Central Pacific Railroad
Central Pacific Railroad, Promontory, Summit Utah, Sierra Mountains, Steam Engine

Central Pacific Railroad

     The dream of a Transcontinental Railroad led Theodore Judah and Doc Strong in the back of a drugstore to draw up the articles of incorporation in the fall of 1860 and thus the  Central Pacific Railroad was born.   Having searched far and wide, Judah knew that they had found the corridor route for the railroad through the Sierra Mountains

     The problem at hand was to find key investors for such an enterprise.   The solution presented its self  in 1861, seven men came together to listen to Theodore Judah.    Four of the men were to become known as The Big Four, Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford, and Charles Crocker they each purchased 15,000 dollars of stock in the newborn Central Pacific Railroad

     The catalyst of the Transcontinental Railroad was the passage of the Pacific Railroad Act in 1862.    It granted the needs of  two railroads to be built starting at either end of the Transcontinental Railroad route and meeting somewhere in the middle

     The Pacific Railroad Act gave the building rights of the railroad from the west coast starting point to the Central Pacific Railroad while the Union Pacific Railroad would build starting from Omaha, Nebraska and head west

     In January of 1863, the Central Pacific Railroad broke ground in Sacramento, California and laid 20 miles of track before exhausting their funds

     The greatest of all obstacles, money was needed and no stone was left unturned in finding it.   The Central Pacific Railroad bought votes, had a wagon toll road and relocated a mountain range in order to obtain state and federal monies 

     The War between the states was taking its toll with prices greatly inflated

     A ton of rails had jumped from $55 to $115 and a small locomotive if you could get one ran $14,000.   Before the War between the states had started a much larger locomotive had only been 10,000.   It became almost highway robbery to obtain the black powder necessary for blasting

     Even worse the federal government paid in greenbacks which was not trusted in the west greenbacks when converted to gold were 57 cents on the dollar.    Finally in 1864, Huntington became notably dishonest and went to Washington to buy votes.   It worked and the passage of the 1864 Railroad Act made the Central Pacific Railroad a land holding company

     To wax the fat off of the Central Pacific Railroad, the Big Four developed a construction firm entitled Contract and Finance Company.     The Gilded Age was about to see a new form of embezzlement occur.   Overall the Big Four through their scam construction company personally pocketed 63 million dollars plus held most of the Central Pacific Railroad stocks of 100 million dollars and had power over the nine million acres of land given by the federal government

     Enlisting Harvey Strobridge, a slave driver, the Central Pacific Railroad pushed their men.    Only 34 miles from Sacramento the crews started using blasting powder in order to maintain grade.   In 1865, Charles Crocker, in charge of construction, finally found the solution to the work force problem with the introduction of Chinese labor amongst his Irishmen. At the height of construction the   Central Pacific Railroad employed over 10,000 Chinese

      Harvey Strobridge held a heavy hand over the social lives of his men not for reasons of morality or Christian ethics but solely for business.   Harvey Strobridge had a railroad to build!  

      The winter of 1866 had 44 blizzards and the men were boring Summit Tunnel, the longest, highest and the last tunnel before starting down the Sierras with nine more tunnels before hitting the Nevada deserts

     Working under the snow, isolated, surviving on emergency food rations took its toll on the men the avalanches proved the most devastating.    The men working with incredible fortitude were only able to lay eight inches of rail a day due to the unforgiving mountain

      It was not until the Central Pacific Railroad hired a chemist to manufacture nitroglycerin on the spot that progress moved on.    In all the Central Pacific Railroad built 15 tunnels.     In 1868, the Central Pacific Railroad laid 360 miles of track.   The crew broke all records on April 28, 1869 setting ten miles of track in twelve hours

     Finally on May 10, 1869 the Central Pacific Railroad met the Union Pacific Railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah.   In the midst of splendid grandeur and celebration, Leland Stanford, president of Central Pacific Railroad and Durant from the Union Pacific Railroad both swung at the gold spike and missed to the enjoyment of the men

     The Central Pacific Railroad 's Big Four were only beginning.    In 1868, the Central  Pacific Railroad  had acquired the Southern Pacific Railroad but it was not until 1885 that the Central Pacific Railroad merged into the Southern Pacific Railroad which had built a transcontinental railroad to New Orleans in 1883 and dominated the railroad traffic in California

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