Westward Bound From Northern New York

This was an unexpected blog post but a few days ago was the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. The Transcontinental Railroad was officially completed at Promontory Point, Utah on May 10, 1869 and it connected the county by rail.

A number of years ago, when I was still working part-time at the Potsdam Public Museum, I created a very simple mini-exhibit on the Transcontinental Railroad.  The exhibit showed via railroad maps how, with the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, it was possible to get from Potsdam, NY to the West. The mini-exhibit was super mini and I don’t think that many people got to see but hey, this is a different platform and I’m sure someone will be interested in cross-country travel in 1869.

Along those lines, last weekend, I attended a cool tour at the Old City Cemetery in Sacramento, which gave a walking tour related to the Transcontinental Railroad. While few of the key players are actually buried in Sacramento there are a lot of connections to the city.

During the tour, I learned about some of the well-known names involved in the creation of the Transcontinental Railroad. For example, Theodore Judah, who was the brains and architect of the TC railroad; the idea was to get a railroad through and over the Sierra Nevada. He was originally born in Connecticut but lived in Troy, NY with his family for a number of years. On May 10, 1847 he married Anne Pierce. Sadly, though he died before construction began though but not before giving his wife enough information to make sure financing was secured for the railroad. Two of the volunteers with the cemetery acted the parts of Theodore and Anne. They did a pretty good job and the most interesting parts were about Anna to be honest. She apparently did a number of sketches while traveling to California. In additional the other interesting tidbit about them was that the completion of the railroad occurred on what would have been their 22nd wedding anniversary if Theodore hadn’t passed away. Neither are buried in Sacramento but instead in Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Another group of people connected to the railroad, were the Big Four. They were all business, philanthropists, and railroad tycoons who pooled their resources to create the Central Pacific Railroad, which would be the western portion of the Transcontinental Railroad. In addition they became even more wealthy from their involvement in the railroad and there was a lot of shady business that happened. The Big Four were:

Leland Stanford, born in Watervliet (now Colonie), NY. He was originally a lawyer but moved into business before moving to California.

Collins Potter Huntington, originally from Connecticut but settled first in Oneonta, NY where he established a successful business before moving to Sacramento, CA

Mark Hopkins, originally from Henderson, NY (located in Jefferson County). He is buried in the Sacramento Historic Cemetery.

Charles Crocker, he was originally from Troy, NY. He’s part of the same Crocker Family that established the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.

As you can see, there’s also a lot of connections to New York, which is super interesting! I have also realized, while on the cemetery tour I didn’t take any photos of any of the stopping points on the tour except from the Crocker Family Plot. Charles Crocker isn’t buried here but his brother, Edwin, is buried here. Edwin was also involved in the Central Pacific Railroad and served as the businesses’ legal council.

EBCrocker

The following images are all from maps that are available online and there is bibliographic information for each as well as the website to view the map in whole; all links are still active. The maps show the journey westward leaving from Potsdam, NY and arriving in California via multiple railroad lines across the United States. The portions of the following maps come from larger maps created around 1869, when the transcontinental railroad was completed at Promontory Point, Utah on May 10, 1869. Sadly, when I moved to Sacramento, CA from Brasher Falls, NY I did not travel by train. I took a plane from Massena, NY to Boston, MA, where I switched airlines and then flew non-stop to Sacramento, CA.

Map1
This map shows the route from Potsdam, NY to Rome, NY via the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg Railroad. This would have been a potential route to get to the West once the transcontinental railroad was completed on May 10, 1869. This map is part of a larger map the, “N.Y. & Oswego Midland R.R. Map,” by Van R. Richmond, State Engineer & Surveyor. January 1st, 1869. That map can be accessed from the Library of Congress’s website: http://www.loc.gov/item/98688733/#about-this-item
Map2
This is a portion of the map of the Erie Railway and its connections. The map was created in 1869 and published by G.W. & C. B. Colton & Co. From Rome, a person could head to Syracuse via the New York Central Railroad and then take the Syracuse, Birmingham & NYC Railroad to Birmingham, NY. From Birmingham one could take the Erie Railway headed West. The map in its entirety can be viewed at the Library of Congress’s website: http://www.loc.gov/item/98688655/.
Map3
The Erie Railway moves across the southern portion of New York State and into Pennsylvania. The Erie Railway becomes known as the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad moving west towards Lake Ontario in this map. That line then heads south-west towards Ohio. The map in its entirety can be viewed at the Library of Congress’s website: http://www.loc.gov/item/98688655/.
Map4
Traveling to the West would potentially involve going through Pennsylvania and Ohio. This portion of the Erie Railway and its connections map shows the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad running south-west through those two states. In Mansfield, OH, one would have changed lines to head towards Chicago. The map in its entirety can be viewed at the Library of Congress’s website: http://www.loc.gov/item/98688655/.
Map5
Leaving from Mansfield, OH you would take the Pittsburgh, F. Wayne & Chicago Railroad line. This line heads west through to Crawford, Wyandot, and Lima, the line then travels north-west from Lima, OH towards Fort Wayne. The Pittsburgh, F. Wayne, & Chicago Railroad line would take you all the way to Chicago in Illinois. This is a view from the Erie Railway and its connections map. The map in its entirety can be viewed at the Library of Congress’s website: http://www.loc.gov/item/98688655/.
Map6
This map shows the route from Lima, OH (in the bottom right hand corner) via the Pittsburgh, F. Wayne, and Chicago to Chicago, Illinois (in the top left-hand corner). The route goes through three states: Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. This is a view from the Erie Railway and its connections map. The map in its entirety can be viewed at the Library of Congress’s website: http://www.loc.gov/item/98688655/.
Map7
In this section of the Chicago and Southwestern Railway map from 1869, the route from Chicago to the West is highlighted in blue. The railroad you would be one going West at this point is the Chicago & Rock Island & Pacific Railroad. The Chicago and Southwestern Railway map can be viewed in its entirety at the Library of Congress’s website: http://www.loc.gov/item/98688623/.
Map8
The blue line is still the Chicago & Rock Island & Pacific Railroad. The goal is to get to Council Bluffs, Iowa, which is where the Union Pacific Railroad starts. That is the line that heads west and meets with Central Pacific Railroad from Sacramento, California. The Chicago and Southwestern Railway map can be viewed in its entirety at the Library of Congress’s website: http://www.loc.gov/item/98688623/.
Map9
This shows the Chicago & Rock Island & Pacific Railroad going through Des Moines to Council Bluffs through Iowa. In Council Bluffs, one would change railroad lines and get onto the Union Pacific line headed West. The Chicago and Southwestern Railway map can be viewed in its entirety at the Library of Congress’s website: http://www.loc.gov/item/98688623/.
Map10
This is a section from the Central Pacific Railroad Timetable which was created July 9, 1871. Though it was created after 1869, when the Golden Spike Ceremony occurred and the transcontinental railway was completed, it still shows the route one would have traveled in 1869. This portion of the map shows the railway leaving Council Bluffs, next to Omaha and headed West through Nebraska. The rest of this map can be viewed in its entirety at the Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum’s website: http://cprr.org/Museum/Maps/_cprr_map.html.
Map11
This portion of the Central Pacific Railroad map from 1871 shows the continued path of the transcontinental railroad. Promontory Point is where the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads connected on May 10, 1869. Promontory Point is located in Utah on the Great Salt Lake. The red arrow points to Promontory Point. From here headed West the railroad line becomes the Central Pacific. The rest of this map can be viewed in its entirety at the Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum’s website: http://cprr.org/Museum/Maps/_cprr_map.html.
Map12
This is the last leg of the journey from Promontory Point to Sacramento, California! The route all the way from Potsdam was a long one but worth it in 1869. Going from Potsdam, NY to California, one would have traveled through 11 states and over 2,500 miles and seen a lot of amazing things along the way. The rest of this map can be viewed in its entirety at the Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum’s website: http://cprr.org/Museum/Maps/_cprr_map.html.

Resources and Further Information:

Transcontinental Railroad

http://www.cprr.org/Museum/index.html (Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum)

Railroads in St. Lawrence County

http://www.newyorktrains.com/

https://www.dot.ny.gov/divisions/operating/opdm/passenger-rail/railroadsmap

http://russnelson.com/RWnO/www.northnet.org/norwood/railroad.html

http://www.rutlandtrail.org/

National Register of Historic Places In Northern NY 

Lisbon Railroad Depot; Lisbon Depot Museum

New York Central Railroad Adirondack Division Historic District

Library of Congress

Map of the Chicago and Southwestern Railway and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad and their Connections. G.W. & C. Colton & Co. 1869. http://www.loc.gov/item/98688623/

Map showing the location of the N.Y. & Oswego Midland R.R. with existing and proposed connection, Jnaury 1st 1869 (by Van R. Richmond, State Engr. & Surv.). 1869. http://www.loc.gov/item/98688733/

Map of the Erie Railway and its connections.  G. W. & C. Colton & Co. 1869. http://www.loc.gov/item/98688655/

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