Sunday, November 09, 2008

National landmark designation for CPRR


I worked for 5 years in the BLM Winnemucca Field Office and despite talking to many historians and national historic trail people could never find out – and many people seemed irritated when I asked - why wasn't the CPRR ever considered as a national historic trail or any other kind of national recognition? I don't think it is even designated as a national engineering landmark, or is it? There is so much written on it as the most significant feat in mid-19th Century America and yet it doesn't seem to rate or merit a national trail designation. It seems to me that it basically enhanced what the California Trail was all about, even follows the California Trail, yet gets ignored as if it is not as significant as the California Trail. It is interesting in that you can drive the entire railbed across public lands from near Elko to Fernley, Nevada.

Mike Bilbo
Outdoor Recreation Planner
Socorro Field Office
901 S. Highway 85
Socorro, New Mexico 87801


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is surprising, but not new. Even 19th century readers – the school books of the time – seem to ignore this great achievement. Perhaps the scandals, the panic of 1873, resentment against the railroad and the men who got wealthy by building it, and the animosity related to shipping prices "only" dropping by 90% and railroad reluctance at repayment of the debt all contributed from the outset to blunting proper recognition. It's sad when Americans envy and resent achievement and success instead of celebrating it, but such bad behavior and ingratitude is so deeply embedded in the culture that we base, for example, our progressive tax system on this harmful sentiment. While there certainly were real railroad scandals, the CPRR was subjected to an imaginary scandal before it was even built, being called the "Dutch Flat Swindle" by those who falsely accused the railroad of not actually intending to build beyond that town.

There may be some legal complications in designating the abandoned railroad right of way as a trail, as apparently there is dispute and active litigation concerning whether the land reverts to the surrounding land owners or to the federal government.

11/09/2008 2:29 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


It's probably mostly due to the fact that no one – including those self-same irritated people – has stepped up to take on the writing of the nomination. In fact, the federal agencies whose lands it crosses and in whose jurisdiction it lies are required to do so by the provisions of Executive Order 11593, signed by President Richard Nixon. So, why hasn't the BLM met its responsibilities?

John Snyder
P.S. Preservation Services

11/09/2008 6:43 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

See, Executive Order 11593.

11/09/2008 7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it not also an issue that most of the R.O.W. is privately owned by the Union Pacific? Listing requires the consent of private landowners, and my guess would be to assume that UPRR would not be interested in this recognition.

11/12/2008 4:25 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


Except for the checkerboard, where the original CPRR bed crosses public land, I was given to understand that it is in the public domain. I'll ask my Winnemucca counterparts about that. The modern right of way is UPRR.

11/13/2008 2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I misunderstood that you were addressing the currently abandoned portions of the original alignment in Nevada. I had assumed you meant the entire Pacific Railroad's original alignment. I agree that some manner of recognition is necessary, but the survey and nomination work represent a large undertaking. Especially when not supported by government-backed bonds and land grants.

11/13/2008 11:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Above was me.

11/13/2008 11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See related discussion.

7/27/2011 11:28 PM  

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