No matter how thoroughly he is "coached" and generally advised,
everybody who makes the transcontinental journey is quite ready at the
end of it to supplement all that has been said before with fresh ideas
of his own; and, notwithstanding the fact that before starting he
avails himself of the counsel of a most experienced friend, he
invariably discovers many little things that ought to be arranged by
intending travelers which have never been mentioned to him, and which,
according to his mind, are essential to full enjoyment and comfort. The
few hints that we have to offer are, therefore, presented — not
with any air of infallibility, but simply as personal suggestions which
may or may not be followed with advantage, though the writer's private
belief is that no one will do amiss in giving ear to them.
The fare from New York, Boston, or Philadelphia, is about $137, and the
cost of the sleeping-car, which is almost indispensable, must be added,
although some tourists have sufficiently vigorous constitutions to
endure the journey without more repose than they can get in the
ordinary first or second class car. The sleeping-car fare for one berth
is five dollars to Chicago; two dollars and fifty cents from Chicago to
Omaha by the Rock Island, and three dollars by either the Chicago,
Burlington & Quincy or the Northwestern route; eight dollars from
Omaha to Ogden, and six dollars from Ogden to San Francisco, making a
total of twenty-two dollars. A section is double and a drawing-room
about quadruple these rates, the drawing-room having accommodations for
four persons, and affording privacy and great luxury to its inmates. If
four persons are traveling together they should by all means secure a
drawing-room, by which they will realize the perfection that railway
locomotion has attained in America.
The Pullman cars go no farther west than Ogden, but the Central Pacific
road runs commodious sleeping-cars of its own to and from that point.
In order to secure good locations, the lower middle berths being
preferable, it is advisable to request them by telegraph in advance,
especially as passengers cannot obtain a through sleeping-car ticket
from New York to San Francisco, and must rebook themselves at Chicago,
Omaha, and Ogden. All baggage also is rechecked at Ogden; and, speaking
about baggage, we urge everybody to take as little of it as possible,
for the reason that it is always an impediment, and also because
anything in excess of one hundred pounds costs about twenty cents per
pound extra from Omaha to the Pacific coast. Crossing the continent
some time ago, our sympathies were enlisted by an English lady, who was
vernacularly "stuck" to the amount of sixty dollars by extra baggage,
which might have been left behind; and we beg to remind the reader that
in pleasure-traveling as well as armies mobility is a most excellent
It always seems to us that the young men one meets in the Pacific
Railways who carry a small hand-bag are the happiest creatures on the
train; and unquestionably the unhappiest are those who, encumbered by
such unwieldy equipments as Saratoga trunks contain, are frequently
compelled to lighten their pocket-books in settling accounts with the
baggage-master. At the same time it is wise to carry wraps and
overcoats; for if you leave Omaha with the thermometer at 90o on
Monday, it is quite possible that, even in July, the air becomes chilly
as you rise above the billows of the Plains and pause under the shadow
of the Rocky Mountains at Cheyenne on Tuesday. In summer the common
linen or alpaca "duster" is indispensable, the dust of the Plains,
especially between Elko and Humboldt, being ruinous and dense. A pair
of Lisle-thread or cotton gloves add much to one's comfort, and also
give one the incomparable satisfaction of having clean hands.
In regard to the commissaire, the train stops three times a day for
meals, which are usually plain but good, and in some instances they are
excellent. It is a novel and interesting experience to alight at
sun-down on the platform of a little station in the wilderness with no
projection between the sky and the land as far as one can see, and to
be ushered into a clean and substantially furnished apartment, with
tables handsomely set for supper, the attendants being ruddy-faced,
neat, modest girls, and the silver-ware and crystal-ware and linen
being irreproachable. The inevitable hurry takes away from the
enjoyment, but the food is ample.
Old travelers over the Pacific Railways are in the habit of providing
themselves with lunch-baskets, which may be obtained and filled at
either end of the route. There is much comfort and security in a
lunch-basket. You may not be disposed to sit down at the regular table
for meals; perhaps you are tired of the recurrent menu, or have not an
appetite; and then the wicker repository, which, if it has. been filled
with discretion, must surely contain many good things, is a consolation
and a delight. The porter will adjust a small table in your section of
the car, and forthwith you spread your napkin and contentedly sit down
to so simple a lunch as a biscuit and a glass of sherry (let us hope
that the sherry is genuine), or something more elaborate, in the way of
sardines, boned-turkey, and a bottle of Extra Dry.
You have full possession of the car, probably, and can smile as you
think of the haste and clatter that are going on in the dining-room of
the depot. In winter the lunch-basket is to the overland traveler what
the life-preserver is to the traveler on a dangerous ocean. It is not
safe to go without it, and it is all the better if it includes a
spirit-lamp; for accidents arising from snow and bad weather often
disturb the culinary arrangements of the best-managed eating-houses.
Both wicker-baskets and their "furniture" may be purchased reasonably
at Oakland, Sacramento, and Omaha. The invariable price for the table d'hote
at the stations is one dollar, but there are lunch-counters at which
ten cents is charged for a cup of coffee or tea, and twenty-five cents
for a cut from a cold joint.
Many side-trips, which will not only break the monotony of the
continuous journey, but also afford views of interesting life and
scenery, may be made by those who have time and money to spare. The
hunter will do well to try the sport in the neighborhood of Evanston,
and the lover of the picturesque and the scientist, especially the
geologist or paleontologist, should by all means spend a few days at
Green River. The tavern expenses will not be more than two or three
dollars a day, and riding-horses, guides, and vehicles, maybe hired at
fair prices. Alighting at Cheyenne, you should take the Colorado
Central Railway as far as Denver, calling at the many interesting
points on the line and ascending Gray's or James's Peak if the weather
A good idea of what a wonderful State Colorado is with its mountains,
canons, and mines, can be obtained at an expenditure of fifty dollars.
Above all things, do not omit a run from Ogden down to Salt Lake City.
The trains from the East arrive at the former station about 6 P.M., and
connect with trains on the Utah Central road, which run by the borders
of the lake to the city, the time being about two hours, and the fare
three dollars. Returning to Ogden, the tourist leaves Salt Lake City at
about four o'clock in the afternoon, and connects at six o'clock with
the overland train. The side-trip to Virginia City and its mines
require more time and money, and at the time of writing there is no
direct connection at Reno.
CONNECTIONS OF THE UNION AND CENTRAL PACIFIC RAILWAYS.
The extraordinary rapidity with which railways are projected, built,
and extended west of the Missouri River, makes a table of the branch
connections of the main line imperfect very soon after preparation. Not
many months ago the writer was at Fort Garland, Southern Colorado,
which then over eighty miles from any railway, and it seemed to be the
loneliest of outposts. It was a three days' ride from the nearest town,
and only received a mail twice a week. A narrow-gauge road has since
linked it with Eastern and Western civilization, and it is now
surrounded by a growing city the same way, places that at present seem
very remote, may soon be in steam communication with the principal
lines of transcontinental travel ; for, work that in older countries
would take years to complete, is done in the great protoplastic West in
months. The following numerous connections were in operation, however,
at the time of this writing. (April, 1878)
UNION PACIFIC RAILWAY.
At Omaha, with the Chicago,
Burlington & Quincy, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, and
the Chicago & Northwestern Railways to and from the East; the
Kansas City, St. Joseph & Council Bluffs Railway southward to
Kansas City; the Sioux City & Pacific, and the Omaha &
Northwestern Railways northward, and the Omaha & Southwestern to
Lincoln, the capital of Nebraska, etc.
At Sidney, with daily stages,
six-horse Concord, for Deadwood, Custer, and other cities in the Black
Hills, via Red Cloud Agency, Buffalo Gap, and Rapid City.
At Cheyenne, with the Denver
Pacific branch of the Kansas Pacific Railway southward to Denver, with
the Colorado Central Railway, completed late in 1877, to Denver via
Longmont, Boulder, and Golden, and with six-horse Concord stages to
Fort Laramie, Deadwood, Custer, the Big Horn, and Powder River regions.
The Colorado Central, which had not been extended northward when the
body of the text of this book was written, affords tourists a very near
view of the mountains. Estes Park, Long's Peak, and Peabody Mineral
Springs, are reached by stages from Longmont Station ; Boulder Canon
from Boulder Station, and Clear Creek Cañon is followed from
Golden to Central and Georgetown. Table Mountains, Chimney Gulch, and
Bear Creek Canons, are near Golden, and James's Peak is only 18 miles
from Central. Gray's Peak, Green Lake, Cascade Creek, Middle Park, and
the Mount of the Holy Cross, are all to be reached from Georgetown, and
the hot and cold salt-baths and sulphur springs of Idaho City are
within five minutes' walk of the railway. It is anticipated that during
the summer of 1878 a railway will be built northwest from Cheyenne to
Fort Laramie. opening the wonderful country beyond.
At Bryan, with stages for the Great Sweetwater Mining District.
At Carter, with stages to Fort Bridger.
At Ogden, with the Utah
Northern Railway to Franklin and the north ; with the Utah Central
Railway to Salt Lake City, and with the Central Pacific Railway to San
Francisco. The Utah Northern Railway is being extended with such energy
that it is impossible to state where the terminus is its ultimate
destination is Helena, Montana, with which thriving city it is now
connected by stages, and it is already across the Bear River.
CENTRAL PACIFIC RAILWAY.
At Corinne, with stages for Montana Territory.
At Kelton, with stages for all points in Idaho Territory, Washington Territory, and Oregon.
At Wells, with tri-weekly stages for Pioche, Nevada, Sprucemont, and Cherry Creek.
At Elko, with daily stages
northward to Taylor's, Tuscarora, Independence Valley, Grand Junction.
Cornucopia, Bull Run, and Cope. Also with semi-weekly stages southward
to Bullion City, the town of the Railroad Mining District, and with
weekly stages to the South Fork and Hunter-Valley.
At Palisade, with the Palisade
& Eureka Railway to Box Springs, Garden Pass, and Eureka. distance
90 miles. Also with stages to the celebrated White Pine Mining
District of Nevada.
At Battle Mountain, with daily stages to Austin City and Belmont, the former 90 miles and the latter 180 miles distant.
At Winnemucca, with daily
stages to Silver City, 210 miles, and to Boise City, Idaho, 275 miles
distant, with semi-weekly stages to Paradise Valley, 45 miles, and with
daily stages to Jersey, 65 miles southward.
At Reno, with the Virginia & Truckee Railway to Carson City and Virginia City, about 52 miles.
At Truckee, with daily stages
to Tahoe City and Donner Lake; with daily stages to Campbell's Hot
Springs on Lake Tahoe; with tri-weekly stages to Randolph, 28 miles ;
Sierraville, 29 miles; Sierra City, 60 miles; Downieville, 72 miles;
Jamison City, 55 miles; and Eureka Mills, 58 miles; and on Mondays,
Wednesdays, and Fridays, there are stages to Loyalton, 30 miles, and to
Beckwith, 45 miles.
At Junction, with the Oregon Division of the Central Pacific Railway to Redding, 170 miles.
At Sacramento, with the California Pacific Railway to Williams, 61 miles.
At Galt, with the Amador Branch Railway to lone, 28 miles distant.
At Stockton, with the Stockton & Copperopolis Railway to Peters, Milton, Farmington, and Oakdale, extreme distance 34 miles.
At Lathrop, with the Visalia Division Railway to Tulare, 157 miles, and with the San Joaquin River steamer.
At Niles, with the San Jose Branch Railway.
At San Francisco with steamers
to China, Japan, India, Sandwich Islands, South-Sea Islands, New
Zealand, Australia, and to ports on the Northwestern and Southwestern
coasts of the United States, Mexico, Central and South America.
The total mileage of the Central Pacific, with its connections in California alone, is 2,362 miles.
Courtesy of the Cooper Collection of U.S. Railroad History
Transcribed by Bruce C. Cooper, BCC@CPRR.org