And within only a few years, the transcontinental railroad turned the frontier wilderness of the western territories into regions populated by European-Americans, enabling business and commerce to proliferate and effectively ending the traditional Native American way of life. Western Pacific GP20 #2001, and a number of other Geeps, pull a freight through the Niles Canyon near Sunol, California during August of 1969. Unfortunately, without a strong freight base and few feeder branches, monetary issues materialized almost immediately. Central Pacific Railroad, American railroad company founded in 1861 by a group of California merchants known later as the “Big Four” (Collis P. Huntington, Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker); they are best remembered for having built part of the first American transcontinental rail line. The railroad workers were armed and oftentimes protected by U.S. Calvary and friendly Pawnee Indians, but the workforce routinely faced Native American raiding parties that attacked surveyors and workers, stole livestock and equipment, and pulled up track and derailed locomotives. Because the government paid by the mile of track built, Durant also insisted the original route be unnecessarily lengthened, further lining his pockets. The Pacific Railway Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on July 1, 1862. Crocker was in charge of construction, which bega… Drew Jacksich photo. years Western Pacific moved freight along its well-engineered corridor that, in total, spanned slightly over 1,000 miles. In his book, "More Classic American Railroads," author Mike Schafer notes how Arthur Keddie was the most persistent. Drew Jacksich photo. However, operating in the shadow of giants like the Southern Pacific, Santa Fe and the Union Pacific, the relatively young WP had to … All content copyright American-Rails.com (unless otherwise noted). It could be strongly argued the Western Pacific should have never been Finally, on November 1, 1909 a Golden Spike ceremony was held within the Feather River Canyon at Keddie, California marking the railroad's formal completion. Western Pacific F7's approach Dixon Landing Road between Fremont and Milpitas, California with a long freight train during the fall of 1978. Major stockholders in the Union Pacific Railroad formed a company, the … Soon after the completion of the railroad, Durant's corrupt business schemes became a public scandal with Congress investigating not only Durant, but also fellow Senators and Representatives who had benefited from his shady dealings. Contractors officially turned over the property to the operating department on July 1, 1911. The race between the two companies commenced when the Union Pacific finally began to lay tracks at Omaha, Nebraska, in July 1865. WP's section included 111.8 miles running north from Keddie, a junction where two spectacular bridges and a short tunnel were completed to form a wye off the main line. Drew Jacksich photo. Interest in building a railroad uniting the continent began soon after the advent of the locomotive. Western Pacific GP35 #3021, two other Geeps, and a U-boat lead a westbound freight through Quincy, California during August of 1969. A series of mergers left the railroad as a small fish in a huge pond, surrounded by giants like Union Pacific, Southern Pacific, and Burlington Northern. The Western Pacific acquired the road in 1917 and it provided considerable business, largely in the areas of fruits, vegetables, and serving local wine producers. In 1998 a gentleman by the name of Andre Kristopans put together a web page highlighting virtually every unit every out-shopped by General Motors' Electro-Motive Division. As Mr. Schafer's book points out, whereas Southern Pacific's Donner Pass sat at an elevation of 7,056 feet and received roughly 200 inches of snow annually, Beckwourth Pass carried an elevation of just 5,221 feet and was situated fully below the snow line. A highly recommended database! Today, the Western Pacific may no longer exist but its legacy Before the advent of the transcontinental railroad, a journey across the continent to the western states meant a dangerous six month trek over rivers, deserts, and mountains. Date:1862. Later that year it abandoned the parallel Plumas Branch and dropped the 28-mile northern component to Hackstaff (in 1926 the Southern Pacific picked up the remainder of the N-C-O property). From Niles, the line split in opposite directions, reaching Oakland and San Jose. They were originally assigned between Pittsburg and Antioch after electrification there was discontinued and later worked car ferry service across the delta. At the eastern end of the project, Grenville Dodge and his assistant, Peter Dey, surveyed the potential route the Union Pacific would follow. However, the Big Four owned an interest in Crocker's company and each of them profited from the contract. Thomas C. Durant, a medical doctor turned businessman, gained control of the Union Pacific Railroad Company by buying over $2 million in shares and installing his own man as president. Author's collection. Although the Central Pacific had a two-year head start over the Union Pacific, the rough terrain of the Sierra Nevadas limited their construction to only 100 miles by the end of 1867. He oversaw a number of improvements such as installation of centralized traffic control (CTC) and acquisition of diesel locomotives for main line service (the second railroad to acquire such, behind only the Santa Fe). The CZ was still witnessing relatively strong ridership when an ailing Western Pacific elected to cancel its leg on March 22, 1970. The company's decision to locate its Western terminus in Tacoma ignited Seattle's indignation and brought the city together to form its own railroad company, the Seattle & Walla Walla. Alas, in 2013 the site closed by thankfully Don Strack rescued the data and transferred it over to his. Within a decade the company was in trouble and entered bankruptcy prior to World War I. Although Judah's plan had merit, detractors noted the formidable obstacles along his proposed route, the most serious of which was the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The line, which opened on November 2, 1869, ran from a CP connection at Sacramento to Niles via Tracy and Altamont Pass. Following a few name changes it became the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway on January 1, 1893. According to James Griffin's book, "Rio Grande Railroad," Gould used his D&RG/RGW railroads to finance Western Pacific's enormous construction costs (the two would contribute a total of $31.5 million to the endeavor, or roughly 40%). Roger Puta photo. Many Congressmen were leery of beginning such an expensive venture, especially with the Civil War underway, but President Abraham Lincoln, who was a long time supporter of railroads, agreed with Judah. But neither side was interested in halting construction, as each company wanted to claim the $32,000 per mile subsidy from the government. F7A #913-A pops out of the tunnel along the Keddie Wye in Keddie, California as it heads back to the nearby yard during August of 1969. The Northern Electric was incorporated in 1905 and later purchased the Chico Electric Railway (1906), a small streetcar system serving its namesake community. Union Pacific celebrates the shared stories that have shaped our country since 1862. A small sampling is shown in this photo gallery. Running via Oroville and Marysville this link was established in September, 1907. Roger Puta photo. The annexation of the California territory following the Mexican-American War, the discovery of gold in the region in 1848, and statehood for California in 1850 further spurred the interest to unite the country as thousands of immigrants and miners sought their fortune in the West. Kansas Pacific Railroad (1863-1880) – Established in 1855 as the Leavenworth, Pawnee and Western Railroad, it was later reorganized in 1863 as the Union Pacific Eastern Division.Authorized by the United States Congress as part of the Pacific Railway Act, its mission was to create a second southerly branch of the transcontinental railroad, alongside the Union Pacific. The Sacramento Northern Railroad was created in 1914 when the NE went into receivership. The information includes original numbers, serials, and order numbers. Theodore Judah, a civil engineer who helped build the first railroad in California, promoted a route along the 41st parallel, running through Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California. They blasted tunnels through the solid granite -- sometimes progressing only a foot a day. The Missouri Pacific Historical Society, Inc. was organized as a not-for-profit corporation in 1980. The first major accomplishment took place on November 9, 1908 when a connection was established with the Nevada Northern Railway at Shafter, Nevada. Donovan L. Hofsommer, The Southern Pacific, 1901–1985 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986). Less than one month later, on May 10, 1869, locomotives from the two railroads met nose-to-nose to signal the joining of the two lines. Although Strobridge was initially against the idea, feeling that the Chinese were too slight in stature for the demanding job, he agreed to hire 50 men on a trial basis. The northern states supported the railroad as it connected California to its big industrial cities. Just six years later the OA&E found itself in a similar predicament and was renamed as the San Francisco-Sacramento Railroad (the so-called "Sacramento Short Line"). While the route avoided the treacherous steep granite cliffs found along Donner Pass, the Feather River carried its own difficulties. In October 1863, Judah sailed for New York to attempt to find investors who would buy out his Sacramento partners. The latter was completed by the Union Pacific (UP) and Central Pacific (CP) in 1869, running the 42nd parallel between Omaha, Nebraska Territory and Sacramento, California. It wasn't formed until 1906, with completion in 1909. If you are researching active or abandoned corridors you might want to check out the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) Historical Topographic Map Explorer. Judah agreed and he and Strong drew up letters of incorporation for the Central Pacific Railroad Company. At this time the Western Pacific enjoyed its greatest extent, operating a network of 1,138 route miles. In desperation, Crocker tried to hire newly freed African Americans, immigrants from Mexico, and even petitioned Congress to send 5,000 Confederate Civil War prisoners, but to no avail. It is a must visit! After only one month, Strobridge grudgingly admitted that the Chinese were conscientious, sober, and hard workers. By the 1840s, the nation's railway networks extended throughout the East, South, and Midwest, and the idea of building a railroad across the nation to the Pacific gained momentum. Henry Brueckman photo. The main line boasted several noteworthy engineering feats as Donald Robertson points out in his book, "Encyclopedia Of Western Railroad History, Volume IV: California." The first trains began to run in America in the 1830s along the East Coast. By the 20th Century his goal was nearing reality as he controlled the Missouri Pacific, Wabash, Western Maryland, Wheeling & Lake Erie, and the Rio Grande properties consisting of the Denver & Rio Grande (D&RG) and Rio Grande Western (RGW). A year later electrified service was initiated (November 15, 1913). This incredible engineering feat was completed on Nov.7, 1885 — six years ahead of schedule — when the last spike was driven at Craigellachie, B.C. These included 43 tunnels ranging in length from 58 to 7,318 feet (the longest included a 5,676 bore near Jasper, Nevada; a 6,000-foot tunnel at Chilcoot beneath the Sierra Nevada Mountains; a 7,318-foot tunnel at Spring Garden; and finally a 4,287-foot tunnel at Niles Canyon) and a number of trestles spanning the Feather, American, and Humboldt Rivers. Publishers or production companies who wish to use Union Pacific images should contact the museum at (402) 501-3841 for additional assistance. The Pacific Railway A Brief History of Building the Transcontinental Railroad. This interurban was funded by a San Francisco businessmen and its name soon changed as the Oakland, Antioch & Eastern. The modern WP's beginnings are symbolic of its entire corporate existence; always On March 20, 1949 it introduced one of the most successful and fondly remembered streamliners of all time, the California Zephyr (CZ). Drew Jacksich photo. ), 1 (Built as New York, Ontario & Western #503. As historian Dr. George Hilton notes in his book, "American Narrow Gauge Railroads," the N-C-O began as "The Nevada & Oregon Railroad," organized on June 1, 1880. Drew Jacksich photo. It is difficult to truly articulate just how much material can be found at this website. Butters who quickly eyed a connection into Sacramento. Thanks to the book, "Western Pacific Color Pictorial: Volume One," by Adam Clegg for help compiling this diesel roster. In 1910 the OA&E reached Walnut and a year later was opened to Lafayette. According to Dr. George Hilton's and John Due's book, "The Electric Interurban Railways In America," the SN was composed primarily of two predecessors, the Northern Electric Railway and the Oakland, Antioch & Eastern Railway. fighting for survival. The Union Pacific (UP) is one the largest and most powerful railroads in the country. Almost immediately, conflicts arose between Judah and his business partners over the construction of the Central Pacific line. Many were pulled up in the 1970's and 1980's although others were removed long before that. Keddie's first effort was the Oroville & Virginia City Railroad launched in 1869. Stanford was elected president (at the same time he was elected governor), Huntington vice-president in charge of fund raising and purchasing, and Hopkins treasurer. The new company took over on July 15th and its new president, Charles Levey, worked very hard to increase business. In 1864, a track-laying crew from the Central Pacific Railroad came eastward across the plain from Sacramento, building the western half of the nation's first transcontinental railroad.They crossed a small rail line (the California Central Railroad) that linked the young towns of Lincoln and Folsom, and gave the spot the imaginative name of Junction. From the east, the Union Pacific completed its line through Wyoming and was moving at an equal tempo from the east. The Central Pacific's Big Four formed their corporation with a similar arrangement, awarding the construction and supplies contract to one of their own, Charles Crocker, who, for the sake of appearances, resigned from the railroad's board. The men, mostly Irishmen, worked hard and well, despite going on strike occasionally when Durant withheld their pay over petty labor disputes. https://www.history.com/topics/inventions/transcontinental-railroad The act was approved and signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on July 1, 1862. Keddie finally outmaneuvered his nemesis by partnering with another mogul, George Gould. Bells rang and fire whistles shrieked as people celebrated across the country. You will be hard pressed at finding a better online resource regarding diesel locomotives than Craig Rutherford's TheDieselShop.us. Today, there are tens of thousands of miles scattered throughout the country. Drew Jacksich photo. Sacramento Northern's "Southern Division" was the work of the Oakland & Antioch Railway. © Copyright 2007-2020 American-Rails.com. It reached its final length on January 10, 1912 when it opened to Lakeview, Oregon. It was incorporated in 1861 by Judah and "The Big Four" (who called themselves "The Associates"): Sacramento, California businessmen Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins. By then, Collis Huntington and his former associates had died with the Southern Pacific passing into the hands of another successful tycoon, Edward Harriman. Overall, the Northern Electric operated about 93 miles. A rail line built along this route would require tunneling through granite mountains and crossing deep ravines, an engineering feat yet to be attempted in the U.S. The vaunted Southern Pacific name carries a complex history although its immediate heritage can be traced back to the Transcontinental Railroad's completion. Together, they opened a competing line through the beautiful Feather River Canyon. According to the book "The Great Northern Railway, A History" by authors Ralph W. Hidy, Muriel E. Hidy, Roy V. Scott, and Don L. 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