Saturday, December 30, 2006

Correspondence on Western Pacific Iron

From: "Larry Mullaly"

This past week at the National Archives in College Park, I came across a set of three letters that I believe are not found in the CP Huntington microfilmed correspondence.

The documents are in the Western Pacific "railroad packages" and deal with the question as to whether or not rail was removed from the WP between San Jose and Niles to expedite the building of the Central Pacific. My transcription of the three items sent by Huntington in New York to Jacob D. Cox, Secretary of the Interior, follows. It is difficult to determine from the letters whether the issue of discrediting Jacob Blickensderfer, a US Railroad Commissioner, or defending the presence of original iron on the Western Pacific is of greater importance. I am also struck by how rapidly this collection of documents was put together and forwarded to Secretary Cox (the Stanford testimonial seems to be a hand-written copy of the original, and bears no seal nor actual signature in Stanford's hand).

—Larry Mullaly

New York, June 4, 1869
Hon. Jacob D. Cox
Secretary of the Interior
Washington DC


I have the honor to send you herewith Mark Hopkins letter of the 24th ult. To me, also affidavit of Leland Stanford, Prest. Western Pacific Rail Road, as further evidence in the matter of non-removal of iron from said road and have to ask as a personal favor that you read these carefully as the matters referred to in them are of a personal nature between Mr. Blickensderfer and myself.

I have the honor to be Very Respectfully Your obedient servant,
C.P. Huntington

No. 184
Sacramento, May 24, 1869

Mr. Huntington,

Your dispatch was duly received "saying "Blinkersdorfer says Stanford told him we had taken up iron on the Western Pacific Road," is it true?" – and I replied by telegraph.

At the time I received and answered it, Stanford was at San Francisco. Since his return it has been shown him, and he say it is utterly false – an outright fabrication, without anything even to suggest it, that no such thought ever entered his mind, and that Blickensderfer or any one else who would make such an assertion must do it from malicious motive. For the truth is we are pushing the work of construction on the Western Pacific road energetically from both ends and laying down iron (instead of taking it up) just as fast as tis possible to get the bridges and Livermore Tunnel out of the way – and putting the 20.miles from San Jose east in thorough repair – building track from Warm Springs Landing (at head of San Francisco Bay) and landing 480 tons of iron there to be laid from that end to the Tunnel, while we are building San Joaquin Bridge 1 1/4 miles in length with Draw for shipping to pass, preparatory to carrying forward the track from the East to the Tunnel. So that as soon as night and day shifts of men can complete the Tunnel – say by 1st of August or before – the whole line of Western from Sacramento to San Jose will be complete and Commissioners' Report upon it ready to forward you.

I can scarcely conceive it possible that even Blickensderfer with all his unpaid-for malignity (possibly because unpaid) should say so weak and foolish a thing, so readily exposed and refuted and so destitute of motive on our part. For we have more iron and ties than we have any use for at present and have had for months. And even if we had not, it [is] not in keeping with any act we have ever yet done in all our intercourse with our fellows.

I trust you didn't wait to hear from us before denouncing the assertion as it deserved.

This further utterance confirms my opinion from what I saw of him that he either had been or wished to be paid for his opinion on Rail Roads.

Yours truly,
Mark Hopkins

State of California
City & County of San Francisco

Leland Stanford being duly sworn says that he is the President of the Western Pacific Railroad Company whose railroad is located in the said State of California, that the portion of said railroad heretofore constructed by said Company commencing in the City of San Jose and extending into Alameda Canon [sic], a distance of twenty miles, still remains ready for use and operation, and no portion of the same or of any of the railroad constructed by said Company has ever been later taken up or removed.

Sworn and subscribed before me this 26th day of May 1869

F.J. Thibault
Notary Public

Leland Stanford


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Sal Ramirez"

Thanks a million for uncovering these documents. They uncover a relatively unknown incident. ...

—Sal Ramirez

1/03/2007 3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These letters are most interesting! It is common today to find 50 lb iron rail, branded RIC 62, with rail chairs still attached, in the Sierra. This rail was used as side rail by the CPRR in Colfax, and as late as 2002 it was still to be found in the ground near the old CPRR grade, as well as in downtown Colfax, near the old depot site. It was uncovered by road workers in the Summer of 2002. Additionally, similiarly branded rail, with rail chairs still attached, can be seen along the Towle Bros. grade, where it was used when the CPRR no longer had a need for it. (Towle Bros was begun about 1889, and abandoned about 1903) Due to the date of 1862, and the rail weight, 50 lbs., an assumption was made that that rail was from the early WPRR. Looks like we need to go back to the books.........G J Chris Graves, NewCastle, Cal.

1/14/2007 2:03 PM  

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