Steamrail Weekender to Maldon Victoria (July 31st to August 2nd)
Vietnam Tour - Travelling by private train on the legendary Reunification Express
QPSR Troop Train
Stunning views on a retro rail trip
Garratt coming to Southern States in 2015
The Outer Circle Line comes to ACMI Melbourne
Australasian Rail Industry Awards Website launched & Dates announced
Geelong & Ballarat Rail 150 – April 2012
Rail Revival Alliance to meet with Louise Staley Member for Ripon
“Turning back to our files in the Railway Times of 1849 and 1850, we find this enterprise pretty well shadowed forth, by discussions, communications and appeals, all of which probably gave some aid in educating the public mind as to the feasibility and necessity of this great national highway. We well remember the derision with which P.P. Degrande’s statement was received, that the road between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Coast could be built in seven years; but he spoke wisely; the road has been built in about four and a half years’ time, and we are already beginning to see the commercial results which were then promised.
“A direct importation of teas has already reached New York City via the Pacific Railroad, and the papers of that city chronicle the arrival of a passenger from San Francisco in eight days’ time, even with the road in its unfinished state. Now, with the new highway in a finished condition, and with systematic management, passengers can easily pass from New York to San Francisco in six days, or say at an average speed of about 24 mph. The entire distance, via Chicago and Omaha, is stated to be 3,353 miles, and at 30 miles to the hour—and that is not an unusual speed for our express trains—the passage could be made in five days.
“But taking the slower rate of speed, and that certainly is not excessive, let us see what changes are likely to ensue in the mail and passenger movement between Europe and the East, according to some speculation by a contemporary. At San Francisco, the mail will connect with the various steamship lines running on the Pacific, and may be landed at Honolulu in nine days from that city, or 15 days from New York. They can reach Japan in 19 days from San Francisco, or 25 days from New York, or 33 to 34 days from Great Britain—thus beating the British mail sent via the Suez Canal, three to four weeks.
“The trip between Yokohama, Japan and either Hong Kong or Shanghai, is readily accomplished by the Pacific Mail steamships in from five to six days, which added to the time in reaching Japan, will give the through time necessary to reach either of the above named ports of China. The American steamships belonging to the China branch of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company are unequaled in beauty and stability, by any vessels afloat. As they excel all other steamships afloat—except the Great Eastern—in size and capacity, so they also excel them in their various appointments and comfortable accommodations for first class passengers.
“The mail for Australia, it is thought, will hereafter go via San Francisco, as the Australian and New Zealand Steamship Company intend transferring the terminus of their line, which has been running from Sydney to Panama, [to a] run from Australia to Taluti, thence to Honolulu, and thence to San Francisco, making 28 days schedule time, which will give us monthly mail to Australia in 34 or 35 days through time.
“The lighter and valuable traffic of China and Japan with Europe will quite likely come over the Pacific Railroad; the teas, spices, silks, and 1,000 other articles of Asiatic commerce, will seek this line in preference to those now in use, as being less dangerous, taking very much less time, and therefore cheaper.
“The main thing now is to put the whole line in the best possible condition. Let there remain no doubt in the public mind as to the character of the road as to strengthen efficiency in every detail, from Omaha to San Francisco. Put the entire line under one efficient and vigorous management, let the tariff be put in reasonable rates, and the favorable results of the building of this great national highway will soon be approved.”
One-hundred-and-fifty years later, the “efficient and vigorous management” we described is the Union Pacific, whose name and purpose have not changed throughout the years, even as the railroad whose moniker is “Building America” has grown in size and scope, mostly through consolidation.
The building of the Pacific Railroad, and the driving of the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit, Utah, has been chronicled in scores of books, photographs, movies, television documentaries and museum exhibits. Andrew J. Russell’s famous photograph of Union Pacific’s 119 and Central Pacific’s Jupiter (above) nearly touching pilots, which he titled “East and West Shaking Hands at Laying of Last Rail” but also known as “The Champagne Photo,” preserved a defining moment in U.S. history. It was one of several glass-plate exposures taken by three photographers who were present at the Golden Spike Ceremony. Following the driving of the last spike, 119 and Jupiter were “run up until they nearly touched,” according to one account. “Railroad officials retired to their cars, leaving the engineers and workmen to celebrate. The champagne flowed, and engineers George Booth and Sam Bradford each broke a bottle upon the other’s locomotive. Samuel S. Montague, Central Pacific’s Chief Engineer, and