections, the regular and inevitable delays for train travel in that period, the sheer exhaustion Hurley must have felt, and the fact that in the only “biography” of Hurley, an entry in James Scrugham’s biographical section of his history of Nevada, the author notes that Denis Hurley arrived in Carson City in May, it is doubtful the trip took only nine days.

My footnotes concerning fares:

PA RR, Jersey City to Pittsburgh: 444 miles at .03/mile = $13.32;
Pittsburgh to St. Louis = ?;
St. L, KC & N RR, St. Louis to KC: 275 @ .035/mi = $9.63;
KS Pacific, KC to Denver: 639 miles at ;
Denver Pacific, Denver to Cheyenne: 106 miles at .01/mile = $1.06;
UP/CP, Cheyenne to Ogden/Ogden to Reno (589 miles): 1102 miles at ? = ?

—Bryan Lamkin, Professor of History, Director of General Education, Azusa Pacific University