Modern history



1. Oscar Osburn Winther, The Transportation Frontier: 1865–1890 (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964), pp. 48–49; Butterfield Overland Mail–The Pinery, Guadalupe Mountains National Park brochure, 1988; Lyle H. Wright and Josephine M. Bynum, eds., The Butterfield Overland Mail (San Marino, Calif.: Huntington Library, 1942), pp. 72–76.

2. W. H. Emory, Notes on a Military Reconnaissance from Fort Leavenworth, in Missouri, to San Diego, in California, Including Parts of the Arkansas, Del Norte, and Gila Rivers, 30th Cong., 1st sess., H.R. Ex. Doc. 41, pp. 35–36.

3. “The consequences of such”: William H. Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West, 1803–1863 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979), p. 209. Colonel Abert should not be confused with his son, Lieutenant James W. Abert, who served in New Mexico in 1846.

4. Goetzmann, Army Exploration, p. 263.

5. Goetzmann, Army Exploration, pp. 218–19, 265.

6. Congressional Globe, 32nd Cong., 2nd sess., vol. 26 (March 2, 1853), p. 841.

7. Goetzmann, Army Exploration, p. 262.

8. Calculating grade requires basic trigonometry. The rise (or fall) of a line over its particular run (distance) is expressed as a percentage. A vertical rise in elevation of 52.8 feet over a horizontal distance of 1 mile equals a grade of 1 percent—quite gentle (52.8 divided by 5,280 equals .01, or 1 percent). A rise of 211 feet over 1 mile makes for a grade of 4 percent—quite steep in railroad terms.

9. Reports of the Explorations and Surveys, to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, 33rd Cong., 2nd sess., H.R. Ex. Doc. 91 (hereinafter Pacific Railroad Reports; note the reports are individually paginated, although they may be combined in one volume), vol. 1, p. iv.

10. Goetzmann, Army Exploration, p. 305.

11. Jefferson Davis, “Introduction,” Pacific Railroad Reports, vol. 1, p. 12.

12. Philip Henry Overmeyer, “George B. McClellan and the Pacific Northwest,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly 32 (1941): 48–60.

13. Isaac I. Stevens, Narrative and Final Report of Explorations for a Route for a Pacific Railroad near the Forty-seventh and Forty-ninth Parallels of North Latitude from St. Paul to Puget Sound, Pacific Railroad Reports, vol. 12, p. 331.

14. Goetzmann, Army Exploration, p. 283.

15. For an account, see Howard Stansbury, An Exploration to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake of Utah (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1852).

16. E. G. Beckwith, Report of Explorations for a Route for the Pacific Railroad, by Capt. J. W. Gunnison, Topographical Engineers, near the 38th and 39th Parallels of North Latitude, from the Mouth of the Kansas River, Mo., to the Sevier Lake, in the Great Basin, Pacific Railroad Reports, vol. 2, p. 85.

17. Beckwith, Report, Pacific Railroad Reports, vol. 2, pp. 56, 70.

18. Benton was so obsessed with the 38th parallel corridor that he financed two private expeditions along it that same year. Edward Fitzgerald Beale, who had just been appointed Indian agent for California and Nevada under Benton’s patronage, led one party. Lest Gunnison’s official report prove negative, Benton hedged his bets by dispatching an eastern reporter named Gwin Harris Heap along with Beale as his press agent. Frémont led the other private excursion, although having apparently learned nothing from his 1848 trip, he again entered the mountains late in the season and achieved little more than following on Gunnison’s heels (Goetzmann, Army Exploration, p. 284).

19. A. W. Whipple, Report of Explorations for a Railway Route near the Thirty-fifth Parallel of North Latitude from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, Pacific Railroad Reports, vol. 3, p. 132; cost estimates in Report of Captain A. A. Humphreys, Top. Engineers, upon the Progress of the Pacific Railroad Explorations and Surveys, 34th Cong., 1st sess., Senate Ex. Doc. 1, pt. 2, p. 94.

20. John G. Parke, Report of Explorations for That Portion of a Railroad Route, Near the Thirty-second Parallel of North Latitude, Lying Between Dona Ana, on the Rio Grande, and Pimas Villages, on the Gila, Pacific Railroad Reports, vol. 2, pp. 4, 18–19.

21. John Pope, Report of Exploration of a Route for the Pacific Railroad, near the Thirty-second Parallel of North Latitude, from the Red River to the Rio Grande, Pacific Railroad Reports, vol. 2, p. 56.

22. Pope, Report, Pacific Railroad Reports, vol. 2, pp. 35, 49–50.

23. Congressional Globe, 35th Cong., 2nd sess., pt. 1 (December 14, 1858), p. 73.


1. “Nothing stops us”: William Jackson Palmer Collection, Stephen H. Hart Library, Colorado Historical Society, Denver (hereinafter Palmer Collection), Box 8, File Folder (FF) 641 (Palmer to Isaac Clothier, June 23, 1853).

2. “spending the time”: John S. Fisher, A Builder of the West: The Life of General William Jackson Palmer (Caldwell, Idaho: The Caxton Printers, 1939), p. 40; salary in Palmer Collection, Box 3, FF 223 (Palmer daily pocket diary, June 1, 1857).

3. “John Edgar Thomson,” Dictionary of American Biography, vol. 18 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1943), p. 486; Albro Martin, Railroads Triumphant: The Growth, Rejection, and Rebirth of a Vital American Force (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp. 260–61; James A. Ward, J. Edgar Thomson: Master of the Pennsylvania (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980), pp. 25, 42.

4. Ward, Thomson, pp. 70, 78, 80, 90; Timothy Jacobs, The History of the Pennsylvania Railroad (Greenwich, Conn.: Bonanza Books, 1988), pp. 21, 24–25.

5. “Quick-witted, dapper”: Ward, Thomson, p. 95–96; “the best investment”: Martin, Railroads Triumphant, pp. 263–64; see also Scott biography at and “Reassessing Tom Scott, the ‘Railroad Prince,’ ” a paper given for the Mid-America Conference on History, Furman University, September 16, 1995, by T. Lloyd Benson and Trina Rossman.

6. “You Pennsylvania people”: Lela Barnes, ed., “Letters of Cyrus Kurtz Holliday, 1854–1859,” Kansas Historical Quarterly 6 (August 1937): 249 (Holliday to Mary Holliday, December 31, 1854); Holliday biographical information from Keith L. Bryant, Jr., History of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1974), pp. 4–9; L. L. Waters, Steel Trails to Santa Fe (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1950), pp. 24–29.

7. This account of Huntington’s early years is from David Lavender, The Great Persuader (New York: Doubleday, 1970), specifically, “a fine trip,” p. 39. In December 1887, when the Frémonts moved from New York to Los Angeles for his health, they were nearly destitute after numerous fortunes made and lost. Collis P. Huntington, then at the height of his railroad powers, gave them free passage. Pride initially forced Frémont to reject the offer, but Huntington was quick with a magnanimous reply: “You forget,” he told the old explorer, “our road goes over your buried campfires and climbs many a grade you jogged over on a mule; I think we rather owe you this.” Tom Chaffin, Pathfinder: John Charles Frémont and the Course of American Empire (New York: Hill and Wang, 2002), pp. 3–4.

8. Thirteenth Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Rail Road Company, pp. 20–21; quoted in Brit Allan Storey, “William Jackson Palmer: A Biography,” unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Kentucky, 1968, p. 38.

9. Palmer Collection, Box 9, FF 696 (Palmer to John and Matilda Palmer, September 10, 1859).

10. Palmer Collection, Box 4, FF 243 (draft letter, Thomson to Gov. Hon. Alex Stevens [sic], Ga, undated; back has “Manuscript of letter to Hon. Jno. C. Kunkel relative to Pacific Railroad May 20, 1858.” In another hand: “proposed but never sent J. Edgar Thomson”).

11. Palmer Collection, Box 4, FF 250 (Ellet to Palmer, March 19, 1860).

12. Palmer Collection, Box 7, FF 496 (Palmer to Lamborn, March 6, 1861).


1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, vol. 2, p. 596, hereinafter cited as Official Records (Thomson to Cameron, April 23, 1861).

2. Official Records, Series 1, vol. 2, p. 596 (Thomson to Cameron, April 23, 1861).

3. Palmer Collection, Box 2, FF 78 (Scott to Palmer, May 8, 1861).

4. Fisher, A Builder of the West, p. 75.

5. Palmer Collection, Box 3, FF 184 (Palmer to Jackson, April 10, 1862).

6. David Haward Bain, Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad (New York: Penguin Books, 1999), p. 110.

7. Bain, Empire Express, pp. 106–8.

8. Lavender, The Great Persuader, pp. 97–98; Bain, Empire Express, p. 110.

9. Bain, Empire Express, pp. 112–14.

10. Bain, Empire Express, pp. 115–16; U.S. Statutes at Large, 37th Cong., 2nd sess., chap. 120 (1862), pp. 492–95; for an analysis of the traditional “drawn the elephant” quote, see Lavender, The Great Persuader, pp. 113, 391n5.

11. Robert C. Black III, The Railroads of the Confederacy (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1952), pp. 185–91.

12. John Bowers, Chickamauga and Chattanooga: The Battles That Doomed the Confederacy (New York: Avon Books, 1995), pp. 136–38, 153.

13. “the most monstrous and flagrant”: Congressman E. B. Washburne of Illinois comments in Congressional Globe, 40th Cong., 2nd sess. (March 26, 1868), p. 2136.

14. U.S. Statutes at Large, 38th Cong., 1st sess., chap. 216 (1864), pp. 358, 360.

15. “How dare you”: Bain, Empire Express, p. 179; see also Lavender, The Great Persuader, pp. 152–53, and U.S. Statutes at Large, 38th Cong., 1st sess., chap. 216 (1864), p. 363.

16. Official Records, Series 1, vol. 49, pt. 2, pp. 488–89 (Thomas to Stoneman, April 27, 1865); Official Records, Series 1, vol. 49, pt. 1, p. 548 (Report of Bvt. Brig. Gen. William J. Palmer, May 6, 1865).

17. Official Records, Series 1, vol. 49, pt. 1, pp. 550–54 (Reports of Bvt. Brig. Gen. William J. Palmer, May 1865); “General Wilson held”: Charles H. Kirk, ed., History of the Fifteenth Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry (Philadelphia: Society of the Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, 1906), p. 517.

18. Palmer Collection, Box 3, FF 194 (Palmer to Jackson, June 23, 1865).

19. Samuel Bowles, Across the Continent: A Summer’s Journey to the Rocky Mountains, the Mormons, and the Pacific States, with Speaker Colfax (Springfield, Mass.: Samuel Bowles & Company, 1865), “It was a magnificent”: p. 18, “I believe”: p. 412.

20. John Hoyt Williams, A Great & Shining Road (New York: Times Books, 1988), p. 72.


1. Troop numbers in Official Records, Series 3, vol. 5, p. 494 (Stanton to the president, November 22, 1865); “Can you meet me”: Storey, “William Jackson Palmer: A Biography,” p. 142 (Scott to Palmer, July 26, 1865, telegram); Palmer Collection, Box 9, FF 690 (Palmer to Jackson, August 7, 1865).

2. Maury Klein, Union Pacific: The Birth of a Railroad, 1862–1893 (New York: Doubleday, 1987), pp. 27–28, 36–37; Bain, Empire Express, pp. 162, 168; Charles N. Glaab, Kansas City and the Railroads (Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1962), pp. 112–13, 117–21, 231–32, specifically, “the biggest swindle yet,” p. 121. For a version more favorable to Hallett, see Alan W. Farley, “Samuel Hallett and the Union Pacific Railway Company in Kansas,” Kansas Historical Quarterly, 25, no. 1 (Spring 1959): 1–16.

3. “Scott drove a pretty hard bargain” and “Young men without money”: Palmer Collection, Box 9, FF 690 (Palmer to Jackson, August 25, 1865); Lavender, The Great Persuader, pp. 173–74, 214; Klein, Union Pacific, Birth, pp. 79–80; U.S. Statutes at Large, 39th Cong., 1st sess., chap. 159 (1866), pp. 79–80.

4. George Anderson, General William J. Palmer: A Decade of Colorado Railroad Building, 1870–1880 (Colorado Springs: Colorado College Publication, 1936), pp. 14–15; Kansas Pacific construction dates and mileages in Palmer Collection, Box 4, FF 287 (Report of the Condition and Progress of the Union Pacific Railway, E.D., for the year ending September 30, 1867); UP reaching 100th meridian in Bain, Empire Express, p. 290; UP construction mileage in Lavender, The Great Persuader, p. 175.

5. Palmer Collection, Box 8, FF 606 (Thomson to Perry, March 20, 1867). Palmer gave one version of the change in route from the Republican River to the Smoky Hill on September 21, 1867, during an address to citizens of New Mexico while surveying the line’s continuation. The “political reasons” for the line’s original northward bent had vanished with the end of the war, he said, and “an independent trunk line through to the Pacific, on a latitude free from those wintry obstacles” was thought best. In Palmer Collection, Box 4, FF 287 (“Address of William Jackson Palmer Delivered Before a Meeting of Citizens of New Mexico, at Santa Fe, September 21, 1867”).

6. William J. Palmer, Report of Surveys Across the Continent, in 1867–68, on the Thirty-fifth and Thirty-second Parallels, for a Route Extending the Kansas Pacific Railway to the Pacific Ocean at San Francisco and San Diego (Philadelphia: W. B. Selheimer, printer, 1869), specifically, “to ascertain the best” p. 3, “dry and inferior country,” p. 13; “by far the best”: William A. Bell, New Tracks in North America: A Journal of Travel and Adventure Whilst Engaged in the Survey for a Southern Railroad to the Pacific Ocean in 1867–1868 (London: Chapman and Hall, 1870), pp. 94–95. Bell was an Englishman and doctor by training, who signed on as the expedition’s photographer because that was the only vacancy. He spent a frantic couple of weeks learning to use the expedition’s photographic equipment.

7. “General Palmer held”: Bell, New Tracks, p. 152; “the decided preference”: ibid., pp. 245–46.

8. Bell, New Tracks, pp. 254–55, 286–88; “information as to”: p. 327; “they seemed to me,” p. 367; “radiating from the coast inland,” p. 371.

9. Bell, New Tracks: “A very small place,” p. 315; “an excellent bridging point,” p. 319; pp. 320–21.

10. Bell, New Tracks, pp. 405, 411–20, specifically, “This country belongs,” p. 413, “The grades up to this,” p. 420.

11. “If the Grand Canyon” and “The innumerable side cañons”: Palmer, Report of Surveys, p. 47; Bell, New Tracks, pp. 424–25; Donald Worster, A River Running West: The Life of John Wesley Powell (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 133, 299.

12. “We can never get”: Storey, “William Jackson Palmer,” p. 179, quoting Palmer to John D. Perry, September 17, 1867; “I, of course”: Bain, Empire Express, p. 457, quoting E. B. Crocker to Huntington, January 20, 1868; Bell, New Tracks, pp. 17, 455, 470.

13. “practicable and good”: Palmer, Report of Surveys, p. 181; “The results along”: ibid., pp. 5–6; “the Government should”: ibid., p. 192.

14. “would not think of it” and “would only be a small”: Collis P. Huntington Papers, 1856–1901, microfilm edition in Western History Department, Denver Public Library, Denver (hereinafter cited as Huntington Papers), Series 4, Reel 2 (Huntington to E. B. Crocker, March 13, 1868); “Their proposition was” and “very sharp” and “said if I would”: ibid. (Huntington to E. B. Crocker, March 21, 1868); “agree to what we want”: ibid. (Huntington to Hopkins, March 31, 1868).

15. “Since General Palmer’s return” and “I could do nothing”: Huntington Papers, Series 4, Reel 2 (Huntington to Hopkins, April 13, 1868); New York meeting in ibid. (Huntington to Hopkins, April 17, 1868); “I think we have got”: ibid. (Huntington to E. B. Crocker, April 21, 1868).


1. U.S. Statutes at Large, 37th Cong., 3rd sess., chap. 98 (1863), pp. 772–74. Technically, this congressional legislation conditionally granted the lands to the State of Kansas, which accepted them on February 9, 1864, and in turn passed them on to the Santa Fe and the Leavenworth, Lawrence, and Fort Gibson Railroad and Telegraph Company, with the same conditions. The latter road was to build from Leavenworth to Indian Territory.

2. Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 12–13; “The child is born”: Kansas State Record (Topeka), October 7, 1868.

3. William E. Treadway, Cyrus K. Holliday: A Documentary Biography (Topeka: Kansas State Historical Society, 1979), p. 214 (quoting Holliday to Mary Holliday, August 30, 1873).

4. Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 15, 17–18; “old earth slowly careened”: Joseph W. Snell and Don W. Wilson, “The Birth of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad,” Kansas Historical Quarterly 34, no. 2 (Summer 1968): 135, quoting Osage Chronicle, September 18, 1869.

5. Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 21–24.

6. Kansas Daily Commonwealth (Topeka), April 27, 1872.

7. Joseph W. Snell and Don W. Wilson, “The Birth of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad—Concluded,” Kansas Historical Quarterly 35, no. 3 (Fall 1968): 332–37; “an enterprising railroad town”: Kansas Daily Commonwealth (Topeka), May 30, 1871; “It must be borne”: Emporia News, August 25, 1871.

8. Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 26–29; “This beats anything”: Kansas Daily Commonwealth (Topeka), July 16, 1872; tie boom in Snell and Wilson, “The Birth of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad—Concluded,” p. 348, quoting the Hutchinson News, July 18, 1872.

9. Snell and Wilson, “The Birth of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad—Concluded,” pp. 351–52.

10. Bat Masterson is one of those characters whose myth transcends the facts, but perhaps his most solid biographer is Robert K. DeArment, Bat Masterson: The Man and the Legend (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1979), from which this account of Bat’s Dodge City days is taken, specifically, the grading contract, pp. 19–21; “led the way” and “considered a man,” pp. 32–33; “offering one-hundred-dollar” and the train robbers hunt, pp. 87–95. For Ed’s death, see pp. 97–108.

11. Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 29–31; “ ‘State Line City’ ”: Snell and Wilson, “The Birth of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad—Concluded,” p. 352, quoting Hutchinson News, December 12, 1872; “We send you greeting”: Hutchinson News, January 2, 1873.

12. “The road cannot”: Kansas Daily Commonwealth (Topeka), December 29, 1872.


1. The principal biography of John Evans is Harry E. Kelsey, Jr., Frontier Capitalist: The Life of John Evans (Denver: State Historical Society of Colorado and Pruett Publishing, 1969). Railroads were not the only thing that Evans was interested in building. He was instrumental in founding both Northwestern University and the University of Denver. He ran for Congress in 1854 and campaigned for Lincoln in 1860, which put him in line for a political appointment. He declined the governorship of Washington Territory as too far removed from his Chicago interests but accepted the governorship of Colorado Territory.

2. “Whether famine reigns”: Rocky Mountain News, May 24, 1862.

3. S. D. Mock, “Colorado and the Surveys for a Pacific Railroad,” Colorado Magazine, vol. 17, no. 2 (March 1940): 56–57.

4. Instructions to John Pierce, John Evans Collection, Stephen H. Hart Library, Colorado Historical Society, Denver, Box 7, File Folder (FF) 78 (Evans to Pierce, February 24, 1866), hereinafter cited as Evans Collection by box and file folder number. “The richness of the country”: Evans Collection, Box 7, FF 78 (Pierce to Evans, February 25, 1866); Mock, “Colorado and the Surveys,” pp. 60–61, and Kelsey, Frontier Capitalist, pp. 127, 170–72.

5. S. D. Mock, “The Financing of Early Colorado Railroads,” Colorado Magazine 18, no. 6 (November 1941): 202–3; Kelsey, Frontier Capitalist, pp. 173–74.

6. “I am very busy”: Evans Collection, Box 2, FF 17 (Evans to Margaret Evans, July 5, 1868); Kelsey, Frontier Capitalist, pp. 174–75; Mock, “Financing of Early Colorado Railroads,” pp. 204–205; U.S. Statutes at Large, 40th Cong., 3rd sess., chap. 127 (1869), p. 324; Klein, Union Pacific: Birth, pp. 344–45.

7. Kelsey, Frontier Capitalist, pp. 176–79; Mock, “Financing of Early Colorado Railroads,” pp. 205–6; Palmer Collection, Box 9, FF 304 (Certificate of Interest in Assignment, July 1869); Elmer O. Davis, The First Five Years of the Railroad Era in Colorado(Golden, Colo.: Sage Books, 1948), pp. 38, 90–91; “Everybody and wife”: Colorado Tribune (Denver), June 18, 1870.

8. “Our long agony”: Palmer Collection, Box 9, FF 701 (Palmer to Queen Mellen, July 2, 1869); “Poor Sheridan!”: Palmer Collection, Box 9, FF 706 (Palmer to Queen Mellen, February 13, 1870); “brisk and lively” and “the water about town”: Rocky Mountain News (Weekly), April 27, 1870.

9. “the business men”: Davis, First Five Years, p. 72; tie advertisement in Anderson, Palmer, pp. 32–34; construction schedule and Indian raids in Davis, First Five Years, pp. 70, 74, 76, 78, 94–95; “fighting along our line”: Palmer Collection, Box 9, FF 707 (Palmer to Queen Mellen, May 15, 1870).

10. Rocky Mountain News (Weekly), August 17, 1870.

11. “In the name”: Palmer Collection, Box 7, FF 552 (telegram, Perry to Palmer, August 16, 1870); “The coach has given”: Rocky Mountain News, August 19, 1870; “the only road”: Rocky Mountain News (Weekly), April 27, 1870.

12. Davis, First Five Years, pp. 107–8; see also an inserted supplement in Davis entitled “Completion Dates for the First Trans-continental Railway.”

13. Kelsey, Frontier Capitalist, pp. 180–81. William H. Loveland, who was intent on making the town of Golden, about 15 miles west of Denver, Colorado’s commercial hub, incorporated the Colorado Central and grabbed control of Clear Creek Canyon, leading from Golden to the mining districts of Central City and Black Hawk. Loveland also flirted with the Union Pacific for support of a Golden-Cheyenne connection. When this was not forthcoming, the Colorado Central built down Clear Creek from Golden to connect with the Denver Pacific–Kansas Pacific rail junction just northeast of what remains Denver Union Station.

14. addressing him as “General”: Palmer Collection, Box 9, FF 700 (Palmer to Queen Mellen, April 16, 1869); “a little railroad”: Palmer Collection, Box 9, FF 706 (Palmer to Queen Mellen, January 17, 1870); “laid the smallest” and “but not near enough”:Palmer Collection, Box 9, FF 706 (Palmer to Queen Mellen, February 4, 1870).

15. “run from the Missouri”: U.S. Statutes at Large, 37th Cong., 2nd sess., chap. 120 (July 1, 1862), p. 495; U.S. Statutes at Large, 37th Cong., 3rd sess., chap 112 (March 3, 1863), p. 807; Bain, Empire Express, pp. 131–32.

16. Anderson, William J. Palmer, pp. 54–57; “how fine it would be”: Palmer Collection, Box 9, FF 706 (Palmer to Queen Mellen, January 17, 1870). A key difference in construction costs between the gauges was in rails. Early narrow gauge rails weighed thirty pounds per yard compared to fifty-six pounds for standard gauge.

17. U.S. Statutes at Large, 42nd Cong., 2nd sess., chap. 354 (1872), p. 339; Davis, First Five Years, pp. 152, 163; Tivis E. Wilkins, Colorado Railroads (Boulder, Colo.: Pruett, 1974), pp. 7, 11. The Rio Grande was built largely without federal subsidies or major land grants. After construction began, Congress ratified the railroad’s territorial charter and granted it a right-of-way 200 feet wide through the public domain. It also gave it the same right to condemn private land with appropriate due process that was given to the other Pacific roads under the 1862 act. Finally, the railroad got the privilege of taking timber, stone, and earth from public lands adjacent to the right-of-way and 20 acres of land every 10 miles for station and yard purposes.


1. Oscar Lewis, The Big Four: The Story of Huntington, Stanford, Hopkins, and Crocker, and of the Building of the Central Pacific (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1938), p. 211.

2. Stuart Daggett, Chapters on the History of the Southern Pacific (1922; rpr., New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1966), pp. 120, 122; Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company incorporation at U.S. Statutes at Large, 39th Cong., 1st sess., chap. 278 (1866), pp. 292–99. The San Jose-to-Gilroy extension was technically undertaken by the Santa Clara and Pajaro Valley Railroad Company, just one of many instances where controlling interests, for a variety of reasons, incorporated what were in essence subsidiary companies.

3. Lavender, The Great Persuader, pp. 122, 164, 178, 186.

4. “I notice that you”: Huntington Papers, Series 4, Reel 2 (Huntington to Hopkins, April 14, 1868).

5. Cerinda W. Evans, Collis Potter Huntington, vol. 1 (Newport News, Va.: Mariners’ Museum, 1954), pp. 239–40.

6. Daggett, Southern Pacific, pp. 122–23.

7. Lavender, The Great Persuader, pp. 265–66.

8. Lavender, The Great Persuader, pp. 283, 413n2.

9. Lavender, The Great Persuader, pp. 284–85; Daggett, Southern Pacific, p. 125; see also Lewis B. Lesley, “A Southern Transcontinental Railroad into California: Texas and Pacific Versus Southern Pacific, 1865–1885,” Pacific Historical Review 5, no. 1 (1936): 55; “from a point at”: U.S. Statutes at Large, 41st Cong., 3rd sess., chap. 122 (1871), p. 579; Texas Pacific name change at U.S. Statutes at Large, 42nd Cong., 2nd sess., chap. 132 (1872), p. 59.

10. Robert M. Fogelson, The Fragmented Metropolis: Los Angeles, 1850–1930 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967), pp. 52–56; Lavender, The Great Persuader, pp. 289–91; Los Angeles and San Pedro dates and census, Daggett, Southern Pacific, p. 127.

11. “where the money”: Huntington Papers, Series 4, Reel 2 (Huntington to Hopkins, April 3, 1872). For all his expenditures in pursuit of railroad empires, Huntington stayed quite frugal personally in these lean years, supposedly saying later in life, “Young man, you can’t follow me through life by the quarters I have dropped” (Lewis, The Big Four, p. 213).

12. “It is possible”: Huntington Papers, Series 4, Reel 3 (Huntington to Hopkins, October 29, 1872); New York meeting with Scott in ibid. (Huntington to Hopkins, November 30, 1872); “I thought it would”: ibid. (Huntington to Hopkins, December 13, 1872); “I have been out to see”: ibid. (Huntington to Hopkins, December 3, 1872); floating debt analysis in Julius Grodinsky, Transcontinental Railway Strategy, 1869–1893 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1962), pp. 50–51.

13. Scott’s offer of $16 million and “while I think the property”: Huntington Papers, Series 4, Reel 3 (Huntington to Hopkins, January 17, 1873); “sell anything that” and “I am doing all”: ibid. (Huntington to Hopkins, February 15, 1873).

14. “made up my mind”: Huntington Papers, Series 4, Reel 3 (Huntington to Stanford, February 28, 1873); “I have never seen”: ibid. (Huntington to Hopkins, March 8, 1873); “You know that”: ibid. (Huntington to Hopkins, March 10, 1873).

15. “It looks a little” and “If we do not trade”: Huntington Papers, Series 4, Reel 3 (Huntington to Hopkins, March 11, 1873); “been out today” and “he cannot do anything”: ibid. (Huntington to Hopkins, March 26, 1873). Hopkins and Stanford were also negotiating for a sale of Southern Pacific and/or Central Pacific interests to a group of San Francisco investors fronted by Alfred A. Cohen. Hopkins speculated that Cohen might be working with Scott; see, for example, ibid. (Hopkins to Huntington, February 4, 1873).

16. “Why is it”: Huntington Papers, Series 2, Reel 5 (Huntington to Hopkins, February 20, 1873); “these hellhounds”: ibid. (Huntington to Hopkins, March 3, 1873); “the truth, but nothing more”: ibid. (Huntington to Hopkins, February 27, 1873); testimony generally and destruction of records in Lavender, The Great Persuader, pp. 291–93. Whether it was correct to say that the Big Four operation involved three, four, or five men depended on the dates. Charles Crocker and his brother, Judge E. B. Crocker, sold many of their interests to the other three in 1871 for $900,000 each. When Charles confronted Huntington in the fall of 1873 for his second installment and learned the dire straits the associates were in, he promptly returned his down payment and rejoined the operations. Huntington wasn’t pleased to divide the pie again but needed the money. By then, the judge was incapacitated from a stroke; he died in 1875.

17. “the remote cause”: Treadway, Cyrus K. Holliday, p. 215 (quoting Holliday to Mary Holliday, September 20, 1873); for an economic analysis of the panic of 1873, see Rendigs Fels, “American Business Cycles, 1865–79,” American Economic Review 41, no. 3 (June 1951): 325–49.

18. Grodinsky, Transcontinental Railway Strategy, p. 45.

19. $14,000 payment and “I would not”: Huntington Papers, Series 4, Reel 3 (Huntington to Hopkins, October 29, 1873).


1. Neill C. Wilson and Frank J. Taylor, Southern Pacific: The Roaring Story of a Fighting Railroad (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1952), p. 57; “The figures are large”: Huntington Papers, Series 4, Reel 3 (Huntington to Hopkins, November 24, 1873).

2. Daggett, Southern Pacific, p. 126. Changing the Southern Pacific route created a long and complicated land dispute. Out of the confusion of the priority of railroad land grants versus homesteads acquired from the public domain would come the infamous Mussel Slough land feud, popularized by Frank Norris in his novel The Octopus. The San Joaquin Valley branch was opened to Goshen in August 1872. The continuing Southern Pacific tracks reached another 40 miles south to Delano, California, on July 14, 1873.

3. Lavender, The Great Persuader, pp. 304–5.

4. John R. Signor, Tehachapi: Southern Pacific–Santa Fe (San Marino, Calif.: Golden West Books, 1983), pp. 15–18, 56–57, 80–81. An eighteenth tunnel was built in 1885 just outside of Caliente. It was “daylighted” (collapsed and made into a cut) after major flooding in 1983.

5. “Join hands with” and “We are camped”: Wilson and Taylor, Southern Pacific, pp. 61–62; see also Paul R. Spitzzeri, “The Road to Independence: The Los Angeles and Independence Railroad and the Conception of a City,” Southern California Quarterly 83, no. 1 (Spring 2001): 23–58.

6. Signor, Tehachapi, pp. 18–19, specifically, “time dragged heavily” and “have not only lived”; time schedule, Evans, Huntington, p. 249.

7. “Scott is making”: Huntington Papers, Series 2, Reel 5 (Huntington to Colton, March 22, 1876); Lavender, The Great Persuader, pp. 309–10; “We must split”: Grodinsky, Transcontinental Railway Strategy, p. 64, quoting Colton to Huntington, May 22, 1876.

8. Authorization to prevent waste in Huntington Papers, Series 4, Reel 3 (McCrary to McDowell, September 6, 1877); “So far as going”: ibid. (Crocker to Huntington, September 25, 1877); Lavender, The Great Persuader, pp. 318–19, 322.

9. Bridge specifications in David F. Myrick, Railroads of Arizona, vol. 1, The Southern Roads (Berkeley, Calif.: Howell-North Books, 1975), p. 22; “Bridge Across Colorado”: Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 13 (telegram, Crocker to Huntington, September 30, 1877); “one officer, twelve soldiers”: ibid., Series 4, Reel 3 (telegram, Crocker to Huntington, October 2, 1877); Lavender, The Great Persuader, pp. 323–24.

10. “By the completion” and “By prohibiting”: Huntington Papers, Series 4, Reel 3 (Safford et al. to McCreary [sic], October 1, 1877); “an outrage to be put”: ibid. (Crocker to Huntington, October 5, 1877).

11. “Stanford and Company”: San Francisco Daily Alta California, October 7, 1877; “I do not believe”: Lavender, The Great Persuader, p. 323, quoting Colton to Huntington, late September 1877.

12. Huntington’s account of his conversation with President Hayes is in Huntington Papers, Series 2, Reel 6 (Huntington to Colton, October 10, 1877).

13. “taking all things”: Huntington Papers, Series 4, Reel 3 (Crocker to Huntington, September 1, 1877); “I notice what you say”: ibid., Series 1, Reel 14 (Crocker to Huntington, January 30, 1878); Hopkins’s refusal at Lavender, The Great Persuader, p. 324.

14. Lavender, The Great Persuader, p. 326; Lewis, The Big Four, p. 139.


1. Waters, Steel Trails, pp. 51–53. The Santa Fe’s eastward extension began in December 1868 when the irrepressible Cyrus K. Holliday secured a Kansas charter for the Lawrence and Topeka Railway to run eastward from Topeka. No construction took place until 1872, when a summer’s work quickly depleted all funds. The next year, the Lawrence and Topeka contracted with a new company, the Kansas Midland Railroad, to complete the line, but even then, rails did not reach Lawrence—only halfway from Topeka to Kansas City—until the summer of 1874.

Meanwhile, an even greater patchwork of interests was building between Lawrence and the Missouri River with the intent of bypassing Kansas City. (The reason for this is best explained by the venture’s name: St. Louis, Lawrence, and Denver Railroad.) The Kansas Midland began to use a portion of this line and then secured trackage rights over yet another road to reach Kansas City via a circuitous route.

Finally, the Kansas City, Lawrence, and Topeka Railroad, which had originally been incorporated only in Missouri to build from Kansas City to the state line, was induced to build farther west and hook up directly with the Kansas Midland. With this construction under way, the Kansas Midland and the original Lawrence and Topeka merged to become the Kansas City, Topeka, and Western Railroad Company, which was then promptly leased to the Santa Fe.

While this corporate confusion might seem in hindsight as make-work for lawyers, it was really the result of the state charter, local town support, and general financing issues that confronted all railroads in that era. The important point is that out of this piecemeal construction, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe acquired control over its own direct line into Kansas City.

2. Anderson, William J. Palmer, pp. 75–76, 86–87; Grodinsky, Transcontinental Railway Strategy, pp. 90–91; Klein, Union Pacific: Birth, pp. 349, 395–96, specifically, “crumbling beneath the pressures,” p. 395; for an expression of Palmer’s land speculation, see Palmer Collection, Box 9, FF 716 (Palmer to Queen Palmer, October 12, 1874), in which he acknowledges, “There will probably be the same sort of fight [at El Moro] that we had with Colorado City.”

3. Wilkins, Colorado Railroads, pp. 11–21. The Kansas Pacific, via its Arkansas Valley Railroad subsidiary, built from Kit Carson 56 miles south to Las Animas on the Arkansas River in 1873 before funds dried up. The Kansas Pacific managed another 24 miles up the Arkansas River in 1875, most of it close alongside the Santa Fe’s tracks. It halted construction at the mouth of Timpas Creek, just west of La Junta, stopped operating trains on its Arkansas Valley line in 1877, and started dismantling the track the following year. This 80-mile section was the first major abandonment in Colorado and would remain the state’s largest for more than forty years.

4. Waters, Steel Trails, p. 114 (Nickerson), p. 54 (Strong). Strong was to have his own right-hand man in these endeavors. A. A. Robinson, seven years younger than Strong, was another son of Vermont. He moved to Wisconsin after his father’s death and clerked in his stepfather’s store. When his stepfather became ill and closed the store, Robinson supported the family by farming, saving enough to enroll at the University of Michigan. He received an undergraduate degree in 1869 and a master of science in 1871. By then, Robinson was on the payroll of the Santa Fe and on his way to becoming its chief engineer. Little did Robinson know that during his long tenure with the railroad, he would supervise the construction of an incredible 5,000 miles of track (pp. 45–46).

5. “cocky and resolute” and “believed in a future life”: George S. Van Law, Four Years on Santa Fe Railroad Surveys, 1878 to 1882, p. 1, unpublished manuscript, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Collection, Box 1, File Folder (FF) 1A, Stephen H. Hart Library, Colorado Historical Society, Denver (hereinafter Santa Fe Collection); An Act Granting to Railroads the Right of Way Through the Public Lands of the United States, U.S. Statutes at Large, 18, Pt. 3, 43rd Cong., 2nd sess., chap. 152, pp. 482–83; “It is understood”: William A. Bell Collection, Box 6, File Folder (FF) “Telegrams from Dr. Bell’s Files, 1875–1876” (Palmer to Bell, cable to London, March 25, 1876), Stephen H. Hart Library, Colorado Historical Society, Denver (hereinafter Bell Collection).

6. Norman Cleaveland (with George Fitzpatrick), The Morleys—Young Upstarts on the Southwest Frontier (Albuquerque: Calvin Horn Publisher, 1971), pp. 40–41, 49–50, 57, 63, 68, 160–61; “he was no” and “he asked no,” p. 214.

7. “Of course we have no” and “it is predicted”: Colorado Weekly Chieftain (Pueblo), February 21, 1878; “The air is full” and “as railroad companies do not”: ibid., February 28, 1878.

8. Waters, Steel Trails, pp. 54, 98–100; Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 43–45; for a local account and “at three of the most,” see Colorado Weekly Chieftain, March 7, 1878. Confusion over Bat Masterson’s role at Raton Pass may stem from the fact that he later served as city marshal of Trinidad. Whatever deficiencies Palmer found with Trinchera Pass were refuted a scant ten years later when the Denver, Texas and Fort Worth Railroad built a standard gauge line across it in the process of completing Denver’s first continuous rail link to the Gulf of Mexico.

9. Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 45–46; Robert M. Ormes, Railroads and the Rockies: A Record of Lines in and near Colorado (Denver: Sage Books, 1963), p. 78; Denver Daily Tribune, December 1, 1878. The tunnel’s final dimensions were 2,011 feet long, 14.5 feet wide, and 19 feet high.

10. “ ‘devote all of their resources”: Colorado Weekly Chieftain, March 7, 1878; “to play a game”: Robert G. Athearn, Rebel of the Rockies: The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1962), p. 56; advice on impasse in McMurtrie to Palmer, April 14, 1878, and “cutthroat policy,” McMurtrie to Palmer, April 1, 1881, McMurtrie Letter Book, quoted in Athearn, Rebel of the Rockies, p. 56.


1. As early as 1878, the U.S. Supreme Court used the name “Royal Gorge” in the case of Denver and Rio Grande Railway Co. v. C. T. Alling, et al. It is the common usage today and distinguishes the steepest 8-mile section of gorge from the longer Arkansas River canyon, of which it is a part.

2. “I will run a line” and “to look at that pass”: Palmer Collection, Box 4, FF 461 (Greenwood to Palmer, February 8, 1869).

3. “Our experience” and “a fearful gorge”: Palmer Collection, Box 9, FF 708 (Palmer to Queen Palmer, August 24, 1871).

4. Anderson, William J. Palmer, pp. 69–70, 134–36. The Denver and Rio Grande had already employed a two-step financing approach with Pueblo County. In step one, the county voted $100,000 in bonds if the railroad would build its depot within a mile of the courthouse in Pueblo. In step two, another $50,000 in bonds carried the tracks into the downtown area.

5. Anderson, William J. Palmer, pp. 87–88.

6. Anderson, William J. Palmer, pp. 88–90, specifically, “low gradient per mile” and “Manitou frequenters,” p. 89, and “It is the shortest,” p. 90.

7. “Harrison goes east”: Anderson, William J. Palmer, p. 91; “All my movements”: McMurtrie to Palmer, April 14, 1878, McMurtrie Letter Book, quoted in Athearn, Rebel of the Rockies, pp. 56–57; “see to it that”: Waters, Steel Trails, p. 106.

8. This account of the first day’s activities of the Royal Gorge war is based on articles in the Colorado Weekly Chieftain, April 25, 1878. The principal one was entitled “Catching Weasels Asleep. Or How Morley Outflanked McMurtrie. Bronchos vs. Iron Horses.” The Pueblo paper was generally opposed to the Rio Grande, and its stories had a strong Santa Fe slant. The Chieftain’s Cañon City correspondent, B. F. Rockafellow, was a resident of Cañon City and one of the organizers of the Cañon City and San Juan Railway. While Anderson did not document his source, he wrote in William J. Palmer (p. 95) that Rockafellow later admitted that he embellished the more colorful articles “to tickle the public fancy.” Morley’s grandson recounted the horsemanship quote in Cleaveland, The Morleys, p. 172. Sheridan’s dash refers to the general’s wild, twenty-mile ride from a leisurely staff breakfast in Winchester, Virginia, to stem a Union rout at the 1864 Battle of Cedar Creek; Thomas Buchanan Read wrote a poem about the event, “Sheridan’s Ride,” that was a staple of recitation for northern schoolchildren after the war.

9. Anderson, William J. Palmer, pp. 93–95.

10. Cleaveland, The Morleys, pp. 175–76. (Ray Morley to Ada Morley, May 6, 1878). Unfortunately, Ray Morley’s personal diaries and many business papers and family letters were destroyed in the great Berkeley fire of 1923 while in possession of one of his daughters. Since he was well known as a careful observer and unbiased reporter, it would be of great historical value to have his additional insights.

11. “very abusive and making” and “which fractured his skull”: Colorado Weekly Chieftain, May 9, 1878; “Mr. James Gallagher”: Colorado Weekly Chieftain, May 16, 1878.

12. Colorado Weekly Chieftain, May 9, 1878.

13. Colorado Weekly Chieftain, May 16, 1878.

14. Anderson, William Jackson Palmer, p. 101.

15. Cornelius W. Hauck and Robert W. Richardson, eds., “The Santa Fe’s D&RG War No. 2,” Colorado Rail Annual (Golden, Colo.: Colorado Railroad Museum, 1965), 4–5. Three years later, the Denver and Rio Grande constructed a narrow gauge line up Grape Creek to reach Westcliffe and access promising silver camps in the Wet Mountain Valley. The line washed out in 1889 and was not rebuilt. Instead, in 1901 the Rio Grande completed a standard gauge line to Westcliffe from Texas Creek. It was abandoned in 1937.

16. Colorado Weekly Chieftain, June 13, 1878.

17. “Indenture between the Denver & Rio Grande Railway Company and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company, October 1878,” Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad Collection, Box 30, File Folder (FF) 1284, Stephen H. Hart Library, Colorado Historical Society, Denver (hereinafter Denver and Rio Grande Collection); bond prices reported in Waters, Steel Trails, p. 122.

18. “The arrogant demand” and “If they were to” and “we may want to take”: Denver and Rio Grande Collection, Box 23, FF 1083 (Palmer to Dodge, December 4, 1878); for one expression of Palmer worrying about the Santa Fe’s compliance with the lease and required audit of funds, see ibid. (Palmer to Strong, January 19, 1879).

19. Equipment purchase in Hauck and Richardson, “The Santa Fe’s D&RG War No. 2,” p. 7; “where in the whole universe”: DeArment, Bat Masterson, pp. 149–51.

20. “Come on, now”: Colorado Weekly Chieftain, June 19, 1879; “certain Dodge City folks”: DeArment, Bat Masterson, pp. 151–53. The Chieftain account does not mention Masterson by name, once again suggesting that his role in these railroad wars grew with his later reputation.

21. “while he figured a way”: Maury Klein, The Life and Legend of Jay Gould (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), p. 228; see also p. 243 for the threat to parallel the Santa Fe in Kansas; Gould’s Rio Grande stock purchase at Denver and Rio Grande Collection, Box 22, FF 1033 (Gould et al., agreement, September 8, 1879).

22. Anderson, William J. Palmer, pp. 107–116. The court cases involved the Santa Fe’s Pueblo and Arkansas Valley subsidiary, which had absorbed the Cañon City and San Juan.

23. Gould letter and “who happened to be”: Bell Collection, Box 1, FF 22 (Gould to Nickerson, December 17, 1879); Palmer Collection, Box 5, FF 320 (agreement between Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company, et al., and the Denver & Rio Grande Railway Company, March 27, 1880); commission appraisal in Anderson, William J. Palmer, p. 113; Gould’s Rio Grande stock quotes in Klein, Jay Gould, p. 243. Palmer responded to Bell’s meeting with Gould, “Any peace that stops A.T. & S.F. at South Pueblo and gives us Leadville & San Juan, and prevents coal and coke competition to westward, will put D&RG on stock dividend paying basis.…” Bell Collection, Box 1, FF 22 (Palmer to Bell, December 18, 1879).

24. Robert A. Le Massena, “The Royal Gorge,” Denver Westerners Monthly Roundup 21, no. 11 (November 1965): 7, 14–16, specifically, “no one in his right” and “the public press insisted,” p. 15, and “I was chief engineer,” p. 16.

25. Report of the Board of Directors to the Stockholders of the Denver and Rio Grande Railway Company, 1880, pp. 12–13, Denver and Rio Grande Collection, Box 15, FF 506. Palmer’s fight with the Santa Fe primed him for his next battle: a race against John Evans’s Denver, South Park and Pacific for Colorado’s Western Slope and a transcontinental connection with the Central Pacific at Ogden. As Evans learned during the Denver Pacific fight and Palmer experienced firsthand during the Royal Gorge war, railroading, like politics, sometimes made for strange bedfellows. This was particularly true when one of the parties in the room was Jay Gould after he’d bought into both the Rio Grande and the South Park.

As Gould negotiated with the Santa Fe to resolve the Royal Gorge war, he forced a joint operating agreement on Palmer and Evans. Once released from the gorge, the Denver and Rio Grande would build to Leadville, but the South Park was to have equal trackage rights on the last 30 miles from Buena Vista north. In exchange, the South Park would give the Rio Grande the same trackage rights along its planned line from Buena Vista west across the Continental Divide and into the Gunnison country.

But with the Royal Gorge battle resolved, Palmer began counting shares and reasserting himself as the decision maker of the Denver and Rio Grande. When Gould got wind of this, he wrote Evans in frustration: “As I understood the contract, the D&RG were not to build an independentline into the Gunnison country [because] such a line would sooner or later get the two companies into a collision.” Gould reminded Evans that the joint operating agreement contemplated that the two roads be consolidated and he urged Evans, “the sooner this is done the better” (Evans Collection, Box 7, FF 82 [Gould to Evans, July 5, 1880]).

A review of the agreement showed that while the Rio Grande had in fact been granted rights over a South Park line to Gunnison, there was no prohibition on the Rio Grande building its own line despite the general understanding that it would not. Whether this contractual lapse was Gould’s fault or that of his attorneys made little difference as Palmer champed at the bit to head west independent of the South Park. The general knew that if he did so, it would mean a rate war with the South Park and quite probably the wrath of the Union Pacific system over which Gould held considerable sway. But if Palmer could acquire controlling interest in the South Park, the move would rid the Rio Grande of Union Pacific influence in the central Rockies.

So, Evans—at Gould’s urging—and Palmer—for his own interests—sat down to haggle. Reportedly, Palmer first offered Evans a straight stock trade: one share of Rio Grande stock for one share of South Park. Having achieved somewhat of a rebirth thanks to Gould’s investment, Rio Grande stock was then trading between $60 and $70 a share. South Park stock was not on the market because after Gould bought about 25 percent, Evans and his Denver cronies shrewdly put their remaining shares into a trust, with instructions that it be voted or sold as a block. They did not intend to be minority shareholders; it was all or nothing.

Meanwhile, thanks to the rush to Leadville, the Denver, South Park and Pacific was having a banner year. Its Denver investors thought that its stock was worth at least par—$100 a share. Palmer countered with a $700,000 cash sweetener above the Rio Grande stock, but wanted nine-month terms. When Evans discussed this with Gould in his role as a South Park shareholder who would have to consent as to his quarter interest, Gould “offered to purchase the South Park himself at $90 per share, and, as an added inducement, offered to let Evans remain as president.” When Evans asked why he should still be president after the transaction, Gould tipped his hand. “I thought you might like to remain as president and be identified with the Union Pacific.” That, of course, was exactly what Palmer feared the most.

Evans responded to Gould as he had to Palmer, holding out for par. Just to be certain that he fully understood Evans’s position, Gould asked Evans to make an all-cash proposal. “We will take cash par for our railroad stock,” the governor wired back on behalf of his Denver group. Done, answered Gould, “Your offer is accepted.”

Evans and his associates reaped substantial profits, and Jay Gould became the sole owner of the Denver, South Park and Pacific. By one count, Evans’s personal take was almost $800,000. Gould made money too, because he sold his shares at par two months later to the Union Pacific, recovering what he had paid the Denver group and making more than a half million dollars on the quarter stake he had held previously. What Gould’s interest in the Rio Grande was at this time is uncertain, but it seems probable that by the 1881 annual meeting, Palmer had rounded up enough support to outvote him, and Gould subsequently sold his minority position. By then, the Denver and Rio Grande and the Denver, South Park and Pacific were racing each other for the Gunnison country.

The Denver and Rio Grande chose to build over the comparatively gentle grades of 10,846-foot Marshall Pass. The South Park committed to Chalk Creek and crossing the divide via what would be called the Alpine Tunnel. The Rio Grande crested the summit of Marshall Pass and then laid tracks another 45 miles into Gunnison, reaching the town on August 6, 1881. Palmer did not pause to celebrate, but rapidly continued his main line westward toward Utah. The South Park finally arrived in Gunnison in September 1882. The Alpine Tunnel reserved a spot in railroad lore for the line, but it cost the railroad dearly in construction costs, in a year’s delay in reaching Gunnison, and in lives and materiel as the years went by. For the Denver, South Park and Pacific, Gunnison proved the end of the line—the demise of its transcontinental efforts.

Various versions exist for Gould’s role in the Denver and Rio Grande, Palmer’s decision to build independently to the Gunnison country, and Gould’s purchase of control of the South Park. The most reasoned and best researched may be Kelsey, Frontier Capitalist, pp. 187–93, 316–17n, which is based on correspondence between Gould and Evans; other interpretations, along with Gould’s profit on the South Park sale, can be found at Klein, Union Pacific, Birth, pp. 431–32, and Klein, Jay Gould, p. 257.


1. Evans, Huntington, vol. 1, p. 258.

2. Myrick, Railroads of Arizona, Southern Roads, p. 32.

3. Arizona Weekly Citizen, November 2, 1878; Myrick, Railroads of Arizona, Southern Roads, p. 33.

4. “move dirt much more”: Arizona Sentinel, December 7, 1878; Myrick, Railroads of Arizona, Southern Roads, pp. 34–36.

5. “It seemed like old times”: Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 16 (Crocker to Huntington, December 10, 1878); “I do not think”: ibid., Series 4, Reel 3 (Crocker to Huntington, February 7, 1879).

6. Huntington Papers, Series 4, Reel 3 (Crocker to Huntington, February 7, 1879).

7. Myrick, Railroads of Arizona, Southern Roads, p. 40; “There is hardly”: San Francisco Bulletin, April 1, 1879; auction results in Arizona Sentinel, May 17, 1879; “We had a sale”: Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 17 (Crocker to Huntington, May 17, 1879). Once down the east side of the Maricopas, the railroad began a long, continuous 5-mile curve of ten minutes (about one-sixth of 1 degree) and by some accounts the longest continuous railroad curve in the world.

8. “My idea of stopping” and “the men could not work”: Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 17 (Crocker to Huntington, May 17, 1879); “been constantly working”: Arizona Sentinel, May 24, 1879; stockpiling ties in Myrick, Railroads of Arizona, Southern Roads, p. 42.

9. Census figures from Myrick, Railroads of Arizona, Southern Roads, p. 46; “Hardly a stage”: Arizona Daily Star, July 9, 1879; “A good deal of the trouble”: Arizona Daily Star, July 20, 1879.

10. David Devine, Slavery, Scandal, and Steel Rails: The 1854 Gadsden Purchase and the Building of the Second Transcontinental Railroad Across Arizona and New Mexico Twenty-five Years Later (New York: iUniverse, 2004), pp. 159–60, 164; bond election results in Arizona Daily Citizen, June 21, 1879; “a road of easy grade”: Arizona Daily Star, September 30, 1879; “will make Tucson”: Arizona Daily Star, October 7, 1879.

11. “I wish you would”: Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 18 (Crocker to Huntington, September 16, 1879); “I am doing all I can”: ibid., Series 2, Reel 6 (Huntington to Crocker, November 3, 1879).

12. Myrick, Railroads of Arizona, Southern Roads, p. 50.

13. Myrick, Railroads of Arizona, Southern Roads, pp. 50–51, 54; “that a railroad”: Arizona Daily Star, March 19, 1880; “His Holiness, the Pope”: Myrick, Railroads of Arizona, Southern Roads, p. 54.

14. David F. Myrick, New Mexico’s Railroads: A Historical Survey (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1993), pp. 4–5, 7; first Santa Fe dividend in Glenn D. Bradley, The Story of the Santa Fe (Palmdale, Calif.: Omni Publications, 1995), p. 138; Santa Fe town issues and Wakarusa picnic in Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 1–2, 60–63; “Yesterday morning”: Las Vegas Gazette, about January 20, 1880, quoted in Bradley, Santa Fe, p. 137.

15. James H. Ducker, Men of the Steel Rails: Workers on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, 1869–1900 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983), p. 8.

16. Las Vegas Daily Optic, February 20, 1880.

17. “There is some quite”: Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 19 (Crocker to Huntington, April 22, 1880).

18. Myrick, Railroads of Arizona, Southern Roads, pp. 57–61; Orlando Bolivar Willcox at, downloaded October 10, 2007. By coincidence, both Willcox and John G. Parke ended their Civil War service as generals in the same corps of the Army of the Potomac.

19. For fears of Santa Fe impacting Southern Pacific traffic around Tucson, see Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 19 (Crocker to Huntington, March 24, 1880); “The earnings since we”: Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 19 (Crocker to Huntington, April 19, 1880); naming Lordsburg for Charles H. Lord is recounted in Devine, Slavery, Scandal, and Steel Rails, p. 193, but some claim that the town was named for a Delbert Lord, who was somehow associated with the Southern Pacific.

20. “If we don’t make”: Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 20 (Crocker to Huntington, July 20, 1880); “I very much fear”: ibid. (Crocker to Huntington, June 24, 1880); “not get tired” and “those people [the Santa Fe backers] have”: ibid. (Crocker to Huntington, July 2, 1880).

21. “I did think” and “Still … I cannot believe”: Huntington Papers, Series 2, Reel 6 (Huntington to Crocker, July 2, 1880).

22. Trackage agreement in Bradley, Santa Fe, pp. 152–53; “We agreed to this”: Huntington Papers, Series 2, Reel 6 (Huntington to Stanford, October 9, 1880).

23. Stanford suggests Deming name and “Water, of course”: Devine, Slavery, Scandal, and Steel Rails, p. 193, quoting Towne to Huntington, November 19, 1880; “thirteen saloons”: Devine, Slavery, Scandal, and Steel Rails, p. 195; “Deming morals”: C. M. Chase, The Editor’s Run in New Mexico and Colorado (Fort Davis, Tex.: Frontier Book Company, 1968), p. 127.

24. Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Co. to the Stockholders for the Year Ending December 31, 1880, Santa Fe Collection, Box 1, FF 30, p. 6.

25. “The southern way” and “Tourists for pleasure”: Boston Herald quote reprinted in Arizona Daily Citizen, December 2, 1880; “This month witnesses”: Railway Times, March 26, 1881, p. 283.

26. Arrival in Deming, first trains, and “the Santa Fe announced”: Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 79–80; fares from Devine, Slavery, Scandal, and Steel Rails, p. 196; relative values adjusted for CPI from, downloaded November 23, 2009; “the steps taken” and “prevented all business” and “a carload of beer”: Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 22 (Coolidge to Huntington, May 10, 1881); for a detailed study of Pullman and his car designs, see Liston Edgington Leyendecker, Palace Car Prince: A Biography of George Mortimer Pullman (Niwot, Colo.: University of Colorado Press, 1992). George Mortimer Pullman did not invent the sleeping car, but through numerous refinements, he took the concept of a straight-backed chair or a cramped fold-down bunk to a palatial experience deserving of the Pullman’s Palace Car Company name. Pullman’s overarching concept was that one might dine, sleep, relax, and even conduct business with as much comfort on the rails as in the best hotels of the land. Among Pullman’s innovations were fold-down seats and couches, private drawing rooms that converted to sleeping quarters, dining cars with refrigeration, and more pleasing and separate lavatory facilities for ladies and gentlemen. As for the cars themselves, in addition to plush furnishings, Pullman put more wheels on the undercarriage and added shock absorbers that reduced sway and made for a smoother ride. Sometimes Pullman leased its cars to railroads along with continuing service contracts, and sometimes they were sold outright.


1. Handbook of Texas Online, under the word “Railroads,” (accessed September 27, 2007); “Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway,” (accessed September 27, 2007); “Texas and Pacific Railway,” (accessed September 27, 2007). The Texas and Pacific acquired the faltering attempts of the Memphis, El Paso, and Pacific and another road’s 60-mile stretch of track between Longview and Waskom, Texas. By 1873, it had built north from Marshall to Texarkana, Texas, and west from Longview to Dallas. Construction west from Dallas was halted at Eagle Ford by the panic of 1873, but by 1876, the Texas and Pacific reached Fort Worth.

2. Klein, Union Pacific, Birth, pp. 275–77, 285–89, specifically, “an able man” and “was not worth that,” p. 287; “the vaunted Pennsylvania connection,” p. 286.

3. This summary of Gould’s early career is from his most balanced and insightful biographer, Maury Klein, The Life and Legend of Jay Gould, specifically, “He never disclosed,” p. 67; Erie election and Boston Herald quote, p. 79; “quite depressed,” p. 113; Erie ouster, p. 125; entry into the Union Pacific, pp. 139–41.

4. “You know I never had much respect” and “the reverse of Scott”: Huntington Papers, Series 4, Reel 3 (Colton to Huntington, October 15, 1877); “You write that you”: ibid. (Huntington to Colton, February 2, 1875).

5. “Disagreeable as the medicine”: Huntington Papers, Series 4, Reel 3 (Colton to Huntington, October 15, 1877); Gould buys out Scott in Klein, Gould, p. 265.

6. Lavender, The Great Persuader, p. 336.

7. “our line down” and “It seems to me”: Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 21 (Crocker to Huntington, January 3, 1881); Lavender, The Great Persuader, p. 327, 420n14.

8. “I do not suppose”: Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 21 (Crocker to Huntington, January 8, 1881).

9. “They really damage”: Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 22 (Crocker to Huntington, April 9, 1881); “We crossed the bridge”: ibid. (Crocker to Huntington, May 9, 1881).

10. Lavender, The Great Persuader, p. 336; “should be ours” and “I am afraid”: Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 22 (Crocker to Huntington, April 27, 1881).

11. “If one man builds” and “there is no local business”: Klein, Gould, p. 270.

12. “I do not believe”: Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 22 (Crocker to Huntington, May 13, 1881, No. 309); “we shall go right”: ibid. (Crocker to Huntington, May 13, 1881, No. 310); “My own opinion”: Devine, Slavery, Scandal, and Steel Rails, p. 208, quoting Huntington to Crocker, May 12, 1881.

13. “as little to do”: Klein, Gould, p. 269; “do more watching” and “Their friendship is”: ibid., p. 271.

14. “At our last meeting”: Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 25 (Gould to Huntington, November 1, 1881); Klein, Gould, p. 271.

15. William S. Greever, “Railway Development in the Southwest,” New Mexico Historical Review 32, no. 2 (April 1957): 158–59; see also Lavender, The Great Persuader, pp. 336–37.

16. Last spike ceremony and “What should have been”: Lone Star (El Paso, Texas), December 3, 1881.

17. “such as will sooner” and “in making the owners”: Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 21 (Stanford to Huntington, February 1, 1881).


1. “a matter of detail”: Congressional Globe, 30th Cong., 2nd sess. (February 7, 1849), pp. 470, 472; for details of these early predecessors to the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad, see H. Craig Miner, The St. Louis–San Francisco Transcontinental Railroad: The Thirty-fifth Parallel Project, 1853–1890 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1972).

2. U.S. Statutes at Large, 39th Cong., 1st sess., chap. 278, 1866, pp. 292–99.

3. Bradley, Santa Fe, pp. 142–45; Miner, St. Louis–San Francisco, pp. 93–95; “The new company is”: Railroad Gazette, September 1, 1876.

4. Miner, St. Louis–San Francisco, pp. 104, 115–16; Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, p. 85; annual report in Bradley, Santa Fe, p. 140.

5. Bradley, Santa Fe, pp. 147–48; Miner, St. Louis–San Francisco, p. 121; “As a county we agreed”: Wichita City Eagle, October 9, 1879.

6. Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, p. 83.

7. Van Law, “Four Years on Santa Fe Railroad Surveys,” pp. 7–9.

8. James Garrison et al., Transcontinental Railroading in Arizona, 1878–1940: A Component of the Arizona Historic Preservation Plan, prepared for the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office, December 1989, by Janus Associates, Phoenix, pp. 17–18; “on railroad business”: Weekly Arizona Miner, July 9, 1880.

9. Land grant application and construction in Bradley, Santa Fe, pp. 148–49; wages and workforce in Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 87, 90; “The directors of the 35th Parallel R.R.”: Garrison, Transcontinental Railroading in Arizona, p. 18, quoting Weekly Arizona Miner, March 25, 1881; “The whole country”: Weekly Arizona Miner, April 8, 1881.

10. Garrison, Transcontinental Railroading in Arizona, pp. 19–20; “thread-like rill” and “for a railroad”: Whipple, Report, Pacific Railroad Reports, vol. 3, p. 78; Whipple initially named the location “Cañon Diablo,” and it retained its Spanish spelling until 1902, when the Santa Fe anglicized the spelling of cañon all along its line; David F. Myrick, Railroads of Arizona, vol. 4, The Santa Fe Route (Wilton, Calif.: Signature Press, 1998), pp. 27–29, 106. The original Cañon Diablo bridge served until 1900, when it was replaced by a newer single-track structure. This second bridge was replaced in 1947 by a massive double-track steel arch bridge that eliminated the last bottleneck of single track between San Bernardino, California, and Belen, New Mexico.

11. “the town at present”: Weekly Arizona Miner, January 27, 1882; Garrison, Transcontinental Railroading in Arizona, pp. 19–20; Myrick, Railroads of Arizona, The Santa Fe Route, p. 29.

12. “in the United States”: Miner, St. Louis–San Francisco, p. 122; “Owing to changes”: Bradley, Santa Fe, p. 149.

13. Bradley, Santa Fe, p. 150; “Do not be afraid”: Evans, Huntington, p. 5; “to Gould as a client”: Miner, St. Louis–San Francisco, p. 131.

14. “a matter of indifference”: New York Times, January 31, 1882; “Mr. Huntington today informs me”: Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 26 (Gould to Strong, copy with note to Huntington, February 5, 1882).

15. “Your desire to secure”: Huntington Papers, Series 1, Reel 26 (Strong to Gould, February 8, 1882).

16. “sagacity and good sense” and “a pleasing idea” and “to discriminate”: Commercial and Financial Chronicle, March 4, 1882.

17. Agreement in Bradley, Santa Fe, pp. 150–51; “strong backers in Boston”: Grodinsky, Transcontinental Railway Strategy, p. 194, quoting Crocker to Huntington, April 27, 1882; financial statistics from Bradley, Santa Fe, pp. 290, 294–95.

18. Garrison, Transcontinental Railroading in Arizona, pp. 20–22; Myrick, Railroads of Arizona, The Santa Fe Route, pp. 30–31, 70.

19. Garrison, Transcontinental Railroading in Arizona, p. 22; Miner, St. Louis–San Francisco, p. 138. Portions of the 1883 trestle at Needles washed out the following year even as a stronger replacement was under construction. Passengers and freight were ferried across the river while the new bridge was completed.


1. Waters, Steel Trails, pp. 71–72.

2. “You could knock” and “try and break”: Grodinsky, Transcontinental Railway Strategy, p. 168.

3. “a brawling stream”: William Henry Bishop, “Southern California,” Harper’s New Monthly magazine (December 1882): 63–64; high water line story from Kurt Van Horn, “Tempting Temecula: The Making and Unmaking of a Southern California Community,” Journal of San Diego History 20, no. 1 (Winter 1974), accessed online at

4. Waters, Steel Trails, pp. 72–73.

5. Waters, Steel Trails, pp. 131–33.

6. Fogelson, Fragmented Metropolis, p. 60.

7. “They [the Southern Pacific] are expected”: Miner, St. Louis–San Francisco, p. 138; Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 90, 92, specifically, “freight often became,” p. 92; revenue figures from Bradley, Santa Fe, p. 295.

8. Van Horn, “Tempting Temecula,” accessed online.

9. Bradley, Santa Fe, pp. 161–63; Lavender, The Great Persuader, pp. 338–41.

10. Donald Duke, Santa Fe … The Railroad Gateway to the American West, vol. 1, Chicago-Los Angeles-San Diego (San Marino, Calif.: Golden West Books, 1995), pp. 17, 58–59, 72. The Cajon Pass route has remained a critical artery to rail traffic. In the summer of 2007, the Burlington Northern–Santa Fe added a third line to its corridor and daylighted two short tunnels on its northbound leg. The Union Pacific maintains a fourth line, its Palmdale Cutoff, across the pass.

11. Grodinski, Transcontinental Railway Strategy, p. 218.

12. “San Diego is”: San Diego Union, October 16, 1885; “a period of moderate expansion”: Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, p. 102.

13. “San Diego should have” and “San Francisco is”: Los Angeles Times, January 12, 1886; “It doesn’t stand to reason”: Los Angeles Times, November 29, 1885. 14. “Railroading is a business”: Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company to the Stockholders for the Year Ending December 31, 1884, p. 36.


1. Maury Klein, “In Search of Jay Gould,” Business History Review 52, no. 2 (Summer 1978): 167. This article predates Klein’s landmark biography of Gould and may be the best analysis of his reputation. There is an anecdotal story about these fierce competitors from a meeting that occurred at J. P. Morgan’s New York home late in 1890. Among those present were Gould, Huntington, Palmer, and Allen Manvel of the Santa Fe. “You are all gentlemen here,” noted the president of a much smaller Midwest road. “In your private capacity as such, I would trust any of you with my watch, and I would believe the word of any of you, but in your capacity as railroad presidents, I would not believe one of you on oath, and I would not trust one of you with my watch.” Indeed, each knew that the others would look after their own interests first and foremost, but in their own way and time, Gould, Huntington, Palmer, and many others at that meeting were generous philanthropists with the largesse of their success (Klein, Gould, pp. 460–61, quoting New York Herald, December 16, 1890).

2. “I know there are” and “I have always”: Klein, “In Search of Jay Gould,” p. 172.

3. J. R. Perkins, Trails, Rails, and War: The Life of General G. M. Dodge (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1929), p. 263.

4. “I appreciate your friendship”: Klein, Gould, p. 264; for family, see ibid., pp. 74–76.

5. Klein, Union Pacific, Birth, pp. 398–99. The Denver Pacific was included with the Kansas Pacific sale. The transaction left Denver wondering about John Evans’s promises that the Denver Pacific and Kansas Pacific would never pass from local control. Palmer and his Denver and Rio Grande also weighed Gould’s moves, first tolerating him as a short-term savior in the midst of the Royal Gorge war and then as a potential customer for a western extension of the Missouri Pacific.

6. Klein, Union Pacific, Birth, pp. 432, 444; Athearn, Rebel of the Rockies, pp. 133–35; Klein, Gould, p. 270.

7. Colorado Central construction dates from Wilkins, Colorado Railroads, pp. 4, 7, 9, 11, 19; “that the Colorado Central”: Robert C. Black III, Railroad Pathfinder: The Life and Times of Edward L. Berthoud (Evergreen, Colo.: Cordillera Press, 1988), p. 79. Part of the Colorado Central’s problem was a continuing battle between Loveland’s commercial interests centering around Golden, and Denver’s own rail interests championed by John Evans. Seeking an independent link to the Union Pacific main line, the Colorado Central further diffused its focus by pushing multiple lines in too many directions in both standard and narrow gauges. Its Golden-Denver artery was built in 1870 to standard gauge. Two years later, the railroad laid narrow gauge tracks west up Clear Creek to its forks and up the north fork to the mining town of Black Hawk, a distance of 20 miles. Just before the panic of 1873, it extended the three-foot line from the forks several miles to Floyd Hill and laid standard gauge tracks from just east of Golden northerly to Boulder and Longmont, reaching out to the Union Pacific.

8. Black, Railroad Pathfinder, pp. 96–99; Cornelius W. Hauck, Narrow Gauge to Central and Silver Plume, Colorado Rail Annual, no. 10 (Golden, Colo.: Colorado Railroad Museum, 1972), pp. 74, 77. Interestingly enough, when the Union Pacific reorganized the Georgetown, Leadville and San Juan Railroad in 1881, the geography of its name got shorter, not longer: It became the Georgetown, Breckenridge and Leadville.

9. Robert Brewster Stanton, Down the Colorado (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1965), pp. xiv–xv, 20–22.

10. Hauck, Narrow Gauge to Central and Silver Plume, pp. 77–79; Gould visit in Georgetown Courier, October 18, 1883; “The bridge builders say”: Georgetown Courier, November 29, 1883; “Tis done at last”: Georgetown Courier, January 24, 1884. Construction costs for this extension, including the loop, were $254,700.

11. Grodinsky, Transcontinental Railway Strategy, pp. 172–73; Lavender, The Great Persuader, p. 336.

12. Grodinsky, Transcontinental Railway Strategy, pp. 299–300.

13. Waters, Steel Trails, pp. 76–83; Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 126–34. As early as 1881, Charles Crocker encouraged Huntington to buy the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe as a defense against Gould, but at the time, Huntington was momentarily making peace with Gould and fixated with the continued eastward growth of his own empire. Meanwhile, the Santa Fe’s Southern Kansas Railway had also completed a line from Kiowa, Kansas, across the Cimarron and Canadian rivers and on to Panhandle City in Texas. Critics were quick to say that this road started nowhere and ended nowhere, but Strong undertook the route to counter John Evans’s Gulf-to-Rockies route and ensure that the Santa Fe maintained an edge in shipping Texas beef to Kansas City.

After their sale of the South Park, Evans and some of his investors incorporated the Denver and New Orleans Railroad to run from Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico. Its initial goal was to link up with the Fort Worth and Denver City under the leadership of General Grenville Dodge. This Texas road hoped to build northwest from Fort Worth. Not surprisingly, Evans’s sale of the South Park to Gould and Dodge’s work for Gould on other construction ventures raised the opposition’s cry that Evans was actually building the Denver and New Orleans for Gould.

The line stalled at Pueblo for the better part of five years. When it renewed construction southeast from Trinidad in 1887 as the Denver, Texas and Gulf Railroad, it did so only because of trackage rights on the Denver and Rio Grande between Pueblo and Trinidad, now laid as standard gauge. About this time, William Barstow Strong tried to acquire the road for the Santa Fe as its independent entry into Denver. Evans said no and pushed on to meet up with Dodge in northeast New Mexico.

The story of this Gulf-to-Rockies line is not directly related to the struggle for the southern transcontinental corridor, but it must not be overlooked. By varying degrees, this route interacted as a north-south feeder among the Union Pacific, Kansas Pacific, Missouri Pacific, Santa Fe, and Texas and Pacific. With connections south from Fort Worth, it reached into Mexico. While the road ran increasingly eastward the farther south it got from Denver, it essentially emulated with standard gauge rails the north-south feeder line between Denver and El Paso that Palmer originally envisioned for the Denver and Rio Grande. In 1890 the Gulf-to-Rockies line became part of the Union Pacific. See Richard C. Overton, Gulf to Rockies: The Heritage of the Fort Worth and Denver–Colorado Southern Railways, 1861–1898 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1970).


1. For the construction history of the Mexican Railway see David M. Pletcher, “The Building of the Mexican Railway,” Hispanic American Historical Review 30, no. 1 (February 1950): 26–62. The American Civil War interrupted plans for an American-backed railroad across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and Mexico endured its own internal strife before France attempted to profit from the confusion and seize Mexico under the pretense of collecting foreign debts.

2. David M. Pletcher, “General William S. Rosecrans and the Mexican Transcontinental Railroad Project,” Mississippi Valley Historical Review 38 (March 1952): 657–58.

3. Pletcher, “Rosecrans and the Mexican Transcontinental Railroad Project,” pp. 659–64; Fisher, A Builder of the West, pp. 213, 217–22.

4. Pletcher, “Rosecrans and the Mexican Transcontinental Railroad Project,” pp. 662, 670–72, specifically, “Mr. Lerdo is,” pp. 670–71, note 30; “is opposed to our gauge” and “The General as usual”: Palmer Collection, Box 9, FF 711 (Palmer to Queen Palmer, January 2, 1873); generally, see also the chapters on Rosecrans and Plumb in David M. Pletcher, Rails, Mines, & Progress: Seven American Promoters in Mexico, 1867–1911 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1958).

5. “This business in Mexico” and “wanted to know”: Palmer Collection, Box 9, FF 711 (Palmer to Queen Palmer, January 6, 1873).

6. “General Rosecrans”: Palmer Collection, Box 9, FF 713 (Palmer to Queen Palmer, May 15, 1873); Fisher, A Builder of the West, pp. 229–35; Pletcher, “Rosecrans and the Mexican Transcontinental Railroad Project,” p. 673.

7. Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 80–83; “William is looking”: Cleaveland, The Morleys, p. 203.

8. Gerald M. Best, Mexican Narrow Gauge (Berkeley, Calif.: Howell-North Books, 1968), pp. 11–12. Palmer assured himself of a suitable entry into the capital by acquiring the struggling Mexico, Toluca, and Cuautitlan, a narrow gauge short line. Its thirty-five-pound rails were deemed too light, so the line was relaid with forty-five-pound rail.

9. Klein, Gould, pp. 274–75, 306. Gould consolidated his interests with the Mexican Southern Railroad, the chief promoter of which was former president Ulysses S. Grant.

10. Gunnison Review, July 30, 1881, quoting the Denver Tribune.

11. Best, Mexican Narrow Gauge, pp. 12–13, 16; two versions of Morley’s accident are Waters, Steel Trails, pp. 107–8n and Cleaveland, The Morleys, pp. 212–15, including “one of the most able,” p. 215; “that so far as”: Klein, Gould, p. 275.

12. Best, Mexican Narrow Gauge, pp. 14, 16.


1. Railway Review, June 5, 1886, p. 286.

2. Grodinsky, Transcontinental Railway Strategy, pp. 280–85; “the people along”: Fifteenth Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company to the Stockholders for the Year Ending December 31, 1886, p. 28.

3. Bradley, Santa Fe, pp. 177–81; “two streaks of rust”: Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, p. 136.

4. Bradley, Santa Fe, pp. 181–83. The bridges and their approaches were major structures. The longest crossed the Missouri River at Sibley, Missouri, just east of Kansas City. The Sibley Bridge was composed of seven girder sections—three of them 400 feet long—that totaled 2,000 feet and were supported by eight masonry piers. It was accessed on the east by an additional 1,900-foot viaduct. The main span of the Grand River structure between Carrollton and Marceline, Missouri, was 459 feet long; the Des Moines River crossing southwest of Fort Madison was 900 feet; and the Illinois River crossing at Chillicothe had a main span of 752 feet. That left the Mississippi bridge at Fort Madison. Completed in early December 1887, the structure cost $580,000 and had a total length of 2,963 feet. The crossing consisted of eight spans: four each of 237.5 feet, one of 275 feet, two of 150 feet, and one drawbridge span of 400 feet. An additional 1,038 feet of viaduct made up the eastern approach over seventy-four 14-foot spans.

5. Bradley, Santa Fe, pp. 181, 184; Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 138–39; Miner, St. Louis–San Francisco, pp. 166–67.

6. Franklin Hoyt, “San Diego’s First Railroad: The California Southern,” Pacific Historical Review 23, no. 2 (May 1954): 145–46.

7. “to keep peace” and “We have done”: Grodinsky, Transcontinental Railway Strategy, p. 318.

8. Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 102–3; Franklin Hoyt, “The Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Railroad,” Pacific Historical Review 20, no. 3 (August 1951): 237.

9. Census figures from 1880 U.S. Census; dollar equivalents based on CPI from“say they can purchase”: Fogelson, The Fragmented Metropolis, p. 65, quoting Los Angeles Herald, November 5, 1880, and “It seems almost impossible”: p. 66, quoting Los Angeles Evening Express, September 1, 1884.

10. “Like birds of passage”: Fogelson, The Fragmented Metropolis, p. 66; dollar story from Wilson and Taylor, Southern Pacific, p. 86.

11. Fogelson, The Fragmented Metropolis, p. 67.

12. “The history of Western railroad”: Seventeenth Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Co. to the Stockholders for the Year Ending December 31, 1888, p. 16; 1888 trackage from Bradley, Santa Fe, p. 290.


1. Miner, St. Louis–San Francisco, p. 148.

2. Walter R. Borneman, Marshall Pass: Denver and Rio Grande Gateway to the Gunnison Country (Colorado Springs, Colo.: Century One Press, 1980), pp. 39, 48, 50, specifically, “of this line,” p. 48. The wording “Scenic Line of the World” in reference to Marshall Pass appeared as early as a travel account in the Gunnison Review of June 11, 1881.

3. “Never mind, my dear”: Walter R. Borneman, “Ride the Historic Georgetown Loop,” American West 24, no. 3 (June 1987): 44.

4. Dow Helmers, Historic Alpine Tunnel (Colorado Springs, Colo.: Century One Press, 1971), “highest point reached,” p. 70, “It is something to know,” p. 41. The Central Pacific established the first major altitude record in the United States by crossing 7,085-foot Donner Summit. The Santa Fe’s crossing of 7,834-foot Raton Pass was a clear watershed on the line’s westward advance, but the crossing did not garner an altitude record. By the time the Santa Fe built across Raton, the Denver and Rio Grande had pushed its narrow gauge rails over 9,390-foot La Veta Pass en route from Cuchara Junction to the San Luis Valley. In May 1879, the Denver, South Park and Pacific captured the altitude record by building over Colorado’s 9,991-foot Kenosha Pass en route to the Alpine Tunnel. Late in 1880, the Rio Grande completed a spur line over 11,318-foot Frémont Pass northeast of Leadville, but the South Park snatched the title back when it finally opened the Alpine Tunnel in 1882 at an elevation of 11,538 feet. In the fall of 1887, the Colorado Midland completed the standard gauge Hagerman Tunnel at 11,528 feet between Leadville and the Roaring Fork Valley. The Hagerman Tunnel held the altitude record after the Alpine Tunnel was temporarily shut down between 1888 and 1895, although the Hagerman Tunnel itself was abandoned for the lower Busk-Ivanhoe Tunnel (10,953 feet) in 1893.

Any contest between the gauges for the altitude record was firmly settled when David Moffat’s standard gauge Denver, Northwestern and Pacific crossed 11,680-foot Rollins Pass in 1904. Rollins Pass (also called Corona) held the record until it was abandoned for the lower Moffat Tunnel (9,239 feet at apex) in 1928, although the track was not torn up until 1937. The record then fell to the narrow gauge line over Marshall Pass, with its elevation of 10,846 feet. When the Marshall Pass line was abandoned in 1955, the Rio Grande standard gauge over Tennessee Pass captured the record with a crossing of 10,424 feet. (Elevations and dates from Wilkins, Colorado Railroads.)

5. Myrick, New Mexico’s Railroads, pp. 15–16.

6. Donald Duke, Santa Fe … The Railroad Gateway to the American West, vol. 2, Passenger and Freight Service, et al. (San Marino, Calif.: Golden West Books, 1997), pp. 306–8.

7. Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, p. 111.

8. For a thorough history of the Harvey girls, see Lesley Poling-Kempes, The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened the West (New York: Paragon House, 1989), specifically, “no ladies west of Dodge,” p. 52; “We didn’t have,” p. 56; and “they used to say,” p. 99.

9. For the coat rule, including the Harvey sons’ continuation of it despite litigation, see Waters, Steel Trails, pp. 277–78; the cup code is discussed in Poling-Kempes, The Harvey Girls, pp. 58, 217n.

10. Dining car service in Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, p. 118; for a complete list of Harvey facilities, see Poling-Kempes, The Harvey Girls, pp. 233–34; “had more friends”: Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, p. 106. From 1930 to about 1970, there was a Fred Harvey lunch counter and restaurant in Cleveland’s Terminal Tower, at one time the tallest building outside of New York City. On trips to downtown Cleveland from the west side in the late 1950s, the author’s grandmother took him to Fred Harvey for ice cream. Gram’s talk of “Fred Harvey” left a five-year-old quite expecting to see the man himself walk out from the kitchen.

11. Brooke Kroeger, Nellie Bly: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist (New York: Times Books, 1994), pp. 4–5, 43–44, 75, 85–86, 168–73, specifically, “I am off for New York,” p. 75; “Start the man,” p. 140; “For Nellie Bly,” p. 161; “On the line out to this point,” p. 165; reports of Nellie’s progress across Kansas in State Journal (Topeka), January 23, 1890; the bridge incident in State Journal, January 24, 1890.


1. Wilkins, Colorado Railroads, pp. 81, 85. The Rio Grande Western standard gauge built from Cisco, Utah, up the Colorado River through spectacular Ruby Canyon, and met its original narrow gauge right-of-way about 20 miles west of Grand Junction.

2. David Lavender, Colorado River Country (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1982), pp. 151–53, specifically, “I have given up,” p. 153. The Black Betty was portaged by wagon across sagebrush flats to avoid Westwater Canyon and its test-piece rapid, the Skull.

3. Lavender, Colorado River Country, pp. 152–56. The author paddled the length of the Grand Canyon, including Soap Creek Rapid, with David Lavender in 1986.

4. David Lavender, River Runners of the Grand Canyon (Tucson: Grand Canyon Natural History Association and the University of Arizona Press, 1985), pp. 25–27, specifically, “cut my salary off,” p. 27.

5. Lavender, Colorado River Country, p. 157; “a living, moving”: Lavender, River Runners, p. 30.

6. Lavender, Colorado River Country, p. 158; Lavender, River Runners, pp. 30–31; “not one word”: Robert Brewster Stanton, Colorado River Controversies (Boulder City, Nev.: Westwater Books, 1982), p. 110.

7. Worster, A River Running West, pp. 527–28.

8. C. Gregory Crampton, Ghosts of Glen Canyon (Salt Lake City, Utah: Cricket Productions, 1986), p. 80.

9. While it is heavily steeped in legend, the Cañon Diablo train robbery is best analyzed in Paul T. Hietter, “ ‘No Better Than Murderers’: The 1889 Canyon Diablo Train Robbery and the Death Penalty in Arizona Territory,” Journal of Arizona History 47, no. 3 (Autumn 2006): 273–98. In another incident, two robbers pulled their guns on the Santa Fe station agent at Glorieta in December 1888 and took $90 in cash and a $53.65 company check. The Las Vegas Daily Optic was less than sympathetic in opining, “any man who cannot defend himself from two assailants ought to be robbed.”

10. Myrick, Railroads of Arizona, The Santa Fe Route, pp. 155–58, specifically, “All this hullabaloo,” p. 158.


1. Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970, pt. 2 (Washington: U.S. Department of Commerce, 1975), p. 731.

2. Bradley, Santa Fe, pp. 187, 191–93; labor issues in Waters, Steel Trails, pp. 313–15.

3. Bradley, Santa Fe, pp. 195, 214–22, specifically, “amply and satisfactorily” and “are in such condition,” p. 218; “a success in every,” p. 220; “pending negotiations” and “is amply able,” p. 222.

4. Bradley, Santa Fe, pp. 226–34, specifically, “no foundation in fact,” p. 228; for “off balance sheet” example, see pp. 231–32, indictment, p. 233. Reinhart was acquitted after the government failed to prove that he knew of the transactions.

5. Bradley, Santa Fe, pp. 236–40, 246–49, specifically, “to rid the company,” p. 236. The new debt was structured with 4 percent bonds and an assortment of preferred stock and income bonds. Interest payments on the latter vehicles were tied to revenues and thus served to reduce fixed costs. Santa Fe stockholders were assessed 10 percent for every $100 of common stock, with these assessments becoming preferred stock. A pool of European investors agreed to buy out those shareholders who opposed the assessment.

6. Denver Republican, December 22, 1893, quoting Railway Age, December 21, 1893.

7. Bradley, Santa Fe, pp. 249–51, specifically, “believed in the good old doctrine,” p. 249.

8. Bradley, Santa Fe, pp. 252, 258–61. The final end to the Atlantic and Pacific as a separate entity came after another round of foreclosures, when the Frisco purchased the old Central Division, some 112 miles largely in Indian Territory.

9. Bradley, Santa Fe, pp. 263, 266, 286, 291, 298–300, 311.

10. Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 173–76. San Francisco Examiner, January 30, 1895. Frank Norris published The Octopus in 1901. Although purportedly fiction, there was no mistaking the ugly characterization of the Southern Pacific in the best muckraking style of that day. Fortunately, histories such as Richard Orsi’s Sunset Limited offer a much more balanced view.

11. Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 178–81; “the same thing”: Treadway, Cyrus K. Holliday, p. 243 (quoting Holliday to Strong, October 10, 1896).


1. Bradley, Santa Fe, pp. 209–10, 246, 315; Athearn, Rebel of the Rockies, pp. 171, 173–74; John Lipsey, “How Hagerman Sold the Midland in 1890,” Denver Westerners Brand Book, 1956, pp. 267–85, specifically, “I do not suppose,” p. 271, and “it enables me,” p. 283. See also John Lipsey, “J. J. Hagerman, Building of the Colorado Midland,” Brand Book of the Denver Posse of the Westerners for 1954, pp. 95–115. The Santa Fe’s purchase price of the Midland was $2.4 million in stock and $1.6 million in cash.

2. “Such another opportunity”: Denver Republican, January 12, 1900.

3. “We have bought”: George Kennan, E. H. Harriman: A Biography, vol. 1 (Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1967), pp. 240–41.

4. Athearn, Rebel of the Rockies, pp. 194–95. Palmer’s generosity was first described in Fisher, A Builder of the West, pp. 303–4. There was apparently no public announcement of this generosity at the time, but Fisher reported a round of thank-you letters in the Palmer papers. These are not found in the Palmer Collection, but there is a letter from a Palmer crony, George Foster Peabody, that certainly captures the spirit: “I am however most heartily in favor of much ampler figures for all of them—for we are greatly indebted to their steadfast loyalty.” Palmer Collection, Box 5, FF 330 (Peabody to Palmer, unclear date; possibly November 5, 1900).

5. Maury Klein, The Life and Legend of E. H. Harriman (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), p. 220.

6. Athearn, Rebel of the Rockies, pp. 197, 199–200; Spencer Crump, “Western Pacific: The Railroad That Was Built Too Late,” Railway History Quarterly 1, no. 1 (January 1963): 3, 20; Klein, Harriman, pp. 321–22.

7. Crump, “Western Pacific,” pp. 20, 26, 30; “The policies, ambitions”: Wall Street Journal, April 14, 1906; “still had light”: Klein, Harriman, p. 322. The Western Pacific’s other problem was competition from the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad. A promoter named R. C. Kerens cobbled together 28 miles of line between Los Angeles and the port at San Pedro and spent the better part of the 1890s trying to interest the Union Pacific in acquiring it as the western terminus of a beeline route from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. The Union Pacific gave Kerens’s proposal a low priority, largely because any entrance into Los Angeles would have faced the wrath of the Southern Pacific.

In the spring of 1899, Kerens sent yet another proposal to the Union Pacific, but this time he was a buyer. Instead of promoting the sale of his Los Angeles Terminal Railway, Kerens sought to buy or lease the assortment of Union Pacific–controlled lines running south from Ogden. This got the Union Pacific’s immediate attention. “I infer from his conversation,” a sharp lieutenant telegraphed Harriman, “that W. A. Clark of Montana is behind him.”

There was good reason for Harriman to be alarmed. William Andrews Clark was the proverbial loose cannon, an eccentric with enough money to do just about anything he set his mind to do. Born on a Pennsylvania farm in 1839, Clark taught school for a few years in Missouri and ended up in the rough-and-tumble gold camps of Montana’s first mining rush. He struggled as a merchant, moved into banking, and then, in 1872, got in on the ground floor of a little place called Butte. The mineral there proved to be copper, and a mine and a smelter later, W. A. Clark was one of the copper kings of Montana.

Whether Clark sought a distraction in the deserts of Nevada or his sharp nose for the next deal led him there is debatable. Regardless, W. A. Clark was indeed the man backing R. C. Kerens in his Los Angeles–to–Salt Lake plans, and Huntington’s death suddenly made the venture all the more feasible. In March 1901, Clark incorporated the San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake Railroad and acquired the Los Angeles Terminal Railway as his western anchor.

The key to the middle portion of the route lay in control of the canyon of Meadow Valley Wash, a 110-mile slot extending southward from Caliente on the Nevada-Utah border to an expanse of desert that would soon become the railroad town of Las Vegas. While Harriman rushed Union Pacific–backed construction crews south from Ogden, Clark’s men blocked the northern end of the Meadow Valley Canyon with a barricade and feverishly graded as many miles as possible at the other end. Clark was eventually able to enjoin Harriman from doing any work in the canyon, but both he and Harriman soon decided that it was time to talk things out.

After much posturing, Harriman concluded that what Clark really wanted was the glory of being involved with a major railroad construction. For Harriman, who was at the height of his Union Pacific–Southern Pacific empire, glory for others was a relatively cheap commodity as long as he held ultimate control. In fact, given his other designs on the West, Harriman didn’t mind that Clark boasted publicly that he was to be a sole owner of the Los Angeles–Salt Lake line and planned to link the road with George Gould’s system. Clark’s bravado was a great smoke screen. Behind the scenes, Harriman was secure in an agreement to own one-half of both the San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake and its construction company. As one of Harriman’s advisors put it privately, “Mr. Clark is very sensitive on the point of his road being built as a San Pedro proposition. We are less tenacious about sentimental considerations but are looking to the final result.”

The road secured trackage rights from the Santa Fe over Cajon Pass and rapidly filled in the gap from Barstow through Meadow Valley Wash, a stretch that required numerous tunnels. The new beeline was opened for business in May 1905 and immediately became a critical western artery because it had much the same characteristics as the Santa Fe’s 35th parallel main line: relatively gentle grades, generally less snow, and a direct route. It became the Union Pacific’s route of choice into Southern California. In 1916 “San Pedro” was dropped from its name because Los Angeles had effectively expanded to annex that onetime little port, and the road became simply the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad. Clark finally sold his half interest in the line to the Union Pacific in 1921, four years before he died. (Klein, Harriman, pp. 243–49; for Clark’s background, see Michael P. Malone, The Battle for Butte: Mining and Politics on the Northern Frontier, 1864–1906 [Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1981], pp. 13–15, 126–27; Kennan, Harriman, vol. 1, pp. 344–46.)

8. Athearn, Rebel of the Rockies, pp. 201, “As to the D. and R. G.” 210–11, 285, 295; Fisher, Builder of the West, pp. 312–18.


1. Maury Klein, Union Pacific: The Rebirth, 1894–1969 (New York: Doubleday, 1989), pp. 119; Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 184–85; tobacco story in Waters, Steel Trails, p. 348n.

2. Klein, Harriman, pp. 318–19.

3. Klein, Harriman, pp. 251–52; Klein, Union Pacific: The Rebirth, pp. 119, 144.

4. “not adopted at first”: Palmer, Report of Surveys Across the Continent, p. 13; Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 194–99, 201; gradients in Waters, Steel Trails, p. 354. A 19-mile cutoff was also completed west of Belen to link directly with the route west from Albuquerque and speed east-west trains across the Rio Grande Valley with barely a pause.

5. Virginia L. Grattan, Mary Colter: Builder upon the Red Earth (Grand Canyon, Ariz.: Grand Canyon Natural History Association, 1992), specifically, “a decorator who knew,” p. 8; “the first building,” p. 10; “to give up,” p. 25; “Her buildings,” p. 2.

6. Scotty’s story should be taken with a grain of salt. This information is mostly from Dorothy Shally and William Bolton, Scotty’s Castle: Death Valley’s Fabulous Showplace (Yosemite, Calif.: Flying Spur Press, 1973), pp. 7–9.

7. This synopsis and the quotes are from an undated, reproduced publication entitled “Record Breaking Run of the Scott Special,” which may have been produced by the Santa Fe in 1955 for the fiftieth anniversary of the run. Some references suggest that it was originally done shortly after the run. Another anniversary celebration was the reenactment of the Scott Special for a segment of the popular TV western of the 1950s and 1960s, Death Valley Days. Santa Fe locomotive 1010, which pulled the original train between Needles and Seligman, was fired up for the run. Today it is at the California State Railroad Museum.

8. “loves a good time”: Shally and Bolton, Scotty’s Castle, p. 9; “Scott repays,” ibid., p. 8.

9. Eleventh Annual Report of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company, 1906, p. 20.

10. “virtual miracle”: Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 200–1; “blue chip”: ibid., p. 204.

11. “ ‘the Pennsylvania of the West” and “The Pennsylvania policy”: Carl Snyder, American Railways as Investments (New York: Moody, 1907), p. 81.

12. “the road had become”: “Fifty Years of Santa Fe History,” Santa Fe Magazine, January 1923, p. 43.


1. Duke, Santa Fe, Passenger and Freight Service, pp. 312–16.

2. Duke, Santa Fe, Passenger and Freight Service, pp. 326–27.

3. Donald J. Heimburger and Carl R. Byron, The American Streamliner: Prewar Years (Forest Park, Ill.: Heimburger House, 1996), pp. 24–27, 33–34. Later in 1934, this Pioneer Zephyr was put into regular service between Lincoln and Kansas City via Omaha. It ran until 1960, when it was given to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

4. Heimburger and Byron, American Streamliner: Prewar Years, pp. 22–24, 88. The Union Pacific took delivery of its streamliner on February 25, 1934—ahead of the Zephyr by two months—and also sent it on a national tour, but the train did not enter regular service as the City of Salina between Kansas City and Salina, Kansas, until January 31, 1935. The San Francisco leg of the City streamliners was made possible by a partnership with the Southern Pacific west of Ogden, while the Union Pacific owed its competition in the Los Angeles market to the wholly owned Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad.

5. Heimburger and Byron, American Streamliner: Prewar Years, pp. 73–80; Duke, Santa Fe, pp. 339–45; Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, p. 345. In an effort to make the entire Santa Fe system run faster, passenger and freight operations were put on a unified schedule. Rather than shuttle freights onto sidings to clear the main line for passenger trains, high-speed freights—which could indeed roll right along thanks to diesel motive power—were often run as second sections of passenger trains a few minutes behind.

6. Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 344–45.

7. Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 272–75, 278, 312, 315–16. The war also provided the Santa Fe with a long-sought entry into the sprawling harbor at Long Beach, California. When nearby aircraft plants and defense industries swelled that city’s population to 250,000, wartime traffic prompted the ICC to grant it equal access to the port along with the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific. By the time Santa Fe tracks were laid, the war was over, but the railroad was not about to give up any hard-won concessions. Similar wartime situations across the country strengthened the Santa Fe’s postwar profile.

Other wartime improvements reduced operational bottlenecks, such as the 1890 crossing of the Colorado River near Needles. There, a new double-tracked, seven-pier, 1,500-foot span eliminated sharp approach curves, permitted higher speeds across the bridge, and reduced freight schedules by twenty minutes. A similar effort was begun at Cañon Diablo, although that new bridge was not completed until after the war.

At the close of the war, there were 1,567 steam locomotives, 103 road diesels, and 144 diesel switchers on the Santa Fe roster. Five years later, even as the Santa Fe continued to rely on steam for a time, the trend was irreversible: 1,199 steam engines and 627 road diesels. By 1956, there were only 96 steam locomotives left in operating condition on the railroad that had used them to become a transcontinental lifeline.

8. Frederic Wakeman, The Hucksters (New York: Rinehart, 1946), p. 275.

9. Joseph Borkin, Robert R. Young: The Populist of Wall Street (New York: Harper and Row, 1969), p. 89.

10. Athearn, Rebel of the Rockies, p. 335.

11. Donald J. Heimburger and Carl R. Byron, The American Streamliner: Postwar Years (Forest Park, Ill.: Heimburger House, 2001), pp. 142–43, 150–51. The California Zephyr wasn’t as fast as the Union Pacific, but what it lacked in speed, it made up for in scenery. Eleven cars—all with the adjective Silver before their names—carried passengers through the most scenic sections of the Rockies and California’s Feather River Canyon during daylight hours. “promise yourself …” advertisements encouraged, “Next trip between Chicago and the Coast, it’s the California Zephyr for me!”

12. Heimburger and Byron, American Streamliner: Postwar Years, pp. 89–90. The Union Pacific first teamed up with the Chicago and Northwestern and later the Milwaukee Railroad for service on the eastern leg of the trip between Omaha and Chicago.

13. Heimburger and Byron, American Streamliner: Postwar Years, pp. 108, 114; “the top of the Super”: Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, p. 351; Robert Strein, John Vaughan, and C. Fenton Richards, Jr., Santa Fe: The Chief Way (Santa Fe: New Mexico Magazine, 2001), p. 1; for an example of the “Meeting of the Chiefs” advertisement, see Saturday Evening Post, December 17, 1949, and note that most other ads are black and white and less than a full page. And when it came to affordable luxury, El Capitan, while coach only, ran twelve to eighteen cars and carried about four hundred passengers between Chicago and Los Angeles. Round-trip fares in the 1950s were about $90. The Santa Fe billed this service as “America’s New Railroad” and had the perfect arrival solution. “When you get there,” read a tiny box in the advertisements, “… rent a car.”

14. Bryant, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, pp. 276, 283, 296–97; Time, May 23, 1955, pp. 94–95. The converse of the Super C was the unit trains that the Santa Fe assembled to move single commodities on a slow but reliable schedule to serve one customer. Coal was the obvious example, but the Santa Fe also hauled unit trains of sulfur from the plains of Texas and potash from southeastern New Mexico.

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