Sunday, July 06, 2014

UPRR contractor Lewis D. Carmichael

From: "Suzy Spafford"

My great-great grandfather was Lewis D. Carmichael. He was a contractor working on the first transcontinental railroad, during the years 1865 (I believe) to the completion ("DONE!") 1869. His family lived in Omaha, Nebraska, at the time. He is/was cited for the work he did, especially on Sherman Hill in Southeastern Wyoming, and Devil's Creek area in Southwestern Wyoming, and also the canyons of Northern Utah. From what I have read, he hired around 50 or more workers who moved mountains a shovelful at a time. Unbelievable. The historical articles state that connecting the continent by rail was, at that time, as significant a feat as Columbus discovering America. I've been looking for as much on the subject as possible, to see images of what they called the "Carmichael Cuts."

In showing their appreciation for his accomplishment, Carmichael's friends, co-workers and associates on the railroad pitched in and gave him a huge set of silver from Tiffany & Co. out of New York. Our family (my father) has the elegant soup tureen and ladle. I personally have some spoons that trickled down to me – true treasures. I wonder if other contractors at that time were also given similar gifts? The centerpiece of the whole set was a huge tray that depicted 4 scenes featuring Carmichael cuts at Sherman Hill, Wyoming, Devil's Creek, Wyoming, the Canyons of Utah, and I cannot make out what the 4th one is –perhaps Promontory Point (looking at a picture I saw on the internet). I was informed that that tray is now in the possession of a private collector. With the Union Pacific Sesquicentennial coming up, it would be great to come and visit the museum which I plan to do, and would be SO good to know what happened to the rest of the silver. It would be great to be able to see it all, and to learn more of the story. Lewis had 9 children. A middle daughter was Agnes Carmichael who married John Hunt Spafford. Her son was Larry A. Spafford of Perrysburg, Ohio, and his son is my father, John L. Spafford. There were 8 living children in Lewis's family, and each must have received something special from that original collection. And they all had kids. I hope to know more about Lewis Carmichael, and of the work he did, and I hope my distant Carmichael cousins eventually read this and share any stories they know, too. ...

—Suzy Spafford Lidstrom, San Diego, California

Lewis D. Carmichael
Lewis D. Carmichael

Louis Carmichael verso

tureen emblem

Silver Tiffany

Ladle detail



Tureen bottom marks

Sterling marks

Spoon Monogram
Images courtesy of Suzy Spafford Lidstrom.