Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hail and Farewell, Bloomer Cut

From: "Chris Graves"

The City Historian for the City of Auburn has contacted me for a list of suggested names for a new subdivision that will fill both sides of Bloomer Cut, as well as require a bridge over Bloomer Cut, this on the City right of way on Herdal Drive.

I suggested "Strobridge" of course, as well as the locomotive names that were active early on.

Stakes are being placed in the ground as this is written, construction will begin soon.

Should anyone want an unobstructed view, without a bridge over the old Cut, now is the time to get it.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: Bill Chew

I agree with your name for the sub division. It is a shame to deface a historical place. I suggest that the developer should erect a large momument and view section! Do you know who the OWNERS are(not the developers)? It might be UP?


6/05/2007 6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: chris graves

Not UP. Some developer bought a bunch of land in Baltimore Ravine, but to subdivide it a bridge must be built over Bloomer Cut.

Already a brass plaque there, but it has three errors on it, as usual.......chris

6/05/2007 6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: Bill Chew


6/05/2007 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: chris graves

Plaque put up by NSGW, "8th" (as in eighth wonder of the world) is mis-spelled; "small roving bands of Chinese" built the Cut (construction began on Bloomer in April, 1864, was completed in April, 1865, Chinese payroll began in March, 1865, somewhere EAST of Auburn (Bloomer is WEST). I asked about the Chinese challenge, and was told by an Anglo/Chinese guy that "workers on the Bloomer Ranch did the work." Asked for documentation, well, guess what. There is none. Richard Yue, the fellow in question, and I chatted last week, and he, bless his heart, admitted the error. "To err is human...." said the Bard, ah, well.

Third error escapes me.

If Chinese were involved, they were there at the last 30 days, leaving ll months, Strobridges' right eye, a dead Italian and a wounded French (this from memory) to tell the tale...............chris

6/05/2007 6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: Bill Chew


I am disappointed that you did not read or forgot the facts in Chapter four, pg 37 of my book. The CPRR payroll record #26 dated January 1864 shows Ah Toy as foreman, and Hung Wah, headman of 23 men crew collected wages( copy in my book). These Chinese worked for division 2 at section 30/31 which is West of Bloomers Cut. Over the years I have shown you respect but it has not been reciprocal. It is not important of what you may think of me.

What is important is your large influence over the railroad communities of Sacramento, Auburn, and Colfax. I perceive you as a man of integrity because of your banking experience. But let us test your metal or fabric by acknowledging these facts. I request that you send e-mails ... retracting the statement that the Chinese did not work at Bloomer Cut, and leave the plaque alone. Bill C.

6/05/2007 6:57 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Chris Graves"

Never for a moment did I not believe that Ah Toy worked in January, 1864 for a contractor of the CPRR.

However, the Placer Herald, Auburn, Cal. reports "February 27, 1864: On last Monday work was commenced by the contractor, with a force of some 30 men, on the deep through cut on the Pacific Railroad one mile south-west of Auburn. The point is known as Bloomer Gap...."

So, we KNOW that work commenced about Feb. 21, 1864 on Bloomer. Where was Ah Toy at that time? We don't know, but 60 days earlier he was at a point one mile WEST of Newcastle, Newcastle being MP 30.

We KNOW from Congressional testimony that Charles Crocer & Co. began work, all by themselves, with no other contractors, beginning at MP 31, and continuing to MP 138.

And, Charles Crocker said, on Sept 20, 1887, in SWORN Testimony: "Commencing at Newcastle, we hired all the white men we could get, and just above Auburn we put the first Chinamen to work"

Show me the error, I will be most pleased to correct my thinking.


6/05/2007 7:02 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


... I still have concerns about making absolute statements based on very sketchy and incomplete evidence – both Chew and you. ...

In the historical info so far traded, there appears to be no mention one way or the other about Chinese working on Bloomer. Chew documents them working somewhere for the CP the month before Bloomer was started, but it is reasonable to assume that there was other work going on while the cut at Bloomer was being dug, so we cannot simply assume that they would have worked on Bloomer. At the same time, based on the evidence so far gathered, I am most certainly not willing to say that they did NOT work on the cut either. (It might be good to put together a table of just which CP time sheets show Chinese working – and which don't.)

On the other hand, while it is worth citing Crocker's 1887 testimony, I'm not sure I would bank on the details of its accuracy. I would not trust Charlie to accurately remember in 1887 (a year before his death) the details of events in 1864. Nor would I have thought Charlie and the CP would consider those particular details important enough in the hearings to be worth actually trying to research the particular facts. Approximate was probably good enough for the hearings.

Under any circumstances, "small roving bands of Chinese" building the cut seems really ill-informed. Any Chinese working on the cut were most certainly NOT in "small roving bands." Bloomer required systematic work by any laborers involved in it.

Of course, another issue is exactly what the CP payrolls represent. I would not expect a contractor payroll to be preserved within the CP records. I generally think that they represent workers directly employed by the CP. It would help us to get a much better understanding of exactly what the payrolls we have represent, which will likely also help us understand why they stop when they do (which as I recall appears to coincide with a reorganizations of how the CP contracted work out). — and I am most certainly not willing to make any statements about Chinese employment across Nevada based on a Dec 1867 payroll and nothing more. ...


6/06/2007 9:26 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Chris Graves"

Thanks for your thoughts, as always, well reasoned.

I will trot out this morning for what may be Ah Toy's camp, located a mile and 1/2 WEST of Newcastle.  Seems someone found some Chinese stuff on the top of a hill, there.  Across Nevada, the Chinese items are usually on hill tops.  (Am told by a Chinese scholar, that workers liked to be up high, away from dust and dirt of the building).  I had heard of the broken pottery, etc. some years ago, but never, until last evening, had linked that stuff with Ah Toy.  Pleased that Bill brought it to my attention, again.

Copy of this email sent to Bill Chew, again with THANKS for the refreshment on where Ah Toy was in January, 1864.  

As to Chinese records on time sheets, I am familiar with what Bill found, January, 1864; the next mention of Chinese that I know of was March, 1865, which ties into both Crocker and Strobridge testimony.   The lack of Chinese pay records, Feb. '64 to Feb. '65,  the articles in the Placer Herald, and the testimony of both Crocker and Strobridge, leads me to believe that if Chinese were in Bloomer, they were there only the month prior to completion, as on March 18, 1865, the Herald reports: "The Pacific Railroad Co. are working from six to seven hundred white and Chinese laborers, from Newcastle to a distance of three miles above Auburn. ... The heaviest portion of the work in the immediate vicinity of Auburn is done, and cuts, fills and trestle work near Newcastle are well advanced."


6/06/2007 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "Chris Graves"
Subject: Ah Toy Camp

I can validate that there was a Chinese camp 50 yards or so from the old CPRR grade, some 500 yards, more or less, East North East from Jenny Lind curve. This would put it about MP 30 1/2.

It was located near a seep, at the top of a swale overlooking Dutch Ravine on one side, and the CPRR grade on the other.

Covered today with blackberries, found one original spike and misc. stuff.

Was this Ah Toy's camp? Don't know. There are two gold mines near by, the Badger Boy and the Silver Dollar, both active 1860-1900.


6/06/2007 5:58 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


Chris and Bill -

I remain somewhat unsettled about gaps in the CPRR payrolls. So I searched a bit and came across a brief survey of mine that was posted earlier on the CPRR Museum web site:

Kyle K. Wyatt, Curator of History & Technology, California State Railroad Museum reviewed their available early Central Pacific Railroad payrolls, and found the following:

1. The collection at CSRM is incomplete, with gaps. It appears to start in Jan 1864, with multiple payroll sheets per month (the number varying according to how many were people were employed, and at how many locations). Earliest sheet I looked at was Payroll #22, Jan 1864. Some sheets specify general duties, such as "Tracklaying", or "Filling Front Street", but others have no such designation. Most list the division and the Sections (generally on the title block on the back).

2. Chinese appear in the following 1864 payrolls:

No. 26, Jan 1864, Division 2, Section 30 & 31, (general duties not specified).
Hung Wa, Chinese laborer; Ah Toy, Chinese Foreman

No. 34, Feb 1864, Division 2, Section 30 & 31, (general duties not specified).
Hung Wa, Chinese laborer; Ah Toy, Chinese Foreman
I also noted a Westerner listed as Chinese foreman

[A number of March sheets are missing, including the one I'd expect the Chinese to appear on.]

No. 43, April 1864, Division 4, Section 34, (general duties not specified).
Hung Wa & Co., Chinese laborer – at different pay rate than before (probably because more than one person).

Subsequent 1864 sheets show a progressive decline in employment. No Chinese were noted.

Large-scale employment resumes in Jan 1865. It is unclear whether or not CSRM has a complete set of Jan 1865 sheets (we do have a large number of Jan sheets). There are no Feb 1865 sheets. The series resumes in March 1865 - again unclear if CSRM might be missing any March sheets.

No. 103, March 1865 - a whole sheet of Chinese – recorded in a different way than earlier sheets – actual duties not listed. Includes entry for Hung Wah (maybe same person?), and also Ah Tong (less clear if same person). ... Payroll No. 103 of March 1865 was the first one with large numbers of Chinese that I saw (in fact the entire sheet is of Chinese). However, all of February 1865 and possibly some of January 1865 payrolls are not in the collection, so we have no idea whether or not Chinese were employed in large numbers before March. There were also some individual Chinese employed in January-April 1864, as shown on earlier payrolls.

No. 106, March 1865 - includes a group of Westerners listed as "China Foremen."

( ... Ah Toy was listed as a Chinese Foreman in the Jan and Feb 1864 CP payroll sheets ... If it is the same person [who 12 years earlier worked for James H. Strobridge on his farm, and who is recorded in the California Special Census of 1852], he would be [about] 43 years old in 1864.)

The CSRM user guide listing for construction payrolls is as follows:

SERIES FOUR: EMPLOYEE RECORDS, 1864-1866 . 5 boxes
This series consists of construction payroll sheets for the building of the Central Pacific Railroad. The payrolls are handwritten on printed forms and were issued by the railroad for "C[harles] Crocker, Contractor." The payrolls list the construction division for which the individual worked, rates of pay, and total pay received. The collection includes some payroll sheets for Chinese labor gangs, as well as payroll information for James Strobridge and other construction officials.
The payrolls are numbered consecutively for the period 1864-1865. A new consecutive numbering system seems to have been instituted in 1866, starting again with the number one. The payrolls are arranged by year and then by number:
1864 . Nos. 22-73
1865 . Nos. 74-180
1866 . Nos. 80-350

My first comment relates to the 1864 payrolls. We can document a small number of Chinese working from the first month in this series - January 1864. Note the 1862-63 payrolls at CSRM are all for the Engineering Department. Construction payrolls begin (in a different series from the Engineering) in January 1864. The small Chinese presence continues in February, may well be on a missing payroll in March, and again is documented in April. Among the payrolls in the CSRM collection that is the end of Chinese employment documentation in 1864, within a context of generally declining employment of anyone through the balance of 1864 while the CPRR suffers grave money problems (at last solved with a court ruling in the beginning of 1865).

Turning to the 1865 payrolls, some are known to be missing from the CSRM collection, including all of February and possibly some of January 1865. So we cannot really document just when large-scale employment of Chinese began – the March 1865 payroll may well NOT be the beginning of it. Note that each month has a large number of payroll sheets, not just a single sheet per month in 1865.

General comments -
There are payroll sheets documenting some Chinese employment in Jan, Feb, and April of 1864, and it seems likely that a missing payroll for March would also have Chinese employment. This Chinese employment documentation ends in April 1864, with no later payrolls inspected in that year having any Chinese listed – with general declining employment of Whites as well in that period. What I'd like to see is a more thorough assessment of the 1864 payroll sheets at CSRM to identify what may be missing from the collection, and in what dates. Since the payrolls are numbered, I'd like to see a list of what numbers occur in each month – and noting missing numbers as well. Bill may well already have this.

CSRM has a large set of January 1865 payrolls, the month when large employment begins, but it is not clear if we have all of Jan 1865. Further, all of Feb 1865 is missing. In March 1865 the first large scale Chinese employment is noted. Unfortunately this sheet does not list WHERE the Chinese were working, so it isn't possible to cross-check the January payrolls to see if Whites are working in a location later worked by Chinese in March. Again, it would be interesting to list the payroll numbers associated with each month, and also noting the missing payrolls.

I don't see any 1867 payrolls listed in the CSRM catalog. I'm not sure where the 1867 payrolls seen by Bill came from (perhaps a different CSRM collection?) We know that the Contract & Finance Co. took over in late Dec 1867, and reportedly their records were systematically burned in the early 1870s as the Union Pacific Credit Mobiler scandal came to a boil and the CP may have feared that they were next.

I note Bill's list of months with Chinese showing up on payrolls:

January, 1864....................23
February, 1864...................21
April, 1864............................5
March, 1865.....................730
April, 1865.....................1,358
May, 1865.....................1,218
January, 1866...............1,120
February, 1866..............1,176
March, 1866..................2,525
April, 1866.....................6,190
May, 1866.....................4,655
June, 1866....................5,184
July, 1866......................3,933
August, 1866.................2,012
September, 1866...........4,359
October, 1866................3,067
November, 1866............2,460
December, 1866............1,326
December, 1867...............401

Given that there are multiple payroll sheets for each month, I really wonder how complete the Dec. 1867 entry is. And we also know that the Contract & Finance co. took over work during that same month – and their payrolls are completely missing and presumed burned.

Incomplete information sources is really a drag when you want answers, but in the end, if we lack sufficient data sources we really cannot make more than tentative statements. and certainly the payrolls we have include major gaps.


6/07/2007 8:05 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Chris Graves"

Thanks, Kyle for the terrific recap that you noted in this email. Nice to see all of it on one sheet of paper!

Your notes compare well with the Stobridge testimony of Tuesday, Aug. 9, 1887:

Q: What point did you begin working for the CPRR?

A: "The first work I did was in Sacramento. I did some work grading in Sacramento ... and then I took general charge of the construction, 32 miles out, I think it was New Castle. my work was limited from Section 33 to Promontory.

Q: What force did you have of Chinamen in the year 1864?

A: I do not think we had any Chinamen in 1864. I think that the work we did in 1864 was what done in Sacramento City. As I recollect it, it was 1865 that we commenced in NewCastle ...

Q: What did your force of Chinamen average from NewCastle, section 33, during the four year that you were building to Promontory?

A: " ... During the years 1866 to 1867 we got out of the mountains and on to the plains our force was considerably lighter.

The above compares well with the Crocker testimony:

" ... and just above Auburn we put the first Chinamen to work"

Rails were laid to NewCastle in early June, 1864. I have a copy of the payroll for the building of the NewCastle trestle, Divison 4. payroll #94, dated February, 1865, no Chinese are noted.


6/07/2007 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question i have is the old Central Pacific RR grade a State or National landmark? If not why not,be ashame to lose this to some developer to bulldoze it under like Perkins freight foundations in Folsom!

6/21/2007 7:38 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Bill Anderson"

We were fortunate to salvage some granite blocks and brick from the Perkins Building foundation.

—Bill Anderson, Folsom, El Dorado & Sacramento Historical RR Association

6/23/2007 12:05 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


Several portions of the Transcontinental Railroad in Utah are on the National Register – including both CP and UP.  Also some other significant items.

Central Pacific Railroad Grade Historic District *** (added 1987 - District - #87000699)
87 mi. segment between Umbria jct. 9 mi. E. of NV border around N end of Great Salt Lake to Golden Spike NHS, Park Valley

Golden Spike National Historic Site *** (added 1966 - Site - #66000080)
Also known as Promontory Summit
NE of Great Salt Lake, Promontory

 Transcontinental Railroad Grade *** (added 1994 - Structure - #94001423)
Roughly, from 6 mi. W of Corinne running approximately 13 mi. along UT 83, Corinne

Ogden Union Station *** (added 1971 - Building - #71000867)
Also known as Ogden Union Depot
25th St. at Wall Ave., Ogden

Odgen Union Station (Boundary Increase) (added 2005 - Building - #05000363)
Also known as Ogden Union Depot
2501 Wall Ave., Ogden

 Colfax Freight Depot (added 1999 - Building - #99001564)
7 Main St., Colfax

 Colfax Passenger Depot (added 1999 - Building - #98001605)
Also known as Southern Pacific Railroad Colfax Passenger Depot
Main St. and Railroad Ave., Colfax

Central Pacific Railroad Depot ** (added 2004 - Building - #04000300)
Also known as Lovelock Depot
1005 W. Broadway Ave., Lovelock

And the trestle on the Lucin Cutoff
 Southern Pacific Railroad: Ogden-Lucin Cut-Off Trestle ** (added 1972 - Structure - #72001257)
30 mi. W of Ogden at N arm of Great Salt Lake, Ogden

Not directly railroad, but cites EH Harriman as important person associated wiht site
Devil's Gate – Weber Hydroelectric Power Plant Historic District ** (added 1989 - District - #89000276)
Also known as Weber Power Plant;Weber Station
I-84 E of jct. with I-89,

Interestingly the "I" Street Bridge across the Sacramento River is listed
 I Street Bridge (added 1982 - Structure - #82002233)
CA 16, Sacramento

And a granite quarry near Rocklin that was served by the Central Pacific very early
Griffith Quarry ** (added 1977 - Site - #77000322)
Taylor Rd., Penryn

Plus Old Sacramento is a National Histoic Landmark (a higher level of status)
Old Sacramento Historic District
Sacramento, California
County of Sacramento.
111 I I Street
National Register Number: 66000219
Resource type: District.

And separately the Big Four Bulding (with a funky name) is a National Historic Landmark – even though it has been moved from its original location and reconstructed.

Big Four House
Sacramento, California
County of Sacramento.
220-226 K St
National Register Number: 76000541
Resource type: Building

There has been some discussion of listing other historic portions of the Central Pacific.  I suspect the railroads are not eager for active lines to be listed, as it would limit what they could do with them.  I believe the "I" Street Bridge is not owned by the railroad, but rather by the City or the State.


6/23/2007 12:09 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Chris Graves"

The originator of [the question] has a valid point, the challenge being "who" or "what" would pay for the old grade. I am told by many that the grade itself has never been surveyed, that is to say, other than mile markers it is not possible to say exactly where one is, GPS not withstanding.


6/25/2007 10:32 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Randall Hees"
Subject: The old grade

There are several challenges to preserving the grade and related structures:
The grade of the WP (of 1862) is in jeopardy, from a regional rail plan which proposes replacing the Niles Canyon Railroad with a much upgraded freight line.  There have been similar threats to other portions of the line from High Speed rail... If this comes to pass we would lose the 1865 masonry, the 1896 pin connected truss, and even much of the alignment as they blast through a straighter better alignment.  Elsewhere on the same line we have lost a section of the right of way to a condo development, so the right of way is no longer usable as a transportation corridor.  This would be typical pressure whereever the right of way passes through an urban or suburban area, i.e., it's not how much someone would pay for the right of way, but how much someone would pay for a small piece of it, which breaks up the right of way destroying its continuity, which is after-all its primary identifying feature.
Other elements of urban encroachment include the proposed vehicle bridge over Boomer cut...  It will never be the same, even it the cut still exists...
Those portions of the right of way which are still in use are fast losing (if they have not already lost) the original fabric, as the line is regularly rebuilt as the line is maintained and occasionally upgraded by UP.
Clearly some of the line is safe.  The Golden Spike monument and associated BLM trail to the west will preserve some of the right of way.
Some of us were discussing the possibility of Federal recognition similar to that used to interpret the Yukon Gold Rush, Rosie the Riveter or Susan B. Anthony National parks, where the National Park service recognizes and interprets the various sites owned by others.
—Randy Hees

6/25/2007 10:39 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Chris Graves"

Randy is right on. I recall some years ago someone wanted to finance some lease hold improvements on SPRR land (now UPRR), I had to decline the request as I could not get a title company to issue a policy of title insurance, as no physical boundries could be set.


6/25/2007 1:52 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "John Snyder"

Much of the transcontinental railroad has been determined eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, but it has not been formally nominated. Nomination would require a VERY intensive bit of fieldwork to determine those portions still retaining enough integrity to warrant listing, accurate mapping of same, writing an exhaustive treatise to support the nomination – and listing would never occur. Private owners can block listing of their properties, and I guarantee you that Uncle Peter would do so if a nomination ever went forward (owners have to be notified when their property is nominated). The result would be that the nomination would go forward to the Secretary of the Interior with the owner objection – and the Secretary would determine the property eligible for listing, but would withhold listing due to the owner objection.

Portions (at least) of the C.P. are listed California State Historic Landmarks, but the listing are very early ones and are fairly imprecise.

Neither listing provides any sort of protection except from State or federal projects.

—John Snyder

7/01/2007 9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just found your post today, and would love to visit with you further on Bloomer's Cut. My name is Stephen Des Jardins, and am the Managing Member of the group working on the 281 acre project know as the Baltimore Ravine Specific Plan. You folks are a wealth of knowledge and your input and discussions over everything from errors on the plaque to names for the bridge would be wonderful help! There is a way to do this bridge to allow views you can't have today, or in the past (unless you were on the flume that went over the cut!). Please contact me at 916-786-8158 (I'm in Roseville) or Now, clearly I have a lot more reading to do, and with your help, I can get there.
Stephen L. Des Jardins

12/15/2007 9:52 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

See, additional discussion.

7/02/2009 12:06 PM  

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