IN A HISTORY of the building of the Pacific Railroad, some mention must be made of the personalities of the men who originated and carried to completion a work that was the outstanding achievement of their time, notwithstanding the fact that the railroad itself is the most important element in the story.Interests will always center around the men who performed the work, and therefore we give here some account of their origin, their character, the incidents of their career, and the life they lived.
Only two other railroad engineers have been honored in this way, Samuel B.
Reed of the Union Pacific, whose granite monument stands at Joliet, and John F.
The history of the Central Pacific Railroad begins with Judah, and in the years before his early death that history was largely involved with his efforts in business and legislative matters as well as with the expected engineering problems.
Theodore Dehone Judah was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on March 4, 1826, and he died in New York, November 2, 1863, at thirty-seven years of age.
Judah, who rose to the rank of brigadier general in the Civil War, and Charles D.
Judah, who went to California in 1849 and became a member of the firm of Hackett and Judah. Judah was destined for the Navy, but he turned to engineering and was graduated from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy. This was the era of railroad building and Judah found work on several of the short railroads of that period, notably with the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, and the Connecticut River Railroad.
GROUND WAS BROKEN FOR THE RAILROAD JANUARY 8, 1863, AT THE FOOT OF K STREET NEARBY. THE ROAD WAS BUILT PAST THE SITE OF THIS MONUMENT, OVER THE LOFTY SIERRA-ALONG THE LINE OF JUDAH'S SURVEY-TO A JUNCTION WITH THE UNION PACIFIC AT PROMONTORY, UTAH, WHERE ON MAY 10, 1869, THE "LAST SPIKE" WAS DRIVEN.
More than two thirds of a century had passed after Judah left the scene of his labors in the mountains of California before his name was perpetuated by the memorial.
Ultimately the road was purchased by the Central Pacific, the portion to Lincoln was removed, and from Folsom it was extended to Placerville. In 1854 Colonel Wilson was in New York purchasing supplies for the road and met Judah, who had been recommended by Governor Horatio Seymour and his brother [sic] Colonel Silas Seymour, both of whom had known the young man.
The Sacramento Valley Railroad was organized by California men in 1853 with Col. Judah was promptly engaged and after hurried preparations lie and his wife sailed for California in April, 1854.
He told his wife that he was going to California to be the pioneer railroad engineer on the Pacific coast, and this turned out to be true.