The project for construction of a great Railroad through the United
States of America, connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific ocean, has
been in agitation for over fifteen years.
It is the most magnificent project ever conceived.
It is an enterprise more important in its bearings and results to the
people of the United States, than any other project involving an expenditure
of an equal amount of capital.
It connects these two great oceans.
It is an indissoluble bond of union between the populous States of
the East, and the undeveloped regions of the fruitful West.
It is a highway which leads to peace and future prosperity. An iron
bond for the perpetuation of the Union and independence which we now enjoy.
Many projects for the prosecution of this enterprise have been presented.
Various schemes for the fulfillment of these projects have been devised.
Our wisest statesmen, most experienced politicians, scientific engineers,
and shrewdest speculators, have each and all discussed the subject in nearly
every point of view, and given the results of their wisdom and experience
to the world.
Their projects have proved abortive.
Their schemes have failed
The world has listened with attentive ears to the words of eloquence
and wisdom, from the lips of great and wise men.
This project has not been consummated.
The road has not been finished.
Its practicability has not been established.
A survey has not been made.
It has simply been made the subject of reconnaissance.
During the first twenty-five years, twenty-five thousand miles of Railroad
has been constructed in the United States, and a thousand million of dollars
This road is but two thousand miles in length, and its cost not over,
As many as eight or ten great avenues of transit between the present
East and West (three of which, in the State of New York alone, cost one
hundred million of dollars) have been constructed.
This highway, the greatest and most important of them all, remains
unbuilt, it may be said unsurveyed, simply reconnoitered.
Why is this?
Its popularity is universal.
Its importance admitted.
Its practicability believed in
Its profitableness unquestioned.
1st. It is because these projects have been speculative in their nature;
and the people are disposed to look with distrust upon grand speculations.
2ndly. There are different routes, advocated by diverse interest, each
eager that the road be built to subserve its own particular interest, but
unwilling to make common cause upon a common route.
3dly. From the lack of confidence in private capitalists, dissuading
them from investing in any project, through which they cannot see their
This plan assumes to obviate these objections; and,
1st. To build the Pacific Railroad.
2ndly. To accomplish the same in ten years.
3dly. To raise the capital therefore.
And suggests practical means for the accomplishment of its object by
means of private capital.
It assumes that, without confidence of the people, the road cannot
It proposes to divest the project of its speculative features, and
thereby endeavor to inspire the public with confidence.
To do this, therefore, its direction and destiny must not be controlled
by a grand stock jobbing company, whose united aggregate wealth will not
pay once per cent. upon their magnificent subscriptions.
2ndly. To divest it of the difficulties consequent upon sectional prejudices.
It is proposed to ask aid of no kind whatsoever from the General or
any State Government, but to combine the interest of either the Northern
or Southern States, upon their favorite route; to ask for private capital,
and confine the sphere of action entirely to one or the other of these
This insures unity of action.
The experience of all legislation in this country, upon a subject of
general interest, but arousing sectional prejudices, shows conclusively
that the fate of a project of this nature, dependent upon the general will,
is most likely to provide an unhappy one.
No one doubts that a liberal appropriation of money or of public lands
by the General Government, ought to insure the construction of this Railroad,
but the proposition carries the elements of its destruction with it; it
is the house divided against itself; it cannot be done until the route
is defined; and, if defined, the opposing interest is powerful enough to
Nor does the project for three independent routes, with grants of land
for each, divest its project of its objections.
There is, at present, no necessity for three roads. The traveling public
will be very well content with one; the time may come when three roads
may be required, but it is at present as impossible to raise, as unnecessary
to spend four hundred million of dollars to accomplish the same result
which can be obtained with one hundred and fifty millions of dollars. The
advocates of any do not believe that more than one road will be
therefore, to give all a fair opportunity, lest their neighbor might get
the advantage; they will probably manage to do as they have done before,
defeat the measure.
The same policy is observable on a minor scale, in the action of State
governmentsas, for instance, in the State of California an appropriation
is badly needed for a survey of a wagon road across the Sierra Nevada mountains,
but there are here also three routes, the Northern, Middle, and Southern;
and each believing its route the best, insists upon the survey being made,
and appropriation spent, upon their routeunable to accomplish this, they
defeat the whole.
We are therefore brought to a consideration of the 3d objection, viz:
The want of confidencedissuading capitalists from investing in a new
project, through which they cannot see their way clear.
We assume, that this road must be built with private capital.
That private capital can be had with which to build Railroads, and
sometimes even unprofitable ones, will not be denied; for it has built
us twenty-five thousand miles within the last twenty-five years, costing
one thousand millions of dollars, and to many of them the name of dividend
is unknown. This at once suggests the interrogatory offrom whence came
this capital? and what means were employed for its development? The answer.
It is private capital, and it was confidence, (perhaps in many instances
misplaced) but it was confidence which developed this capital.
This, then, is the solution of the enigma.
Why is it, if this vast amount has been raised to build our Railroads,
that the same course cannot be adopted to procure the money for construction
of the Pacific Railroad?
Simply because, as yet, no survey has been made upon which capitalists
can base their calculations, they do not know that a line is wholly practicable
upon any route.
When a Boston capitalist is invited to invest in a Railroad project,
it is not considered sufficient to tell him that somebody has rode over
the ground on horseback and pronounced it practicable. He does not care
to be informed that there are 999 different variety and species of plants
an herbs, or that grass is abundant a this point, or Buffalo scare at that;
that the latitude or longitude of various points are calculated, to a surprising
degree of accuracy, and the temperatures of the atmosphere carefully noted
for each day in the year.
His inquiries are somewhat more to the point. He wishes to know the
length of your road. He says, let me see your map and profile, that I may
judge of it alignment and grades.
How many cubic yards of the various kinds of excavation and embankment
have you, and upon what sections?
Have you any tunnels, and what are their circumstances?
How much masonry, and where are your stone?
How many bridges, river crossings, culverts, and what kind of foundations?
How about timber and fuel?
Where is the estimate of the cost of your road, and let me see its
What will be its effect upon travel and trade? What its business and
All this I require to know, in order to judge if my investment is likely
to prove a profitable one.
It will be remembered that we start with these grounds assumed, viz:
That the Pacific Railroad must be built with private capital.
This can only be had by inspiring the capitalist with confidence.
The only manner in which this can be accomplished, is by laying before
him the results of an actual reliable survey; such an one as he can understand,
and upon which he feels justified in forming his opinions.
He must see a map and profile, must know the grades and curves, the
depths and quantity of excavation and embankment; he must see for himself
the obstacles to be encountered, and the difficulties to be surmounted.
He does not wish to expend his money on a portion of the road, and
afterwards find a portion of it impracticable, or which presents difficulties
which will swallow up a like investment; he must know beforehand what the
road will cost, what its probable business, what the cost of operating
it, and what the probable returns for his money; in short, he must see
his way clear.
When the friends of the Pacific Railroad can approach a capitalist
and answer all these questions, they may begin to hope for a realization
of their wishes.
This, then, involves a survey, a practical Railroad survey; and before
the success of the enterprise can be established, both time and money must
be expended in a survey.
Some will say, how is it possible that a survey must be made, when
Government has had half a dozen routes surveyed, and has spent so much
money and time upon them?
This is the answer. It is because Government has spent so much money
and time upon so many routes, that we have as yet no proper survey of any
one of them.
If Government had concentrated her engineer parties, and spent her
money in making a thorough survey of some one route, in a practical Railroad
fashion, we should now have some reliable data wherewith to answer these
questionsbut the dog in the manger policy required that the appropriation
should not be spent upon any one route, but distributed over half a dozen;
the results of which is an abundance of general information, vastly interesting,
and of little use; but a dearth of that kind of practical knowledge, which
capitalists require to induce them to invest in Railroads. No disrespect
is intended, or fault to be found with Government engineers, who are generally
highly scientific as well as estimable gentlemen, and who obey orders to
If directed to ascertain distances by latitude and longitude, or with
a rodometer instead of a goneometer, they do so; or, if directed to ascertain
the altitudes with a barometer instead of a leveling instrument, they do
so. If ordered to survey two thousand miles at the rate of twenty miles
per day, they obey orders and ask no questions; but it is no less true
that the former means give only general and interesting, while the latter
gives useful and practical, results. The one tells us that the route abounds
in obstacles and difficulties, or is inexpensive and easy of construction;
while the latter determines what these obstacles and difficulties are, or
how easy and inexpensive the character of the route is.
For the information of those unacquainted with the manner of conducting
a railroad survey, a brief description of the modus operandi is given.
The engineer in charge of survey goes over the country upon which it
is proposed to construct a line, and carefully examines the ground with
reference to the proposed location. He notes its character, examines the
water-courses, ravines, the elevations to be overcome, the undulation of
ground, the most feasible points for crossing rivers, the character of
the soil, and decides upon the general course of the line. This done, he
organizes a party, composed of what is usually termed a transit and a leveling
The business of the transit party is to run a line over the route indicated,
measuring distances with a chain, and taking courses or direction of the line
by compass or goneometer, leaving stakes behind every one hundred feet,
or as often as requisite, as guides for the leveling party. The results
are put on paper, and gives a map or correct miniature representation of
the line, as run, showing its curves and tangents, the crossing of all roads,
rivers and streams, farms, township and county lines, name of land owners,
and all points of interest along the line.
The leveling party follows the transit party, and runs, with the utmost
accuracy, a line of levels, touching upon each of these stakes, taking
observations of the undulations of the ground, sections of the river crossings,
high and low water marks, &c., &c. These plotted give what is called
a profile, or vertical representation of the surface of the ground and
With these the engineer has a correct representation of the direction
and distance, as well as a profile with the rise and fall of the ground.
Grades are now laid up the profile as to conform with the surface of
the country, making the excavations and embankments balance each other
as nearly as possible, so that when done the length and height of each
excavation and embankment are given in figures. The line is then divided
off into sections of about a mile each, and the quantities of excavation
and embankment calculated on each section. If an extensive cut occurs he
knows exactly how many cubic yards of earth is to be taken from it; and
knowing the cost of excavating and hauling the same, it is readily reduced
to dollars and cents.
Calculations are also made of the quantities of masonry and timber
necessary to build the bridges, culverts, &c., on the line, so that,
supposing the survey complete, the engineer is in possession of all the
information requisite to estimate the cost of [the] road, which is reduced
to practical results.
He knows the length of road, or straight line, the length, number and
radius of its curves, the distance across each man's farm, the names of
land owners, the grades, quantities of excavation and embankment, and haul
of same, the number and length of all bridges and culverts, the quantities
of masonry and timber, so that he can tell you the quantity of material
and cost of each section, in detail, or of the whole road, in dollars and
cents. Adding to this the known cost of iron, ties, buildings, equipment,
&c., and he is able to present the cost of such road, deduced from
facts and figures, and not from fancy or speculation, and upon such estimates
the capitalist bases his calculations for raising money to construct the
road; with this he has something tangible and reliable. This is what we
want for the Pacific Railroad, and until this is done nothing is done.
This plan proposes such a survey, such an estimate, and such a report.
With it any company can, in their office, refer to any section or particular
point upon the line, and tell its grades, curves, quantities, characteristics,
facilities, and cost.
If they wish to examine a river-crossing, here is a profile of its
bed, the character of material for foundations, high and low water mark,
the number and heights of its piers and abutmentsin short, they know
all that is necessary to know in order to determine the character and cost
of the structure to be erected.
Who can doubt that with all this information, obtained in a practicable
manner, everything deduced from actual calculation, and reduced to dollars
and cents, that capitalists can be found who will invest in such a project,
providing it can be satisfactorily shown that it will prove remunerative.
It will no doubt be urged, that such a survey will consume three or
four years, and cost a half a million of dollars. Suppose it does; if
this is the right way to go to work is it not best to consume the time
and spent the money. But it can, on the contrary, be clearly shown that
a survey of this description can be made in one year, and at a cost of
$200,000. We will assume that $200,000 has been raised for this purpose.
Instead of appointing a Board of Engineers to control the matter, or
applying to Government for one of their Engineers; instead of wasting time
and money on useless discussions as to the routes or directions of the
survey, or the manner in which it shall be done, let the Company look about
for a practical Railroad Engineer, who has distinguished himself for the
celerity of his movements and the accuracy of his work as Locating Engineer,
or invest him with the entire charge of the enterprise, with directions
to complete his survey in the shortest space of time consistent with accuracy,
and present the results of his labors in the most practical
as much general information as his time will allow.
The general course of the line may be determined, but liberty given
to him to deviate from the same if, in his judgment, it is desirable.
We will suppose, for example, that a northern party has undertaken
the survey; that such an Engineer is found, and has received these instructions,
with directions to commence at or near Fort Kearney, run a line westward
up the south branch of the Great Platte River, taking in the Salt Lake
settlement, if possible, and, by the most eligible route, to the Sacramento
valley, in California.
Assuming these responsibilities, we will suppose that the Engineer
resolve the plan of operations in his mind. The probable distance 2,000
miles. He knows that about two-thirds of this will be over level, open
country, offering no obstacles, and that an ordinary party, on preliminary
survey, will make three miles per day without difficulty, and that one
mile per day can be made in difficult country. He will proceed to organize
his party, as follows:
The Road to be apportioned into four divisions, of about 500 miles
each, and a Resident Engineer, to be invested with the charge of the surveys
on each division, to be given the control and direction of the following
party, and made responsible for the faithful performance of their duties:
His party to consist of
Transit party for running Lines - Salary per mo.
Party for taking Trigonometrical Observations of points along the
||Chainmen, each $50
||Axemen, each $40
||Flagmen, each $35
tracing up streams, rivers, &c.
||Tape men, each $40
For sketching Topography.
For running Levels.
||Rodmen, each $50
For running test Levels.
||Hunters, each $40
||Teamsters, each $50
||Wagons and Horses
||Steward or Commissary
We will assume that the average cost of provisioning these men will
be $1.50 per day or $1,350 per month, and we have a total of $3,150 per
We have, then
||Chief Engineer, 1 year, at $10,000
||Asst. Engineer, at St. Louis, at $3,000
||Asst. Engineer, at San Francisco, at $5,000
||Draughtsman at each place, at $2,400
||Asst. Draughtsman at each place at $1,500
||parties' salaries, at $20,000 per year
||parties' subsistence, at $16,250
Stationery and office expenses
||Horses, at $100
||wagons, at $200
||Tents, camp equipage, &c.
Travelling expenses, incidental, &c.
Or a total of $200,000 gives four efficient, practical Railroad parties,
for twelve months; an average of 4500 miles per each party and counting
but two hundred and fifty working days, making an average of only two miles
per day for them to accomplish.
The distance to be surveyed will not probably exceed 1,800 miles. That
portion through the Sacramento Valley will probably be surveyed by parties
there; and the portion each of Fort Kearney, by the Railroad Companies
in Missouri and Iowa.
The first 600 or 700 miles will present no difficulties, and a good
party ought to make five miles per day over such a country. At this rate
they would complete their labors in four months, and would proceed on to
the assistance of the parties upon the other divisions, where the survey
was more difficult. Two of these parties are sent to Salt Lake, or to a
point about mid way of the line, one from Missouri and the other from California,
in order that each may go over the ground of its operations, taking such
notes and observations of the features of the country as their time will
Upon meeting at the appointed centre of operations, they will organize,
with proper field discipline, and proceed to make their surveys in opposite
The other parties will startone from Fort Kearney, or some point
in the State of Missouri; the other, from the Western slope of the Sierra
The minutia or details for surveying cannot be given here; but we will
assume that a general letter of instruction is forwarded to each Resident
Engineer, somewhat as follows:
To the Resident Engineer of 1st Division Pacific Railroad Survey:
The information thus obtained is collated at the offices at San Francisco
and St. Louis, grades put on the profiles, calculations of quantities and
plans of structures made, a report, embodying all the information written,
and the results of the first and only practical, reliable survey of the
Pacific railroad ever made presented to the public.
Sir: You are hereby invested with the charge of the 1st division
of Pacific Railroad Survey, extending from Fort Kearney westward 600 miles,
and for that purpose are provided with a party, complete in all its equipments
and details, sufficient to make the survey in, say six months' time.
You will run your lines with a Transit Instrument or Goneometer, taking
angles by vernier, but each tangent is to be checked by compass. In this
survey it is not necessary that any time be spent in endeavoring to get
long, straight lines. You will change the direction of your lines, as may
be necessary, in order to find the best ground. Believing that, with the
instrument furnished you, sights of 1,000 feet can be taken, and it being
difficult to procure or carry a sufficient number of stakes without impeding
your progress, you had best leave a permanent mark, by stake and peg only
at 1,000 feet intervals; but the intermediate distance is to be chained
over, and temporary points given as often as the undulations of the ground
may require for the Levellers.
You will observe that party is furnished you for taking trigonometrical
observations and gathering important information upon either side of the
line. They can be used in tracing up the courses, or rise and fall, of
streams, rivers, water courses, &c., examining other ground in the
vicinity of the line, running out cross sections, examining the nature
of soil, and procuring information with regard to timber, stone, water,
A topographer is also furnished, whose business will be to sketch topography,
taking notes of every feature presenting itself in order to insure a full
and accurate delineation of the line.
The leveling party is sufficiently strong to enable them to keep up
with the transit party, and it is considered of great importance that this
should be done. Instruct them to leave benches at intervals of not less
than one mile along the whole route, and particularly to note the lines
of high water in the various river, water-courses, &c., which they
cross or run in proximity of. They will be careful, in the crossing of
all rivers, to take such levels as will give the exact cross sections of
the same at point of crossing, the level of the present water, its depth
at frequent intervals, its velocity, the character of its foundations,
and the soil upon either side.
You will observe that another leveling party is provided for the purpose
of running a test-level. The consequences of an error in reading lights
or making up notes on so long a line of surveys would be so annoying that
this test-level party has been provided for the simple purpose of insuring
accuracy in the levels. You will issue orders that the notes of the leveling
party be made up either in the field or at night each day, and compared
with the test-levels, and that any discrepancies or errors discovered by
Let all field-notes be taken in the fullest and plainest manner, perfectly
systematized, with each book numbered, labeled and paged, and a table of
contents made out, so that any person can refer to the same for any information
contained therein, and find it without trouble.
The business of the draughtsman will be to plot up the work of each
day as it progresses, putting on all the notes taken by topographic and
trignometrical parties; and you will have an exact copy of all this work
made to be forwarded to the St. Louis office, as hereinafter mentioned.
Once in each month you will forward, by express, to the office at St.
Louis, copies of your maps, profiles, and a journal of your proceedings,
with all information of every kind and nature which you have gained, with
such suggestions and advice as you may have to offer.
Upon arriving at the end of your division you will probably be required
to proceed to the assistance of the Resident Engineer on division No. 2.
You will find detailed orders awaiting you there.
Whether or not this is worth $200,000 let the public judge.
This being done we come to the consideration of another important part
of the subject, that is, raising the capital necessary to build this road.
It will be remembered that there have been built in the United States
25,000 miles of railroad, costing $1,000,000,000 (one thousand millions
of dollars). The fact is therefore apparent, that the money can not only
be had with which to construct railroads but that nearly ten times as much
as been raised within the last twenty years for this purpose.
It is believed that the subject of the Pacific Railroad is pretty well
understood throughout the United States, and it is deservedly popular.
If true that it is popular, let us try its popularity in dollars and
us see how much its popularity is worth. We will assume that such a survey
as the one projected has been made, and that is has developed the fact
that a practicable line exists at a cost of $150,000,000. This is a large
sum, and for 2,000 miles of road would give $75,000 per mile. For example,
we will assume that the route adopted is the Central. By examining with
care and attention a map of the United States, it is found that fifteen
wealthy and prosperous States will be directly benefited by the construction
of the road upon this route, while three other States would be sufficiently
benefited to throw their influence upon this locality. If then, we can
combine the influence and interests of these fifteen States upon one route,
by dividing the 150,000,000 among them, the average will be $10,000,000
It is not to be understood that it would be fair to make an equal division
of this amount among the Statesfor some are richer, more able to contribute,
and more benefited than othersbut for our present purposes, in order
to make it as plain and simple as possible, we will consider that each
state is to raise $10,000,000. According to the plan here presented, the
Pacific Railroad could be built in ten years. The whole amount will be
called in in ten annual instalments. This, then, would give $1,000,000
per year, for ten years, as the amount to be contributed from each State.
Now that this amount of $1,000,000 per year could be withdrawn from
each State, for ten years, without its being felt, no one doubts. The question
to be solved is, how can this result be obtained in the quickest and most
reliable manner? There are various means, and many schemes will be devised
to attain this result. It might be justly argued, that the States might
impose a direct tax upon real estate. This would probably be the most equitable
mode of raising the money, but a real estate tax is the most difficult
kind of a one to impose, most warmly contested, and could never be carried
in fifteen States.
This mode requires legislation, and any attempt at legislation, is
for our project, the signal of defeat. We start with this assumed as an
incontrovertible fact; we must build the road without legislation.
Some one proposes that each State issues her bonds, for this purpose
for $10,000,000. This is a very beautiful mode of raising the money, but
carries with it the same objection as the preceding one.
No, the only feasible plan is to raise the money by private subscription;
and we propose to discuss the subject, and show how it can be done.
As has been before stated, the project of a Pacific Railroad is a popular
one, and there are thousandsnay, hundreds of
thousandsof public spirited,
intelligent individuals who would give out and out a moderate sum, in proportion
to their means, without ever expecting a return for the same, did they
feel confident that this project was a practicable one, and that their
money would be invested in the legitimate construction of the road, and
not squandered or wasted among speculators.
Suppose that our survey being made the route is found to be a practicable
one, and its cost, as per estimate of the engineer, ascertained.
In order that there shall be no question as to the cost of the road,
let a board of five or six of the most eminent and skilful Railroad Engineers
in the country be selected to examine the estimate, as made by the Engineer
of the survey, and let each one report his opinion of its cost. Take then,
if you please, the highest estimate returned, and assume this to be the
cost of the road. The question, then, of the cost of the road out to be
satisfactorily settled in such manner as to entitle it to the confidence
of the public. Two preliminary points are then settled.
Let then the report of the Engineer be published, and, accompanying
it, put for a plain, simple, concise statement of the plan proposed for
raising the money, and for building the road. Divest it of everything speculative,
and send a copy to every editor in these fifteen States, asking their aid
and co-operation. Send copies to all public spirited men in every town
and village, and then call public meetings, at which the report and plan
shall be read and discussed, so that it shall be fully understood by the
people. Let these meetings then appoint a delegate to a State convention
of delegates, for the purpose of choosing a delegate to attend the general
conventioneach State sending one delegate. Let this man be the best man
in the Stateone in whom the whole have the most perfect
solely on the grounds of merit and reliability and honesty, irrespective
of party or profession.
Let then these fifteen State delegates convene, and apportion to the
respective States the amounts to be therein raised, and each delegate be
invested with power to appoint such agents as may be necessary to carry
out the details of the plan in his State.
Upon returning to his State, and upon consultation with, and the advice
of, the delegates in his State, let this amount so apportioned, be apportioned
to the various counties, in the proper amount for such county to raise,
and let an agent be appointed for the purpose of transacting all business
appertaining to the same in his county.
Let this agent give good and satisfactory bonds in an amount equal
to the amount apportioned to his county, and receive subscriptions requiring
at least ten per cent down at time of subscribing. Let a great simultaneous
effort be made throughout the whole country at one and the same time. Let
popular speakers be employed in behalf of the enterprise. Let it be impressed
upon the public that it is a people's railroad; that is not a stupendous
speculation for a few to enrich themselves with. Show them that it is entirely
in their hands and under their control; that its officers and managers
are to be appointed by them, and hold office only at their pleasure. Explain
that every agent in each county is under their eye; that the money which
he receives from them is to be deposited as they direct; that his office,
books and accounts are to be open at all times to their inspection. When
he receives a subscription the name, date and per centage are all matters
of record; that each month he shall make a report of all business. Let
the papers strive to induce a spirit of emulation between counties and
districts, by publishing the various amounts raised in various counties,
districts, or by individuals.
Let the lecturers show that there is not a man in the whole community
who has hands to labor with who cannot afford to take one share of $100,
and pay $10 per year, or three cents per day, in upon it; that there is
no retail merchant, doing even an ordinary business, who cannot afford
to take ten shares and pay in his $100 per year, or thirty-three cents
per day. How many of them pay five times that amount for superfluities;
let them show that there is money enough thrown away each year in superfluous
luxuries to build a Pacific Railroad each year.
Show them that the money is not thrown or even given away; that a receipt
or certificate is given to them for each instalment, which represents so
much money paid, and which out to be worth its face in all business transactions.
A treasurer's receipt for ten dollars out to be as good as a ten dollar
bill. When the instalments are paid in up to the one hundred cents on the
dollar, which can be done at any time, they receive one full share of capital
stock, which is actually worth $100. If they have children what better
heirloom can they leave them than shares of this stock? The road will
become profitable even before its completion, but by the time they are
old enough to commence in the world for themselves, with their judgments
ripened, so they can appreciate and take care of it, here are the shares
of stock representing so much money, saved for them, perhaps from earnings
which would have been dissipated and thrown away in useless luxuries, &c.
This stock ought to pass current in market, like land warrants, for
its face. What better basis for banking could be had? In those State where
banks are obligated to purchase an amount of State or other stocks equal
to their capital stock, which is held as security, let this stock be taken
in the same way.
It is then to the interest of every body to keep up the credit of the
stock, for every body is then interested in it. Nothing can affects its
value but mismanagement. How can this road be mismanaged when the people
themselves manage it? If built upon this plan it cannot become embarrassed.
It is let tothe lowest responsible bidder, for cash; this insures its
being built economically. It is paid for in cash as the work progresses;
this insures the steady progress of the work, and enables the company to
perform their pay of the stipulation of the contract without embarrassment,
thereby giving the contractor no cause to present bills for delay, detention,
or neglect to pay estimates when due; and as the cash is called in from
the stockholders only as wanted to carry on the work, it leaves no enormous
fund on hand as a prey for dishonest agents, speculators, &c., but
leaves the money in the people's own pockets until wanted and called for
to pay for work already done, or being done.
There is no money to be borrowed at enormous rates of interest; no
loans to be negotiated in Europe; no first, second or third mortgage bonds
to be issued and sacrificed at one-half their value; there are no commissions
to be paid to negotiators. There is no mortgage on the road; it is built
and paid for as built in ready money. It is a clean thing, built and owned
by the people, for its actual cost and no more.
By what other mans can this object be accomplished? Can the United
States Government do it? Have they done it? Have they tried? No, and they
will not; and what is more the people do not much care to have them, for
they have little confidence in their ability to carry it out economically,
or to protect themselves and the treasury from the rapacious clutches of
the hungry speculators who would swarm round them like vultures round a
dead carcass. Can a private company of moonshine
speculatorsdo it? They maythat is, if they can induce simple-minded
individuals to invest enough to give them a start, and then, upon the principle
of putting in more to save what they have already invested, may drag its
slow length along, and in thirty, or forty, or fifty years may build a
railroad; but what a railroad! Say twenty millions of its cost has been
actually paid in in good faith by the stockholders, then we will find a
first mortgage, at eight percent., of say fifty millions of dollars; a
second mortgage of fifty millions, at say ten percent; a third convertible
mortgage of say fifty millions, at say ten percent., and a floating debt
of fifty millions besides. We will find that a few men have become enormously
wealthy, that English bondholders own the road, and that it takes all the
earnings to pay the interest.
It is a great and national treasure, worthy the attention of our Government,
and should in fact be built by them; but, as before mentioned, the proposition
carries the elements of its own destruction with it.What is the difference?
If built by Government the people will have to pay for it; in the present
case people pay for it.
The difference is here: In this case it is built by the spontaneous
free will of those of the people who favor and are willing to pay for it,
and who desire to protect the public purse from plunder, believing themselves
better able to manage it than their political representatives.
On the other hand, if built by Government it is built by a political
party, is a stepping stone to power, and will present upon a grand scale
a repetition of the scenes enacted in some of our States, where the State
works are used to control the legislation of the State.
Nor will the sectional prejudices of the partisans of the different
localities ever allow Government to build the Road upon any one route,
for rather than not have their own route they will not have any. Neither
is it desirable to build three, for one is all that is needed. The action
of Congress, however, in this present session, will soon decide, if they
will vote in favor of Government's even encouraging the construction of
three routes. This is the only kind of a bill which can pass Congress.
These are some of the arguments which can be used to promote the objects
of this plan, and being true will not be without their effect.
When a certain amount has been thus subscribed, let the stockholders
call a meeting for the purpose of electing one director from each State,
for the formation of a Board of Directors to carry into effect the construction
of the Road.
With an amount equal to fifteen millions per year, they will determine
upon the amount of work to be put under contract. Let, say 100 miles of
each end of the Road be located and put under contract. Let notices be
issued, publicly inviting proposals from contractors, and the work be
let for the lowest responsible bidder, the work to be completed in, say
one year; but, in order to prosecute the work with greater economy of time,
say 200 miles of each end built within two years; this can be done, and
there are plenty of responsible companies of contractors who will undertake
the same, and fulfil their contracts for cash payments.
This done and, at the expiration of two years, we have 400 miles of
the Pacific Railroad completed, the gap narrowed up to 1,600 miles, and
the Road so completed that the material for construction of the next divisions
can be carried out over it. The road would commence to pay something as
soon as this were done.
During this two years the Engineer is preparing another two hundred
miles of each end for letting, other contracts are made for its construction,
and built in the same manner; and thus, in like manner, each succeeding
division is built every two years, shortening up the gap, and bring more
travel to the road. In ten years the whole road can be constructed upon
As this plan is open to the criticism of the public, and may be commented
on by those who may discover what they may deem to be a mare's nests, among
its details. As, for instance, it may be stated that this plan makes no
difference for the kinds of work to be done, but builds two hundred miles
of each end of the road in the same length of time, and for the same amount
of money, when one end is over plains and prairie lands is remarkably easy,
while the other end is over mountains and valleys is remarkably hard, will
take twice as long, and cost twice as much.
To all such objections it is answered that this plan does not propose
to accomplish impossibilities, nor does it presume without a survey to
assign the exact lengths of road, or amounts of work to be done per year,
but that it speaks generally; and upon an average when it says two hundred
miles of each end, simply for the sake of illustrating the principle of
the thing. It means to say that, with a certain amount of money to expend
upon each end, a certain amount of work is to be accomplished; and that
if it should prove to be one hundred miles upon one, and three hundred
miles upon the other end, the average of them would be the two hundred
miles of each end. But it does mean to be understood that it advocates
in the strongest manner the building of the road from the two ends by divisions,
and perhaps from the centre each way, if deemed advisable, after the facts
have been ascertained. If it is found, as has been represented, that in
the vicinity of Salt Lake exists an abundance of the best quality of iron
and coal, it is not unlikely that it may be found profitable to manufacture
the iron for middle divisions there.
There is one more point which may not be amiss here to touch upon,
and that is the construction of a wagon or stage road upon the route of
This should be regarded as a preliminary step in the construction of
the Railroad, and should be the first thing done. It is necessary for many good
reasons, and can be so constructed, that all the labor expended on it shall
count as so much toward the other.
A wagon road is indispensable, for over it will have to be carried
the supplies for the Railroad; it will induce settlers to come in and locate
upon its line, knowing for a certainty that, in a few years, the Railroad
will be built, when they will be properly located. Farms will be laid out,
fenced in, and farmers will commence raising grain, cattle, and all the
necessities requisite to feed those employed in constructing the Railroad;
they will be sure of finding a market for their produce without being obligated
to haul it hundreds of miles. Little villages will spring up at points,
where it is proposed to have depots; and when the time comes for building
the Railroad, instead of finding a wilderness inhabited by savage or hostile
Indians, it will have been transformed into a country of life and animation,
teeming with all the results of culture and civilization; here they will
find rich farms, well stocked with all the necessaries of life, cultivated
by a band of thrifty western farmers, with their churches and their school-housesis
it doubted? California is not yet ten years old, yet seven years ago its
present state would have been doubted.
But let this wagon road be located anywhere but on the line of this
Railroad, and the reverse will be the result. Who will come in and make
permanent improvements, with the knowledge that, in a few years, they may
be hundreds of miles from the right locality?
If this wagon road is built by Government, in advance, let it be done
on the line of the Railroad survey, a more proper location cannot be found,
for they will seek the best ground, the lowest summits, and the best crossings
of rivers. All the work done on it will be as so much done towards the
Railroad, and not thrown away. If the survey shows a cut of forty or fifty
feet, at some particular point or hill upon which the Railroad, take off
eight or ten feet for the wagon road and carry it out into embankment.
It would be the best policy, even if the wagon road appropriation were
but four hundred thousand dollars, to expend one half if it in making a
With regard to many of the objections urged against this project, it
is answered, that no great project of the kind ever originated without
similar ones. That there are portions of the route where snows exist, and
which may form an impediment to the running of trains, is conceded. And
this is one of the points which a survey of the kind proposed will solve.
We know there are snows, but do not know to what extent they exist, or
how deep they are. With such a survey the depth of snow at each hundred
feet is measured in feet and inches; it is ascertained, whether and how
much is caused by drifts, and how much by natural fall. Cross sections
are run out, and the depth of snow taken on each side of the line. Other
passes or slopes are examined, to find where the least snow exists; the
temperature is taken each day; the force and direction of the wind, &c.,
These depths of snow are plotted on the Engineer's profile, and then
he is ready to answer any questions that may be asked, by referring to
his profile, he can tell in feet and inches the exact or greatest depth
of snow at each hundred feet through the snow regionthis is the sort
of information we want. It is not sufficient to know that Mr. A or Mr.
B has pronounced the Pacific Railroad impracticable on a certain route,
because he has seen or rode over snow drifts a hundred feet deep. He may
be mistaken in its depth, as he has not measured it; and the route for
this road is not necessarily to be located through all the immense snow
drifts of the Rocky and Sierra Nevada mountains. We expect that there will
be a division of this road, on which snows will exist; but that must be
managed accordingly. Upon the great roads leading across the Allegheny
mountains, there are divisions, where the grades and curves are light, and
the engines built with a view to run rapidly. There are also divisions
where the grades and curves are heavy, and the engines and the entire management
of the division different from the others. So with our mountain
we are to have snows, we must prepare for them. The worst points for drifts
are very soon determined. Put on men the whole length of the snow line;
where most needed have most men; let them live there, if necessary, and
do nothing but shovel snow. Build comfortable houses with huge
for accommodation of the passengers at all these worst places, so that,
if the trains are detained, they shall be comfortable; put on powerful
engines, with the best snow plows, and keep them running constantly; and,
if the sun will not melt, try a little indomitable Yankee energy and perseverance
on themthat will melt almost anything.
Obstructions from snow is not a new thing. There is scarcely a road
in the northern or middle States [that] is not partially obstructed with
snow in the winter season. The writer has ridden in a stage over snow drifts
twenty-five feet deep, in the Green mountains; and, while riding, could
see the fall of frozen lumps of earth, in the formation of a Railroad embankment,
sixty feet high, in process of construction across these mountains, and
now completed. In the New England States, Maine particularly, and in the
Canadas, snows are as violent, lasting and deep. Were a person to travel
in these countries who was not accustomed to the construction and working
of Railroads, he would be very likely to ridicule the idea of building
and running Railroads there. Nevertheless, they are built and run profitably.
So will it be found with the Pacific Railroad.