STATEMENT BY JOS. M. GRAHAM, 80 YEARS OLD, RESIDING AT 2510 COLLEGE AVE., BERKELEY, REGARDING LOCATION OF THE TOWNSITE OF RENO BY THE CENTRAL PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY IN APRIL, 1868.
Statement made June 10, 1931
"As I was moving my outfit forward to Wadsworth after having been placed in charge as Engineer of Construction on the building of the road eastward from the California-Nevada state line, I measured and staked out what was later to be the city of Reno. On the first day of April, 1868, I set the first stake of the survey of this boundry for Reno on the bank of the English Ditch. A map I saw in Reno a few years ago showed a dotted line within the present-day boundry of the city which lead up to English Ditch marking the spot where I drove the first stake. The ditch was used to divert water from the Truckee River for the use of an English mining company near the site of the town.
"The original townsite, as I remember, comprised about 35 acres extending for about a quarter of a mile between the Truckee River as the south boundary and English Ditch as the north boundary. The site was donated to the Contract & Finance Company, contractors for the Central Pacific, by a Mr. Lake who owned a bridge across the river and a short toll road. With the establishing of a station at that point, Mr. Lake planned to profit from the tolls collected from travelers over his bridge and road leading to the Virginia City, Washoe and Carson country, I understand he collected more than $60,000 in tolls during the year and a half before the Virginia & Truckee railroad was built and opened for traffic in December 1869.
"There was a wayside hotel on the south side of the Truckee River known as the Lake House at the time I surveyed the townsite. There were no buildings on the north side of the river and where the town was located it was a barren waste of sage brush, horned toads and jack rabbits.
"The first map of the townsite was drawn by J. R. Soupham who was a office-man for the Contract & Finance Co. Names for the first streets were probably chosen by Mr. Souphan or by Chas. Cadwalader who was chief engineer for the Contract & Finance Co. The townsite itself was named for Jesse Lee Reno, a Civil War general. Lots in the townsite were sold at auction. As Reno was to be the trade center for the Virginia, Washoe and Carson country, there was a rush for town property and some of the choice 25-foot lots sold for $1,200."
Jos. M. Graham is the sole survivor of the civil engineers who had charge of construction work on the western link of the first transcontinental railroad between Sacramento and Promontory, Utah, during 1863-1869. It was under his direction that most of the original line of the Central Pacific was built across Nevada. After the transcontinental line was completed in May, 1869, Mr. Graham was appointed resident engineer for the Central Pacific with headquarters at Truckee and had charge of all maintenance work on the railroad between Sacramento and Winnemucca. In 1881 he joined the engineering staff of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad (now Santa Fe) and was later assistant chief engineer of the Carson & Colorado which company built most of the narrow gauge line now comprising the Mina Branch of the Southern Pacific from Hazen, Nev., to Keeler, Cal.
At the time the Central Pacific was being built across Nevada in 1869, Mr. Graham says there were no settlements of any consequence. "Winnemucca was a very small town," he says. "There was a dairy ranch 10 miles east of Winnemucca, called Fairbanks Ranch, and then a little store and saloon at Golconda. Beyond that there was nothing. We used to call the Fairbanks Ranch the "jumping off place." I don't remember any habitation between there and Corinne, Utah."
Mr. Graham's railroad career probably dates back further then that of any other pioneer railroader in the country. When he was only five years old he held the position of "water boy" for one of the construction gangs building the Galena & Chicago Union, first railroad out of Chicago, in 1847. He saw service during the Civil War and was on the field at Iron Mountain and at Shiloh.
Mr. Graham now makes his home with his two daughters at Berkeley, Cal.