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Colorado History


Source: Rocky Mountain Directory and  Colorado Gazetteer for 1871, transcribed by J.S.
This road was the first to give railroad communication to Colorado. It extends from Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory, to Denver, Colorado-a distance of 106 miles-connecting with the Union Pacific railroad at Cheyenne, the Kansas Pacific and Colorado Central at Denver, and the Denver and Boulder Valley at Hughes.

The advantages and benefits accruing to Colorado, from the completion of this road, are incalculable. New life has been infused into her mining and agricultural industries, and vigorous vitality given to all business enterprises. By this the tariff on freight and passenger transportation has been so reduced, from the high rates which were peculiar to stage and wagon lines, that it seems comparatively trifling. This has stimulated large immigration and vast shipments of merchandise, which have increased the revenues of the Territory, and decreased the expense of conducting all business and mining enterprises, and the cost of living generally.

The paramount advantages to Colorado of railroad communication, and the practical benefits derived from that afforded by the Denver Pacific railway, are everywhere apparent, and clearly demonstrated by the rapid increase of population, the building towns and cities, the active development of mining property, and the extent and prosperity of agricultural industries.

Through the medium of this railroad Colorado first had direct communication with all business centres, east and west; her mineral and agricultural products found a suitable market, at small expense and with trifling delay; and capabilities, tourists, and all classes of immigrants, were enabled to avail themselves of her unbounded resources, without the exposure and delay consequent upon a journey across the great plains in a stage-coach or wagon train.

The idea of constructing this railroad, which has afforded so much material aid toward the complete development of the Territory, and the measures which finally secured its completion originated with Colorado capitalists-prominent among these, Gov. John Evans, of Denver.

In the fall of 1867 the initial steps were taken, by the organizing of a company for the purpose of connecting Denver with the Union Pacific railroad, at Cheyenne, by means of a railway and telegraph line. The Board of Trade of Denver took a prominent part in this important enterprise, and were promptly and efficiently aided by the leading capitalists in the Territory, who influenced capitalists from abroad, and succeeded in raising the necessary funds. Surveys were made at once, the route of the road decided upon, and work pushed forward so energetically that fifty-eight miles of the road-from Cheyenne to Evans-were completed and opened for business on the 16th day of December, 1869. The further completion of the road was effected without needless delay, and, on the 23rd day of June, 1870, the first passenger train arrived in Denver.

The financial exhibit of the company is represented by the following figures:
Authorized capital stock$4,000,000
Paid in4,000,000
Funded debt2,500,000
Total cost of railroad and equipment8,000,000

The road and its equipments adn appurteances are, in every way, first-class, and adapted to an extensive business. The management of the road is entrusted to the following directors and officers:
John Evans, Denver City, Col.D.H. Moffat, Jr.,  Denver City, Col.
John Pierce, Denver City, Col.Walter S. Cheesman, Denver City, Col.
W.M.  Clayton, Denver City, Col.Robert E. Carr, St. Louis, Mo.
Frank Palmer, Denver City, Col.W.J. Parker, St. Louis, Mo.
R.H. Lamborn, Philadelphia, Penn.
John Evans, PresidentC.W. Fisher, Superintendent and General Ticket and Freight Agent
John Pierce, Vice-President
D.H. Moffat, Jr. , TreasurerW. Wagner, General Accountant
R.R. McCormick, SecretaryJames S. Porter, Road Master
S.C. Bradford, Master Mechanic

The well known business abiltiy and financial responsibility of these gentlemen are sufficient guaranty to the public that this road will always be kept in excellent condition, and the comfort and safety of passengers, and the rapid transit of freight, be a certainty at all seasons.

Along the line of the road, nearly its entire extent, are some of the best farming lands in the Territory, which have been already considerably improved by colonists and settlers; and, at different points, beds of lignite have been discovered, which promise to be valuable.

One of the accomplished facts of the age is the existence of this great trans-continental railroad, which connects the Altantic with the Pacific, and forms an unbroken chain in connecting the old world with the new. For many years before the commencement of this work, this matter had been constantly brought before the people, and agitated in Congress, by the friends and projectors of the movement. The feasibility of the plans submitted, accompanied, as they were, by topographical surveys of the section of country marked out for the iron pathway, received, at first, but little notice or commendation; but perseverance, and palpable assurances of success in the enterprise, by those whose sympathies were enlisted, at last procured the recognition and essential co-operation of the Government. Thus it was that a company, comprising, among the number, many of our wealthiest esatern capitalists, was formed, and arrangements immediately made for the commentment of a work, the magnitude of which can hardly be realized at this day, which witness the triumphant and successful completion of the greatest enterprises ever inaugurated.

Omaha, Neb., located on the western bank of the Missouri river, was selected as the initial point; and here, on the 5th day of November, 1865, ground was broken, with appropriate ceremonies, and the work commenced with vigor.

By the act of 1862, the utmost limit extended, in the completion of the enterprise, was July 1, 1875; and the opinion became general, with a large class, that the labor involved would prevent the work from being brought to a successful issue within the time alloted, though time and subsequent events have fully eradicated that impression.

The work, on its inception, was necessarily slow and retarded, through the absence of available machinery and material essential in the prosecution of so great an enterprise. Shops were to be built, forges erected, and tools to be manufactured, and an army of mechanics and laborers to be procured; all of which occupied time. However, these obstacles were soon met and overcome, and the work pushed forward with alacrity. As an evidence of the rapidity with which the work progressed, it is proper to mention that, by the first of January, 1866, forty miles of road had been constructed, which was increased, during the year, to 265 miles; and, in 1867, 285 miles more were added, making a total of 550 miles on January 1, 1868. From that time, the work proceeded with greater energy, and the following May witnessed its completion as far as Promontory Point, Utah Territory, where it met the Central Pacific railroad-the last 534 miles having been constructed in a little more than fifteen months, being an average of one and one-fifth miles per day. Although the world is generally acquainted with the history of the road, yet few can form an adequate conception of the immense amount of labor performed in obtaining the material to construct the first portion of it.

The nearest railroad was 150 miles east of Omaha, and all the road material and supplies for the laboring force had to be brought from the Eastern cities; thus, the only means of transportation to be had was through the agency of freight teams, at the most exhorbitant and extortionate prices. The laboring force was transported by the same means. As the country 600 mile west of Omaha is completely barren of lumber, save a scanty supply of cottonwood in the vicinity of Platte river, the company was obliged to purchase ties cut in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York, at prices averaging as high as $2.50 per tie. It was not too long, however, before these obstacles were removed, and the work proceeded advantageously, on a more economical basis.

The 10th day of May, 1869, was an eventful one in the history of the Union Pacific railroad; for it was then that the connection was made that joined the Union with the Central Pacific road.

At a place called Promontory, a town (?) composed of about thirty board and canvass structures, including a number of saloons and restaurants, the great work of weary months was brought to a final and successful completion. The ceremonies of laying the last tie, and driving the last spike, were not only impressive, but attended with the utmost enthusiasm. It was a curious and motley group that gathered on that bright May day, to view the consummation of one of the grandest of modern enterprises-an occasion of great national importance. It was a day that was to demonstrate the final triumph of the friends of the road over their croaking opponents; and it was resolved to give the utmost effect to the proceedings, and arrangements were made accordingly, and carried out with great eclat.

It will be remembered, on this occasion, that the last tie laid was manufactured from California laurel, with silver plates bearing suitable inscriptions, while, of the last spikes driven, there was one of pure gold, one of silver, and another of gold, silver and iron.

When the locomotives of the two lines approached, and finally came together and "kissed," the excitement was great, and the flow of wine greater.

The cost of this gigantic enterprise has been variously estimated; but the estimate we publish is correct, as showing the amount of material used. In the construction of the whole line, there were used about 300,000 tons of iron rails, 1,700,000 fish-plates, 6,800,000 bolts, 6,126,375 cross-ties, and 23,505,500 spikes. Besides this, there was used an incalculable amount of sawed lumber, boards for building, timber for trestles, bridges, etc. Estimating the cost of the road, complete, by that of other first-class roads ($105,000 per mile), we have the sum of $181,650,000 as the approximate cost of this work.

That out[sic] readers may be enabled to form some idea of the amount of rolling-stock required to successfully operate a road of this magnitude, we present the following exhibit, as showing the number of engines and different kinds of cars now in use:
Locomotives150Fast freight cars108
Passenger cars40Derrick and wrecking cars3
Emigrant cars22Powder cars2
Mail and express cars16Pay cars2
Caboose cars62Officers' cars3
Baggage cars11Fruit cars12
Box cars1,032Hay stock cars48
Flat cars1,165
Dump cars52Total2,728

The number of ties to a mile is 2,650, on this road; but, on the eastern roads, the number is far less.

The rails are "fished," making one continuous rail, thus adding to the smoothness of the road, and securing an easy and pleasant motion to the cars. Since its completion, the companies have been active in finishing up and ballasting their tracks, so that, to-day, there exists no better road-bed in the United States than that of the Union Pacific.

The principal works of the company are located at Omaha, and consist of machine shops, round-house, blacksmith shop, foundry, car and paint shop, stationary engine and water tank, and store-rooms.

The company is now actively engaged in the erection of a railroad bridge across the Missouri, from Omaha to Council Bluffs, Iowa. The bridge is of the pattern known as the "Post patent," and will be of iron, a half mile in length. There will be eleven spans, of 250 feet each. It will rest fifty feet above high water, and seventy feet above low water. The piers are to be hollow cylinders-instead of stone-filled in with concrete, rocks, etc., and similar in construction to the bridge crossing the Harlem river, New York. This work  will involve a cost of $2,000,000, and will be completed this year.

The railways which connect at the eastern terminus of this road, at Omaha, and form, with it, a continuous line of communication to all the great commerical centres of the Atlantic, Middle, and Southwestern States, are. The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific; Chicago & Northwestern; Burlington & Missouri; and St. Joseph & Council Bluffs. At the western terminus, the Central Pacific forms the giant link in this monster chain that binds together the shores of a continent. Its connections which is most important to the inhabitants of Colorado, is that with the Denver Pacific, at Cheyenne. By this, the first railway communication was made between the great cities of the east, and the queen city of the plains-Denver. It is impossible to calculate the importance of this line, which has already done more toward developing our unrivaled resources than all other causes combined, and has placed our vast extent of agricultural lands, and untold mineral wealth, within the reach of all mankind.

The management of this road is, at present, entrusted to the following officers, with their principal business office at Omaha:
President - Hon. Oliver Ames
Vice-President - John Duff
Treasurer - M.S. Williams
Assistant Treasurer and Secretary - E.H. Rollins
Chief Engineer - T.E. Sickles
Auditor - J.W. Gannett
General Superintendent - T.E. Sickles
Assistant General Passenger Agent - W.C. Thompson
General Freight Agent - H. Brownson

To these gentlemen, and, more especially, to the present efficient superintendent and chief engineer, the traveling public are largely indebted, as the road is always kept free from delays by snow, or other causes, and in excellent condition; thus ensuring safety and comfort. Freights over this road are always pushed forward rapidly, as the rolling-stock is ample, and thoroughly adapted to meet all requirements.

The acts of Congress incorporating the Union Pacific Railway Coompanies, approved July 1, 1862, and July 2, 1864, authorized the construction of this road under the name of the Union Pacific railway, Eastern Division (name changed to Kansas Pacific railyway by joint reolution of Congress, March 3d, 1869) from the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas rivers, by the way of Fort Riley and the valley of the Republican river, to a junction with the Union Pacific railroad at the 100th meridian.

The bonds and lands granted by the Govenment to this company were the same per mile as those authorized for the Union Pacific railroad east of the Rocky Mountains, viz.: $16,000 in bonds and 12,800 acres of land for every mile of road, the lands being the alternate odd-numbered sections, for twenty miles, on each side of the road.

By an amendment to the original act, approved July 3, 1866, this company was released from the obligation of connecting with the Union Pacific railroad at the 100th meridian, and authorized to changed their line west-wardly up the Smoky Hill river from Fort Riley, on condition that they should only received the same amount of bonds from the United States, to aid in the construction of their new line, that they would have been entitled to if they connected with the Union Pacific railroad at the 100th meridian, as was required in the original act of incorporation; also, that they should join the Union Pacific railroad at a point not more then fifty miles west of the meridian of Denver, in Colorado. This company has accordingly followed the general route of the Smoky Hill branch of the Kansas river from Fort Riley to the city of Denver, and from that point northwest to a connection with the Union Pacific railroad. By the survey made by Major Howell, U.S.A., under instructions from the President of the United States, the distance for which the company was entitled to bonds of the Government was found to be 393 15-16 miles, measured from the boundary line of Missouri and Kansas, at the north of the Kansas river, to the 100th meridian on the Union Pacific railroad.

The land grant, under the acts of Congress, exends the whole length of the present line, from the initial point to the junction, with the Union Pacific railroad west of Denver. By authority of Congress, the lands and franchises of that portion of the line from Denver to the junction with the Union Pacific railroad at Cheyenne, a distance of 106 miles, were transferred to the Denver Pacific railroad and Telegraph Company, which is now completed and in operation from Denver to Cheyenne, making another through line to the Pacific ocean.

The Kansas Pacific railway company, has made careful surveys, by the way of New Mexico, and the thirty-fifth parallel, to the Pacific coast, and contemplate extending their road by that route if Congress grants the necessary authority and aid in lands.

Grading was commenced at Wyandotte in September, 1863, and the road was completed as follows:
To Lawrence, 38 miles, in July 1865To Ellsworth, 223 miles, in July 1867
To Topeka, 67 miles, in January 1866To Hays, 289 miles, in October 1867
To Junct'n City, 189 miles, in Oct. 1866To Sheridan, 405 miles, in August 1868
To Salina, 185 miles, in May 1867To Denver, 689 miles, in August 1870.

The gross earnings have been as follows:
For the year 1865$70,525.80
For the year 1866442,327.20
For the year 18671,811,458.11
For the year 18681,910.161.88
For the year 18692.225,850.11
For ten months, 18702,927,477.99

Rolling stock, December 19, 1870: Locomotives, 76; passenger cars, 43; baggage, mail and express cars, 15; freight cars, 1,158.
The following are the connections of the Kansas Pacific railway:
At Kansas City, with the Kansas City, St. Joseph & Council Bluff's railroad
At Kansas City, with the Hannibal & St. Joseph railroad
At Kansas City, with the North Missouri railroad
At Kansas City, with the Pacific (of Missouri) railroad
At Kansas City, with the Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf railroad
At Lawrence, with the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston railroad
At Leavenworth, with the Kansas City, St. Joseph & Council Bluff's railroad
At Kansas City, with the Leavenworth, Atchison & Northwestern railroad
At Kansas City, with the Pacific railroad (of Missouri)
At Topeka, wiht the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad
At Junction City, with the Missouri, Kansas & Texas railroad
At Denver, with the Denver Pacific railroad
At Kansas City, with the Coloardo Central railroad

The land grant to the company amounts to over 6,000,000 acres, and comprises some of the most fertile and valuable lauds[sic] in Kansas and Colorado. A portion of their lands were opened for sale January 1, 1868, and the company have already sold over 600,000 acres, and the sales would have been much larger, but that a large portion of the lands in western Kansas and Colorado have never been surveyed by the Government until the present year (1870). The lands are sold for cash, or part cash and part notes, the latter bearing interest at six per cent. per annum and payalbe in from one to five years.

Officers of the Road.
John D. Perry, President, St. Louis, Mo.
Adolphus Meier, First Vice-President, St. Louis, Mo.
Robert E. Carr, Second Vice-President, St. Louis, Mo.
Carlos S. Greeley, Treasurer, St. Louis, Mo.
Sylvester T. Smith, Auditor, St. Louis, Mo.
Chas. B. Lamboon, Secretary, St. Louis, Mo.
A. Anderson, General Superintendent, Lawrence, Kan.
Geo. Noble, Assistant General Superintendent, Lawrence, Kan.
T.F. Oakes, General Freight Agent, Kansas City, Mo.
R.B.  Gemmell, General Ticket Agent, Lawrence, Kan.
G.W. Cushing, Superintendent Machinery, Armstrong, Kan.
J.P. Devereux, Land Commissioner, Lawrence, Kan.

The completion of this road to Denver was a most important event in the history of Colorado, and was duly celebrated by our citizens, the capitalists connected with the enterprise, and the "Press" of the western country generally. By this, direct communication has been opened with the great prairie regions east of the "Plains," and with the Middle and Southern States, and millions of acres of gold agricultural and grazing lands made available to settlers. It has already substantially advanced all Colorado industries, and inaugurated a new and permanent era of progress. The management of the road, under Superintendent General A. Anderson, has been acknowledged as nearly faultless as possible; and notwithstanding the difficulties which surround railroad travel across the great plains during inclement seasons, passengers and freight are transported safetly and with dispatch at all times. As a permanent source of advantage to Colorado, this railway has no successful rival, and, besides our Territory, a large section of country is largely benefited by its construction.





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