Interview with Mr. J. M. Graham March 8,1929 Graham: I came to California almost 63 years ago at the request of Sam S, Montague, who was Chief Engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad, as I had known him 11 years before. My first acquaintance with him was upon the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi River at Rock Island and it was at his request that I came to help build the Central Pacific Railroad. Heath: How did you happen to meet him? Graham; My older brother and Mr. Montague had been working on the CB&Q and Rock Island construction, and this was the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi. Heath: You met him there on the bridge? Graham: Yes although neither of us had anything to do with the construction of the bridge. We were there just looking over the work being done. Graham; Returning to our story, my first work on the CP line was at camp #41, located five or six miles east of Cisco, and the only work we did for a time was in the two tunnels as there was altogether too much snow to allow any ordinary grading to be done outside the tunnels. Heath: What year was that? Graham: In 1867, in the Spring of 1867.1 made my first trip up the line with Mr. Montague, a kind of inspection trip, the road was ready as far as Cisco, and in the three or four days in April that I stayed at Cisco seven feet of new snow fell. That season, from marks made on a number of telegraph poles in Summit Valley at the surface of the snow at the highest and greatest depth, measurements made in the next summer disclosed that the average depth was 17 ft. 1 in. On the 15th day of June 18671 moved my outfit to Summit camp, then was ordered to proceed to Camp 20 at the first crossing of the Truckee. Heath: In 1867? Graham; Yes, we went over the summit and down to the Truckee River where grading was progressing on the 24 mile stretch from Truckee to the State Line. That was under the direction of Charles Cadwalader, construction engineer on that division. He appointed me his principal assistant and I had charge of all masonry construction at river crossings and for all bridge work, and also made the final estimates of grading on that stretch of line. That was built by Charles Crocker, Contractor, the final estimate so specified, Track was laid on this 24 miles before the Summit tunnel and adjacent grading were completed. Rails, locomotive and cars for this were teamed from Cisco to Truckee. As that was finished, I was given charge as engineer on construction of the work from the Cal-Nevada line on east past Reno. I think I will add right here, as I was moving my outfit forward toward Wadsworth, I measured and staked out what later was to be the town of Reno, On the first day of April 1868,1 set the first stake of the survey of the boundary for Reno on the bank of the English Ditch. There was a wayside hotel on the south side of the Truckee River, called the Lake House at that time. There were no buildings on the north side of the river and where the town was located it was a waste of sage brush, horned toads and jack rabbits. Heath: Then you went on to Wadsworth? Graham: We had a number of miles of rather difficult construction, rock work west of Wadsworth, I might add right there, I set the stakes where the town of Wadsworth is on the first day of July '68, We did many things at that time without consuming any drawing paper. For instance, Charles Crocker came to this town site of Wadsworth and with him we walked Over the ground and after about one-half hour located the site of the engine house and station buildings for Wadsworth, which became the sub-terminal. I then made a detailed location of this yard and town site and it was rapidly built. Heath: How far did you go beyond Wadsworth? Graham: My next jump was about 100 miles to Humboldt station where the grading was pretty light. I was retained there only about two weeks on the grading when it was completed. Next move was to what we called Emigrant Canyon a little east of Golconda where there were a few miles of heavier work. I cannot give any dates for that. Next move I was sent on east about 100 miles to the 12 mile canyon on the Humboldt River where the town of Palisade is now. I was given charge of this 12 miles of heaviest work between the Sierra Nevadas and Salt Lake. Heath: You came back from Wadsworth into Nevada to the 12 mile canyon? Graham: No, always moved east, Wadsworth was where we left the Truckee River, then I made a jump of 100 miles east to Humboldt Station, Emigrant Canon next, then to 12 mile canon. Heath: Still east? Graham: This 12 mile canon consumed considerable time until that work was finished, about Dec, 1ª 1868. I was moved a pretty long jump to the east, to the Toana Mts, This took until after the first of Jan. '69.From there east the work was light grading and it did not hold us long in any one place. My work did not reach to the Promontory Mts. I was not present at the laying of the last rail but returned to Sacramento, to attend the celebration there of driving the last spike on completion of the railroad. Heath: Who were some of the men on the work, some of the foremen, some of the assistant engineers? Graham: I think I could name the assistant engineers in their order from ...the first engineer in charge above Cisco was John McCloud, at the summit A. R, Guppy, next east of him was Phelps. Truckee east, J. H. Bates; next Robert Finley; next Albert Eaton, his subdivision ended at the state line of California. Later he worked on grading west of the summit for a while as they held the grading forces at the summit until the winter snow forced them out. December '67 these forces were then thrown on my subdivision which was from state line to Reno, which included three crossings of the Truckee River. Mr. Hood-many people believe that Mr. Hood had a great deal to do with the building of the Central Pacific-1 first came up with William, Hood at this camp #41 just past Cisco. Hood and George A Stone were measuring the distances to stations along the line and perhaps some other things. As they reached Cisco they came to camp #41 and stopped overnight with us. I did not see Wm. Hood again until about where Carlin is located now. He had a number of men setting slope stakes and he was continued on that work right along for a long distance, and never had charge of any construction work that I know of, Henry Root did not have a subdivision until he was given the subdivision from Reno on east six or eight miles and then another subdivision further out, but not very far out. For some reason he returned to San Francisco and Sacramento and took on street car work. He actually fell out with Strobridge, which may be the reason for his returning to Sacramento so soon. Heath: Aside from yourself, what other enbgineers on the subdivisions beyond Reno were there? Graham: I think I have given everybody except one young fellow I have lost the name of entirely. He got started west of me on the 12 mile canyon. He got injured by the explosion of 1600 kegs of powder stored at the lower end of the canyon and did not return to the work. I have given all the names on the subdivisions. We included the work of relocating the line in long cuts where it had been rather hastily located. Mr. Cadwalader was in charge as Chief Engineer for the Contract & Finance Co. from the Cal-Nevada state line whence the construction was all done by the C and F Co, which was organized for the purpose and Charles Cadwalader was made Chief Engineer for that Contract & Finance Company. He appointed me his principal assistant and authorized mp tn make any r,hange in the line nr the grade that T might think beneficial. Heath: While on this engineering work, was the grading all done on ahead of the work with the track laying? Graham; Yes, I was many miles ahead of the tracklaying. Heath: On that work, was the grading all ready for the track crews? Graham: Yes. All construction was made ready for the tracklayers, grading and bridging. Heath; Do you remember the names of any of the track work gangs? Graham: Only Minkler and Van Warner. They had what we called riding bosses who had charge of the work gangs. They rode along the work on horses. These men would see that the track gangs were furnished with materials and stores, Mr. Strobridge would give each riding boss a certain subdivision and so many laborers, Chinese. One of these riding bosses was Minkler, can't give you his initials (Horace-LDF). One of these riding bosses was named Van Warner, a relative of Minkler. Mike Stanton was a relative of Mrs. Strobridge. Frank Freitas, a Portuguese. Rill Grey. These men had charge of the foremen and Chinese laborers. Another was J. B, Harris, a quiet self possessed man, the prize boss of the whole bunch. Heath: Was Black Ryan one? (NB E. Black Ryan was an attorney for the CP in charge of tax assessments.) Graham: Black Ryan? You are thinking of Black Jack, one of the eight men handling rail. I do not know what his real name was. Heath: How far east was your last work? Graham; Along east of Terrace beyond the ToanaMts. There was a 17 mile tangent, it was quite level country. Come to think of it there were more than 17 miles in the one tangent. (LDF-actually 23miles). Heath: Mr. Strobridge was General Superintendent? Graham: Supt. of Construction. Heath: Was Charles Crocker out on the work very much? Graham: Charles Crocker I think came out as often as once a month. H: How did they pay, how was that handled? G: East of the state line of Cal and Nevada, Mr. W. E. Brown, who was Secretary of the C & F Co., would come to the end of the track and would often drive more than 100 miles in order to get in touch with the men along the line where they were working to pay them-carried the coin in a spring wagon, had guards along with rifles on horseback. H: They didnt ride out on horseback? G: They had some light spring wagnns. Sissnn and Prnr.kw fn pairi all fhiª Chinese. We always accompanyied them and got paid at the same time, H: I have either read or somebody told me the men would ride into camp with their pockets full of money. G: Sisson and Crocker Co. had an interpreter named Sam Thayer, and also a Chinese interpreter. When they came up to these gangs of Chinamen, the money due them would be already counted out and they would dump the money in one of the Chinese's hats for that gang with a statement written in Chinese. There would be no time for explanations. They had to take it whether they liked it or not. This Sam Thayer claimed he could speak half a dozen Chinese dialects. If there was any claims about the pay, they would take it up with the Sisson and Crockert Company later. H: Well, after you came back from that work in Utah what work for the company did you get into then? G: I was sent up to Cisco where the snow shed work was in progress, in '69 after the rnaH was mmpWH Th^re were many stretches of the track Emigrant Gap to Summit that had not been covered with a new shed, which had not been made awaiting changing of the line. Also as the snow would pack up against the upper side of the snow sheds the pressure would push the snow sheds down the sloping mountain side. To prevent this we cut a bench in the side of the mountain, on upper side of sheds, the bottom would be flat much like a wagon road. We cut these benches eight or ten feet into the side of the mountain to give the snow a level base to rest OH- The only other solution was to shovel out the snow when it packed up too heavy and began moving the sheds. I had a work, train and about 400 Chinamen laborers on this grading and cutting the shelf. The material excavated was loaded on cars and used to widen narrow embankments. Rock retaining walls also were built. In December 1872 when the Track Department, as it was called, was first organized, I was appointed resident engineer and given charge of all track maintenance and water supply between Sacramento and Winnemucca on the main line. Later I believe I had about 1000 miles. In 1879 the line between Rarrampnto and Benicia and Napa Branch and Willows Branch, also the Oregon line Roseville to Redding was added to my division, and in 1881 when Mr. Clement accepted the Chief Engineership of the California Division of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, as it was called (Santa Fe people), I left the service with some six or eight others and went with Mr. Clement to this Atlantic and Pacific Railroad work, which terminated my work with the Southern Pacific. H: How long were you with the Atlantic and Pacific? G: In about one year's time the Southern Pacific people got the contrtol of the St, Louis and San Franncisco Railroad which railroad owned one-half interest in this Atlantic & Pacific, the Santa Fe had the other half, which resulted in the Santa Fe people and Southern Pacific arranging to meet at the Colorado River at Needles. That ended our work on the Atlantic & Pacific in California. Mr, Clement went with them to Albuquerque on the other side of the Colorado with the Atlantic & Pacific but I did not. H: I think I took down some notes on that work when 1 was here before. G: Next from this Atlantic & Pacific, I was appointed Asst. Chief Engineer of the Carson & Colorado Railroad. I was with them something over a year. H: Was that railroad built then? - (Finished in 1883). G: My principal work was the location and construction of the line over the White Mts. down into the Owens River Valley, that was the one heavy part of their work. H; Do you know the names of the men that were at the head of that company, the Carson & Colorado? G; There was Yerrington. Mr. Yerrington was president of the road. It was understood that D. Q. Mills and Mr. Sharon were the principal owners. Mr, Sharon came out on the line occasionally when we were constructing it. Before leaving the Carson & Colorado, I engaged with the Pacific Lumber Company as Chief Engineer of their proposed railroad line from Humboldt Bay up the Eel River, (Part was the Eel River & Eureka-LDF) I put in three years on the location and construction of that line to Scotia. I have often wondered if I could not be put on this (SP) company's pension list. I have worked on so many railroads that are now a part of the Southern Pacific. I thought I might see Joe Dyer to see if I may get some kind of an honorary membership without the pension features. H; Why don't you talk to Mr, Dyer? G: I think I may. This railroad line of the Pacific Lumber Co. is now part of the Northwestern Pacific. The Santa Fe took it over first to get a line in there. The Santa Fe made an independent survey from Humboldt down this way, they intended to parallel the Northwestern Pacific. Of course it was ridiculous and they merged. H; And then from there? After those years? G: That would be 1886 that I finished with them, Along near ythe end of 1886 1 was appointed Chief Engineer for the San Diego Flume Company. I was engaged on that work for two years until its final completion, I constructed the first reservoir in the mountains east of San Diego for this company now known as Cuyamaca Lake. Above it there is very little water shed. It don't fill as often as they would like. This was a earth dam of similar construction to this LaFayette Dam. But after finishing it we did not destroy it as they did at the LaFayette by pouring water on it. H: After this San Diego Flume Company work, what followed that? G; About the year 1890 I was appointed Chief Engineer for the Kings River Lumber Company. I had to review all the foregoing statements when the Spanish War started. I decided there might be a lot of Govetrnment work along this coast, which the United States Engineers might have charge of, and took the examination for assistant engineer for that work. I had to give my whole engineering experience, which took me quite a little time, more time than allowed for the examination but the person in charge stayed with me until I finished. Was successful in passing exams and placed on eligible list of engineers. Lets see, the Kings River Lumber Company. In 1890 I think I placed that, came in about 1890. This work consisted of the location and construction of 53 miles of "V" flume designed for the transportation of lumber from quite near General Grant Park to the railroad at the town of Sanger. I might digress a little here by saying that while with the Southern Pacific Company, the directors, the high and other officers of the road were interested in many outside projects like ice business. When they wanted to start such a project, they usually selected me to make the survey and do the construction and they organized the Summit Ice Company for filling their ice houses. They built the ice houses at some little lakes south of Summit Valley and struggled for about three winters to make ice, but the snow came so heavy that when a few inches of ice formed, the falling snow would cover it, and then they discovered that the ice would thaw, and so they scraped the snow off and after struggling for three years getting no marketable ice they found that it was an unprofitable business, and during that time 1 had learned that the temperture down the Truckee River near Boca was some 20 degrees lower than it was registered at the Summit. That seems odd but it is a fact that we learned after three years. I then made surveys of Prosser Creek near Boca and found that we could build a dam 35 feet in height, it would give them a reservoir of 42 acres, which was more than sufficient for their ice house. This Summit Ice Company immediately abandoned all their summit works in summit valley and constructed ice works at Prosser Creek. They were also interested in getting out wood for the useof the railroad, and they chose me to make a survey for the flume to bring the wood in down the Truckee River to near Truckee station. H: During what years was this ice company? G; It was started in 1869. About 1872 built new work at Prosser Creek. Of course there are a number of other things they did, E, H. Miller, secretary of the company, had some cattle land in Colusa County west of Willows station and he wanted to fence four sections of that land, the four sections lying east and west and he asked Mr. Montague who could he send up to find those land lines for him. There was only one corner of the public land survey that anybody knew of. Mr. Montague elected me to go up there. As I got ready to go up there Mr. Miller and Mr, Montague went along with me. Miller was so interested in these land lines, he wanted to go with me. When 1 got Mr, Montague on the ground, he ventured no advice about the work. The first two days I had Mr. Miller and Mr. Montague as my chainmen. Montague remarked at the time that he wished he had nothing to do for about one month, no responsibility but to measure the plains. H: I would like to ask, were there any stations or settlements on the desert when the line was being built? G: There were no stations on the east side of Reno. H; There were no settlements? G: Winnemucca was a small town, There was a wayside hotel at Humboldt station. There was a little store at Mill City. There were mines south of Mill City. There was a dairy ranch 10 miles east of Winnemucca, tailed the Fairbanks Ranch, a little store at Golconda. Beyond that nothing. We used to call the Fairbanks Ranch the jumping off place but there was a little saloon at Golconda. H. Then to where was the next anything - to Ogden7 G: I don't remember any habitations until we touched Corinne 20 miles east of Promontory summit.. H; Lets get back to the Kings River Flume. G; Previous to this, I had experience in building flumes in order to bring wood down to the Truckee River. Strobridge and other railroad men got interested in a saw mill proposition near Prosser Creek and they were wondering how best to get the lumber down from there. They selected me to locale the flume line to transport their luimber from the saw mills some fifteen miles up Prosser Creek. The conditions given me were that this flume should carry 14" square timbers 40' long. We all were inexperienced in that line of work but I figured out curves for this flume which I believed would cany this timber successfully and when they first tested it, these 14" timbers came down to Prosser Creek station very successfully, so that I had that much experience already for the Kings River work. This Kings River Lumber Co. flume was from saw mills near General Grant Park. There was a drop of 40001 in 12 miles from the saw mills to Kings River, then next 40 miles down the Kings River with light grades on down to Sanger. I might add a little there about the lumber. The lumber dropped in this Hume at the mills ran 53 miles to Sanger in 12 hours. H: Do you know how long that flume was in use? G: I think until about five years ago. From that work I went immediateluy to the Fresno Flume and Irrigation Company as their chief engineer on the location and construction of a similar "V" flume from Stevenson's Meadow, it was called, 41 miles to what is now the town of Clovis. This flume built the town of Clovis. It was a wheat field before that. Clovis Cole was the one they named the town after. He owned property at Clovis, also leased land and farmed 21,000 acres that year. That work consumed three years, H: How long were you with the Kings River Compamny? G: About two years, so it was about '95 when we finished with the Fresno Irrigation Company. This included construction of a reservoir at Stevenson's Meadow now very much enlarged by the present company. In connection with the Kings River work, we built a reservoir there also, to tide a water supply over the last part of the summer. That was the first reservoir in the mountains east of Fresno. From this it was a short time that I was appointed consulting engineer for the Escondito Irrigation District. The work consisted of 15 miles of main canal, quite a large reservoir, rock filled dam more than 100' high and a distribution system for the district, Escondito Irrigation District in San Diego County, From that I became chief engineer of an irrigation project near Daggett. but that fell through. They were not financed properly. From that time on my engineering work has been almost entirely with the larger lumber companies in the railroad part of their activities, some 12 years with the Coos Bay Lumber Co. H: You mean by railroad activities, you mean building and locating their line? G; Yes, from Coos Bay we built 30 miles from Myrtle Point along the south fork of Coquille River. This also included several years of reconnaissance of railroad lines in the timber holdings of the Coos Bay Lumber Co. I guess I will end this by saying when I passed 80 years of age, I decided to let the young men do the engineering work. The only engineering I have done has been for some of these companies I had been connected with where they requested me to take on certain things that I knew more about than they did and cannot very well avoid doing the work for them. H; Where were you born, Mr. Graham? G: In Crawford County, Pennsylvania not far from the town of Meadville in 1842, May 22nd. I will continue on from there. The farthest back that 1 can remember anything certain is when my people emigrated from Pennsylvania to the Great West, so as we went aboard a steamer at Erie, PA, I immediately became sea sick, It seemed to impress that one event on my mind. H; Where were you enroute to then? G: Chicago. Chicago was the Great West in those days. My father had been a contractor on canal work in Pennsylvania and when the first railroad was started Out of the city nf Chicago, he tnnk a contract frnm them for Ihe bridge and grading work. He built the first bridge for this railroad in 1847. I was able to do small jobs as a water boy and my first work was bringing water to these laborers on his work. Some of my first lessons were learning oxen talk. My father taught me to drive a yoke of bulls. This came in very handy later as on one special occasion on the Truckee River I sent some of my men with an ox team to bring a heating stove from Camp 24 to my office. Although they were the sons of farmers, they soon came back to the office with the story that they couldn't get that team started as that yoke of oxen was facing in one direction and the other the other, and they couldn't get them untangled. I spoke to these oxen and gave them some oxen talk and soon got them on the road. I taught those young men this oxen talk and they handled the oxen successfully.

Courtesy of the Lynn D. Farrar Collection.

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