Constructing the Union Pacific Railroad
GROUND WAS broken for the Union Pacific on the Nebraska side of the Missouri River some four years before any other railroad reached Council Bluffs on the Iowa east shore. This made it necessary to depend on river transportation for carrying construction materials until the time when the Cedar Rapids and Missouri Railroad, later the Chicago and North Western Railroad, reached Council Bluffs, on Sunday, January 17, 1867, long after active construction had been under way on the Union Pacific Railroad.
Prior to 1867, the nearest railroad was the Hannibal and St. Joseph, which reached the Missouri at St. Joseph, Missouri, 175 miles down the winding Missouri River from Omaha. At best, the river was navigable by steamboats for only three or four months during the spring rise. Steamers threaded the stream for over 1,000 miles above St. Louis, and traffic into the northern Rocky Mountains was also mainly by river. In those