From the Author
Thank you for coming along on the journey of Josephine Cain. She and I both appreciate your interest.
Even though I hail from Nebraska, I knew very little about the Transcontinental Railroad when I started--and only half of it when I finished. There's so much to learn and too little time and too many pages to get it all read and included in the book. And I only covered part of the Union Pacific's story heading west from Omaha, Nebraska. There's a whole other set of circumstances and stories that belong to the Central Pacific heading east from Sacramento, California.
I tried to include as many facts as possible, but alas, there were many, many facts I had to leave out (or else you'd be reading a book of 1,000 pages or more!) Plus, in order to have a proper romance I had to condense time. The actual time span for the building of the railroad from Omaha was June 1865 to May 1869. Rails were being laid in California as early as December 1863. Fremont and North Platte, Nebraska, were the towns the Union Pacific wintered in the first and second winters, Cheyenne was the spot where they hunkered down during the third winter, and they stayed at Evanston, Wyoming (on the Utah border), during the fourth winter. Laying 1,086 miles of track took nearly four years. Or should I say, only four years considering the hardships and challenges the crews encountered along the way.
How many men worked on the railroad? It's hard to say, as men came and went. But it is known that Chinese immigrants were the prominent work force on the Central Pacific line heading east, while the major ethnic group working for the Union Pacific were Irish (like Hudson). Add men of every background, character, and ethnicity, and tens of thousands of men worked on the project. Many died along the way.
As for what came next? The following is paraphrased from a PBS timeline of the project: By 1880, the Pacific railroad carried $50 million worth of freight annually. It served as an artery for 200 million acres of settlement between the Mississippi and the Pacific. The Plains Indians were scattered to reservations, and a little over 1,000 buffalo remained of the millions that once populated the grasslands. A trip between San Francisco and New York, which once might have occupied six grueling months, only took a few days.
Progress always comes at a high price. That price is what continues to capture my interest in all things historical. Those who came before us left everything they knew to take a chance on the unknown. Would I be so brave? I'm not sure.
If you'd like to do further research, there are many good resources. Here are a few: AMC has a very interesting, frank miniseries called Hell on Wheels that details the life in the transient towns that followed the railroad. Season Three started last August (2013). Eugene Arundel Miller has three books that detail the construction in Nebraska, Wyoming, and Utah, which include hints for you to personally visit the sites along the railroad's path. Empire Express by David Haward Bain has a very detailed account of all sides, and The Journal of Sean Sullivan by William Durbin is a fictional diary of one young worker. All the books provide many photographs and illustrations to help bring the history alive.
Like Josephine in this book, I pray that you enjoy the journey of your life, and recognize God's plan along the way. May you find love, happiness, courage, a deeper faith, and your unique God-given purpose.
About the Author
Historical blog: footnotesfromhistory.blogspot.com/
Author blog: authornancymoser.blogspot.com/