Thursday, March 15, 2012

Route North or South of the Great Salt Lake

From: "Bud Stephens",

Why was the north route originally chosen instead of the south route around the Great Salt Lake?

Ralph (Bud) Stephens (N7USC)


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Based on this 1867 UPRR map, not sure whether the route north of the Great Salt Lake was originally chosen.

3/15/2012 8:51 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Also see, THE IRON TRAIL to the Golden Spike by John J. Stewart, DESERET BOOK COMPANY, SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, 1969:

"Meanwhile, the Mormons had entered into a contract with President Stanford of Central Pacific as well, early in September, 1868, to grade his road from the Utah-Nevada line east into Weber Canyon. Stanford guaranteed three to six dollars per day for manual and skilled labor and ten dollars per day for wagonmen, and he even made a cash down payment in advance, demanded by President Young in view of his unhappy experience with Union Pacific, which had failed to meet its monthly payments to the Mormons and which had also decided to build its road north of the Great Salt Lake instead of through Salt Lake City. In one of his colorful, spirited sermons in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, the Mormon leader severely chastised the UP officials for their actions.

Dodge, who as chief engineer of UP was responsible for the decision to go north of the lake instead of through Salt Lake City, states that 'we had only one controversy with the Mormons, who had been our friends and had given the full support of the Church from the time of our first reconnaissances until the final completion. It was our desire and the demand of the Mormons that we should build through Salt Lake City, but we bent all our energies to find a feasible line passing through that city and around the south end of the Great Salt Lake and across the desert to Humboldt Wells, a controlling point in the line. We found the line so superior on the north of the lake that we had to adopt that route with a view of building a branch to Salt Lake City, but Brigham Young would not have this, and appealed over my head to the board of directors, who referred the question to the government directors, who finally sustained me. Then Brigham Young gave his allegiance and aid to the Central Pacific, hoping to bring them around the south end of the lake and force us to connect with them there. He even went so far as to deliver in the tabernacle a great sermon denouncing me, and stating a road could not be built or run without the aid of the Mormons.'

Brigham's sermon warmed the heart of Leland Stanford, who was soliciting his aid in construction of Central Pacific. Although CP also had decided to build north of the lake instead of through Salt Lake City, Stanford carefully avoided telling Brigham Young this, but let him believe that CP preferred the southern route. He wrote to his partners that he thought it was not expedient to tell Brigham of CP's true intentions. Finally Dodge told the Mormon leader. When confronted with the matter, Stanford lamely explained that CP was being forced to go north of the lake due to UP's decision. Dodge also assured Young that UP was willing to build a first-class branch line from Ogden to Salt Lake City."

3/15/2012 8:52 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Kyle K. Wyatt"

Another factor for the Central Pacific was the traffic to the Idaho mines. Had the CP built south, the UP would have blocked the shipping routes to the north. By building north of the Great Salt Lake, the CP also had access to the Idaho traffic, which had long been served by California even before the railroad was constructed.


3/16/2012 6:09 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Begin forwarded message:

From: Wendell Huffman

I think it is as simple as the CP preferred the north route and got the location approved by the Secretary of the Interior before the UP got the location south of the lake surveyed and approved.

The CP engineers had been over both routes by June 1867, before the UP had been over either route. The UP was relying on affidavits from Mormons about routes.

On 15 August 1867 EB Crocker asked CP Huntington "why do the UP want line south of Salt Lake? If they were to build west of lake they would want best line—it is therefore mere maliciousness against us that they insist on south route as it will be more expensive for us to connect with that."

I do not know what the UP had done in the meantime, but on 13 May 1868 Huntington wrote that Secretary of Interior had approved CP location as far as north end of lake.


3/16/2012 8:47 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

The Central Pacific report of surveys (1866) states: "skirting northern margin of the Great Desert, to north end of Great Salt Lake; thence through the South Pass of the Promontory mountains, skirting Mud Plains north of Bear River bay to Brigham City".

3/16/2012 9:30 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


Thanks ... Great info.

3/16/2012 3:49 PM  

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