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The arduous overland journey across the plains by oxen or mules, and the long ocean voyage via Panama or around Cape Horn, brought to the early settlers a realization of their isolation from the remainder of the country.
A growing sentiment in the West and East favored a railroad that would bind the nation closer together.
Construction began at Sacramento in 1863 following authorization by Congress in 1862.
The original unit of the transportation system that today comprises more than 15,000 miles of rail lines in this country and Mexico, was built from Sacramento 690 miles over the Sierra Nevada Mountains and across Nevada to meet the Union Pacific at Promontory, Utah, where the Last Spike was driven on May 10, 1869.
THE PUBLICATION of this historical sketch of the development of Southern Pacific seems particularly appropriate at this time when the railroad's organization has added, in terms of achievement, another outstanding chapter to the history of the road. Out on line, in the yards, in the shops and offices, day and night they will continue to do the greatest job in our history." Such confidence was, indeed, well merited; for during the entire war period the Southern Pacific organization, despite serious handicaps of manpower and equipment shortages, kept unprecedented volumes of traffic moving to surpass any previous accomplishment in the company's existence.
In taking over the office of president on December 11, 1941, four days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President A. Mercier issued a message to Southern Pacific men and women saying that "our first duty is to our government in the war," and added: "The job is being tackled by all hands in the traditional spirit that built our western link of America's transcontinental railroad — the same spirit that has since won through in every crisis of flood, storm and disaster. With the return of peace, President Mercier has pledged that "all our resources of manpower and physical facilities will again be turned to furthering development of the area served by our lines and to provide progressive, friendly service to our customers." This booklet presents in concise form the history of Southern Pacific from its founding through World War II.
He failed to impress men with money to invest until he got the attention of the Sacramento merchants.
The story of the early beginnings of this great railroad project is the story of the West, the saga of individual initiative and courage that spanned a nation with bands of iron rail and nurtured the development of today's western empire.
Construction of the rail highway for the Iron Horse from the Pacific Coast to the Missouri River was one of man's greatest accomplishments.
Southern Pacific is a monument to the enterprise and vision of Leland Stanford, Collis P. These Sacramento merchants, famed in later years as the "Big Four," became impressed with plans for a railroad east over the Sierra as conceived by Theodore D. Typical of the courage and daring that characterized the successful exploits of many western pioneers, the four associates launched the project, unmatched in all the story of rail transportation, without any one of them ever having been remotely connected with a construction project of greater magnitude than the erection of their own store buildings.
Against the advice of their friends and in the face of strong opposition and ridicule they threw their entire resources and personal credit into the project.