Over the Range: A History of the Promontory Summit Route of the Pacific Railroad

Over the Range: A History of the Promontory Summit Route of the Pacific Railroad

Over the Range: A History of the Promontory Summit Route of the Pacific Railroad

Over the Range: A History of the Promontory Summit Route of the Pacific Railroad

Excerpt

In the 1890s, travel writers faced a daunting task: spectacular western sights often tempted them to write fanciful, exaggerated prose for the public. One writer, Stanley Wood, claimed that he had resisted that temptation when he wrote the popular book Over the Range to the Golden Gate. As Wood put it in his preface, “No attempt will be made at ‘fine writing’; every effort will be made to state just such facts as the traveler would like to know, and to state these facts in clear and explicit language.” Like Stanley Wood, I hope to share new facts about a portion of the same transcontinental railroad line that he traversed as he went “Over the Range,” which is to say, across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific. However, unlike Wood, I shall dwell in considerable detail on just one portion of the first transcontinental railroad, the section over Promontory Summit. And unlike Wood, I must admit to having an emotional attachment to the area under discussion. The countryside in the vicinity of Promontory, with its abrupt mountains, dazzling salt flats, and sweeping vistas, is as enchanting as it is interesting. Hopefully, that admission will enable readers to understand why I will provide some personal aesthetic insights, as well as facts, about this part of the Great Basin.

In the process of traveling over the Promontory Range on his factfinding mission, Stanley Wood made some insightful comments about the countryside travelers saw on the famed transcontinental railroad. As it turns out, Wood’s 1904 edition would be the last to make this claim as the mainline of the transcontinental railroad soon bypassed the site of Promontory Summit, where history was made as the rails were joined on May 10, 1869. Most people traveling through this area by rail after 1904 merely mentioned that Promontory Summit, lying north of the stretch of the railroad that ran directly across the Great Salt Lake, was now bypassed and forlorn. That desolation, however, should not deter . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.