Title: North Platte and the Pacific Railroad

Periodical: Salt Lake Telegraph

Date: July 3, 1867

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North Platte and the Pacific Railroad.

The following is from the letter of the correspondent of the New York Times:

The town of North Platte, where we spent last night, is a fair specimen of the settlements which spring up with such rapidity along the newly constructed line of travel in the western country. It is at present the terminus of passenger travel over the Union Pacific, and the overland stages make it their starting point for Denver and California. A few weeks ago not a house had been built there; now there are over a hundred buildings, nearly all of them hastily constructed shanties; but there is a well built and well kept hotel. Just at present there is an accumulation of freight and congregation of passengers at North Platte in consequence of the depredations by the Indians upon the overland route and the suspension of travel. Among those whose progress westward is thus arrested are a few respectable people, including the United States judge of the Denver district, but by for the larger part of the floating population is made up of desperadoes, who spend their time in gambling of all kinds, from cards to keno and faro. Day and night the "saloons" are in full blast, and sums of money varying from five dollars to fifty and even one hundred change hands with a rapidity astonishing to one who is not accustomed to the recklessness which this wild frontier life invariably begets. To-day the first number of the frontier Index, a semi-weekly paper, was issued at North Platte. It is a small but sprightly sheet, and the advent of the senatorial excursionists signalized its first appearance very happily.

Leaving North Platte about 9 o'clock this morning, the train reached the present terminus of the railroad at noon. Gen. Augur, with two companies of regular cavalry and two of Pawnees, who have been mustered out of the service, and belong to a regiment commanded by Major North, an experienced frontiersman, were at this point awaiting General Sherman's arrival, to proceed to Forts McPherson and Laramie. They received their distinguished guests with all the honors, providing an ambulance in which to take the ladies to camp, and offering all the members of the party, with Senator Chandler at their head and under a sufficient escort, at once started for a horseback ride to the Bluffs, distant a couple of miles from the camp, while others proceeded to inspect the operations of track-laying.

The Messrs. Casement, who have this section of the road under contract, are both young men, and they are prosecuting their work with an energy which has never before been witnessed in the history of railroad construction in this or any other country. When over two miles of railroad track is laid in a single day, and that too, through a district so remote as this from the great commercial centers, it is well worth while to know just how it is done. From Omaha the rails are "taken to the front" upon the ordinary platform cars, and there they are transferred to smaller cars. One or two gangs of men are assigned to this work, and when a small car is loaded with a specified number of rails as well as with is share of spikes and "chairs," it is drawn by horse to the extremity of the track already laid. Then three or four men take their places on opposite sides of the car, and each seizing a rail puts it in its place, securing the end in the "chairs" which have been previously distributed. Other workmen follow with sledges and spike the rails themselves to the ties. Large gangs of men quite a distance in advance of these working parties grade the track and distribute the ties, while other gangs follow some distance behind, leveling up and ballasting the track. The marvellous rapidity with which the work is done inevitably produces the impression upon those who have not themselves inspected the operation and witnessed its results, that it must be very imperfectly performed, but this is not at all the case. We have ourselves today ridden over the two miles and a quarter of track, part of which we saw laid yesterday, and it is quite as smooth as the majority of our eastern railways. In fact, the three hundred and fifty miles of track from the Missouri river westward, has only had such repairs since it was first put down as all roads service. It would be impossible, as a matter of course, to make such rapid progress through any other than a perfectly flat country, but the fact that such a surface has been formed certainly makes it appear as if Providence had specially prepared the continent that its eastern and western shores might be connected by railway lines.

Title: North Platte and the Pacific Railroad

Periodical: Salt Lake Telegraph

Date: July 3, 1867

Sponsor: This project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Geraldine W. & Robert J. Dellenback Foundation.

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