Central Pacific 1866 (Letter)
I am researching a man who traveled the Central Pacific from Sacramento to its terminus around October 18-22, 1866. Do I assume correctly that the end of the line at that time was at Alta? His destination was Sierraville. Would he have taken a stage the remainder of the trip?
In a letter to family back in Michigan, this man wrote that "The train on the Central Pacific R.R. proceeding to climb the Sierra Nevada mountains ran off the track on a sheer precipice, but the coaches and passengers did not follow the engine 90 feet down the abyss." I am skeptical about this account, since it seems to me that if the engine went down into the abyss then the other cars would have followed. Certainly they wouldn't have come loose very easily. Am I correct about my assumption or would the cars have remained on the track?
Also, if what he says is accurate, then there would have to be another engine brought in to take the cars along their way. I would also assume this would have been newsworthy, but I cannot find any account of such an incident reported in the area newspapers of that time.
I would appreciate knowing your assessment of this man's account, since your organization would be much more familiar with the CPRR of that era than I. If you feel it is possibly a true account, do you have any suggestions as to sources that I could use to document this incident? ...
—Sue Agnew, Tahlequah, Oklahoma
"During the trip up the Sacramento river the Crysopolis narrowly escaped collision with a returning craft. The train on the Central Pacific R.R. proceeding to climb the Sierra Nevada mountains ran off the track on a sheer precipice, but the coaches and passengers did not follow the engine 90 feet down the abyss."