Monday, March 21, 2011

Mormon subcontractors building the Central Pacific Railroad

... I'm very interested in the building of the railway through Utah and am wondering if you might have access to ... communications [between the CPRR and] Bishop Chauncey W. West. Also, I would be very interested in finding some original source documents which may describe the negotiations with Brigham Young, his choice of Mormon subcontractors and the responsibilities of those contractors in building the railway.

Any thoughts or assistance would be greatly appreciated.


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


The Collis P. Huntington papers (copies of his incoming and outgoing letters) are available on microfilm. You may be able to find a university or other repository that has a copy. I am quite sure that negotiations with Mormon Church officials were discussed in the letters. Huntington (based in New York) corresponded extensively with his partners in California, and they kept him fully informed.

The original Huntington papers are at Syracuse University.

In the University Microfilm edition there are 115 reels – and a published guide to the reels.
The CPRR Museum web site notes that Series IV, Reel 2 may be of particular interest as it contains material related to the construction of the Central Pacific.
Note also that incoming and outgoing letters are in separate series.

Note also that Leland Stanford's papers are available at Stanford University.

The University Microfilm web site listing for the Huntington papers ... lists some (but far from all) institutions that hold a copy of the microfilm set. A full set costs $7,250.

The Microfilming Corp of America apparently did the actual microfilming.

Secondary sources that might be worth looking at are the following, both of which quote and cite extensively from primary source materials, including extensive use of the Huntington papers:
The Governor, by Norman E. Tutorow – a 2-volume biography of Leland Stanford
The Inside Man, by Salvador A. Ramirez – a 2-volume biography of Mark Hopkins

Probably also worth checking for the sources they use and cite are:

Over the Range: A History of the Promontory Summit Route of the Pacific Railroad, by Richard V. Francaviglia

Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad, by David Haward Bain

Union Pacific: The Birth of a Railroad, 1862-1893, by Maury Klein – volume 1 of his 2-volume history of the Union Pacific Railroad

Finally, I imagine there are many papers of many Mormon personages in various repositories in Utah.


3/23/2011 10:06 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


Another source is the Union Pacific Railroad papers at the Nebraska Historical Society in Lincoln. They have copies of the original contract with Brigham Young and others. Also, the church archives in Salt Lake City has copies of some of the original contractor pay sheets.

Bob Spude – Historian – Cultural Resources Management – National Park Service – Intermountain Region – 505.988.6770 Voice – 505.988.6876 Fax

The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.

3/23/2011 10:12 AM  

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