OCTOBER 20, 2009
"Can You Hear The Train a Comming"
The time is April 4, 1860 and the Pony Express makes its first run from Sacramento to St. Joseph, Missouri in less than 10 days, by today's standards and with highways & cars that would still be a 3 day ride.
A short 14 months later the 'Big 4' incorporate the Central Pacific Railroad and begin to take the smaller railroads of the day and turn them into one bigger entity with a single driving force & direction.
With the worst flood in recorded history behind them and the resent signing of the Pacific Railway Act by President Lincoln, the Central Pacific Railroad breaks ground on the first building located at First & "K" streets in January 1863 and lays the first rail in October of the same year. A short two weeks later in a very jubilant ceremony the CPRR places its first locomotive in service, the No. 1 Governor Stanford rolls down the track for the first time and shows the East what the West is truly capable of.
June 1864, the Central Pacific Railroad passes another milestone by providing service to and from Newcastle daily showcasing their ability to climb the foothills and mountains that surround the Sacramento Valley. A short 5 years later the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads inaugurates the completion of the railway between the East & West with a "Golden Spike Ceremony" at Promontory Point, Utah, the Transcontinental Railroad is now completed. With the locomotives from Sacramento having the power to maneuver mountain passes the CPRR made regular deliveries from Sacramento to Omaha where the Union Pacific would take it to its final destination.
Sacramento was well underway to showcasing its ability to move freight & passengers from Sacramento to points east, now it needed to move more of what California was known for. In 1870 the CPRR produced and placed into service the first "Ice Car" capable of moving California's fruit and other perishables to other states increasing the notoriety of the young state. In March of 1874 after several remodels and improvements were made the first load of salmon & produce from California made its way to the East Coast.
In a short 15 years the "Big 4" transformed a small city, a brand new state, and a side of the country best known for renegades and outlaws into a respectable productive part of a very fast growing America.
In the years to come several more acquisitions and mergers would take place as the railroads of America took shape and the old shop at 1st & "K" Street was still there repairing the old and creating the new until the path of change was too much and modernization & innovation took over and left in its wake a passage into the mid 1800's for all of us to share the stories of the past with our children.
Mike "Gunshot" Young, Historian