Union Pacific Railway

April 1, 1867


The Intercontinental Railroad (Union Pacific Railway) is under construction on both ends. The western front had to employ even more employees for construction through the Rocky Mountains which surpasses the number of employees they originally thought would be hired.


We gather from a debate in the United States Senate a few days since that this great railway is completed 300 miles west of Omaha, which is on the western boundary of Iowa. It is only 300 miles from its present terminus to the foot of the Rocky mountains. [A very unmeaning name. All mountains are rocky. The Spaniards called them "Shining mountains," because, when they first beheld them, the sunlight was brilliantly reflected on the snows which crowned their summits. Some unreclaimable dolt a practical man, without poetry or taste, and with no surplus of reason, called them, afterwards, "Rocky mountains!"] Three hundred and five miles of road were built the past year, and the work was suspended early in winter because of the severity of the cold and the impossibility of digging into the earth to make the roadbed. During the winter, however, the company has been active in forwarding material of all sorts for a railroad, and will have so large an amount at the present terminus by the time or recommencing operations that the progress this year will be perhaps greater than that of the last. The line of work from the Pacific eastward has also been vigorously prosecuted. Mr. Conness, the senator from California, stated that during the present severe winter twelve thousand men have been employed upon the Central Pacific railroad seven thousand feet above the sea, near the summit of the Sierra Nevada mountains, where the snows fall to an immense depth. This statement is astonishing, but coming from the honorable senator in his place in the Senate it must be considered reliable. It affords some idea of the magnitude of the immense undertaking of connecting the Atlantic and Pacific by rail, some 2,300 miles from the Mississippi, and upwards of 3,000 miles from sea to sea. The senatoi stated that the company were using every effort to build their road, and as the United States Government furnished them with nearly money enough for that purpose, they would not be retarded by want of means. The Union Pacific Railway receives a subsidy of $16,000 per mile on all their road this side the base of the Rocky mountains; beyond that they are to receive $48,000 per mile. But the President of the United States is to say at what point the road is to strike the base of that range of mountains. The company have applied for his decision, and will no doubt have it in time to progress without delay. Assisted so liberally by the Government, and with such immense forces employed in the work, it will not be more than a year or two before the line of laborers working from east and west strike hands in the vast ranges of mountains constituting the backbone of this continent.
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Walker Black




“Union Pacific Railway,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed March 30, 2023, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/560.