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Construction began at Sacramento in 1863 following authorization by Congress in 1862.The original unit of the transportation system that today comprises more than 15,000 miles of rail lines in this country and Mexico, was built from Sacramento 690 miles over the Sierra Nevada Mountains and across Nevada to meet the Union Pacific at Promontory, Utah, where the Last Spike was driven on May 10, 1869.How they accomplished the task is an epic chapter in the history of the West.Stanford, 36 years old when first steps were taken in November, 1860, to organize a railroad company, was a dealer in groceries and provisions; Crocker, 38, had a dry goods store; Huntington, 39, and Hopkins, 47, were partners in a hardware establishment.THE PUBLICATION of this historical sketch of the development of Southern Pacific seems particularly appropriate at this time when the railroad's organization has added, in terms of achievement, another outstanding chapter to the history of the road. Out on line, in the yards, in the shops and offices, day and night they will continue to do the greatest job in our history." Such confidence was, indeed, well merited; for during the entire war period the Southern Pacific organization, despite serious handicaps of manpower and equipment shortages, kept unprecedented volumes of traffic moving to surpass any previous accomplishment in the company's existence.In taking over the office of president on December 11, 1941, four days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President A. Mercier issued a message to Southern Pacific men and women saying that "our first duty is to our government in the war," and added: "The job is being tackled by all hands in the traditional spirit that built our western link of America's transcontinental railroad — the same spirit that has since won through in every crisis of flood, storm and disaster. With the return of peace, President Mercier has pledged that "all our resources of manpower and physical facilities will again be turned to furthering development of the area served by our lines and to provide progressive, friendly service to our customers." This booklet presents in concise form the history of Southern Pacific from its founding through World War II.After passage of the bill, Huntington wired his associates: "We have drawn the elephant, now let us see if we can harness him." In granting this aid to the Central Pacific and Union Pacific, Congress followed a federal policy already established, and one extended to several other railroads built before and after the Pacific Railroad was authorized.
The first plan to receive consideration of Congress was one in 1836.He was the first advocate of the Pacific Railroad who had practical railroad engineering knowledge to add to sincere enthusiasm.