Letter from Oliver Ames to Thomas C. Durant, December 23, 1868

In this letter from December 23, 1868, Oliver Ames writes to Thomas C. Durant regarding the Union Pacific Railroad's impending acquisition of government bonds. He also discusses the issue of corruption within the company at length, stating "the Road must be costing us very much more than we are getting for it, or everyone out there is stealing." Ames worries that the company will be deep in debt by the time the road is completed and urges Durant to "do Something to Stop the thieves from Stealing our last cent and making the Road suffer."

Fortieth Congress, US
Washington, D.C.
House of Representatives

Dr. T. C. Durant

Dear Sir,

I have come over to Washington to-day for the purpose of seeing if some arrangement can not be made for us to receive our Bonds, along without any farther [sic] delay, on a Telegraph from Ewing & My Brother. I have not yet seen Ewing but understand that their proposition is to give us our Govt Bonds as fast as the Road is accepted, and withold [sic] 1/2 of the 1st Mtg Bonds till they amt to 3,000,000 for the completion of the Road. If We can do nothing better than this, it will have to be accepted. We must now get an estimate of the work done in advance of the Track and draw our Bonds on that. I telegraphed Reed to send estimates yesterday, that we may apply to have commissioners go out an [sic] examine and report. We can draw 21,000$ per mile, I think, on advance work.

The demands for money are perfectly frightfull [sic] , and if I hope you will be able to check the leaks there some how. The Road must be costing us very much more than we are getting for it, or every one out there is stealing. Awful Stories come down here from outsiders of the corruption of the Contracters [sic] , Engineers and every one in connection with the Road. If Something is not done to stop it at once, and discharge all Supernumaries [sic] on the work, we shall be largely in debt when the tracks meet. I believed, up to within two months, that at the end of our work, we should have have [sic] a handsome Surplus. It now looks as though we should have a large-floating Debt. Do Something to Stop the theives from Stealing our last cent and making the Road Suffer. We have Snyder asking for 700,000$, Kennedy for 1,500,000. This will take a large portion of our Govt and, with the 900,000 wanted for interest on our Bonds, will take 100 miles of our Road. We owe outside of this 1,500,000 more, on which we have no Securities. The 5,000,000 we owe on a pledge of our 1st Mtg Bonds leaves us with almost nothing to finish up the Road. It looks to me as if Kennedy was drawing or asking to draw for double the Amt needed to finish the work, and we ought to have a most Rigid examination of the estimates of the Engineers before allowing them to pass. The Tunnels should be pressed. The Central say they are going to meet us at the Big Tunnell [sic] . Stewart of Nevada objected to having the same Comn examine Central [on] & said we had got more of the Road than belonged to us, and they would stop us and meet us at Tunnel.

You know how to get through the Tunnel as well as any one, and meet them at Head of Salt Lake. The work at Promotary [sic] Point is costing, or will cost, for 5 miles, then 100,000$ per Mile; if there is danger of their getting up to that point, leave it for them to do. Cut off all useless expenses and economize every where where it will not delay work. We dont [sic] want any Surplus Material on hand when the work is done.

Yours Truly,
Oliver Ames Pres

Oliver Ames Pres

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Oliver Ames to Thomas C. Durant
  • Source: Letter from Oliver Ames to Thomas C. Durant
  • Extent: 4 pages
  • Extent: 4 pages
  • Citation: Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Papers of Levi O. Leonard, Series II, Series II, Box 3, Box 3, Folder 21 (Ames, Oliver, 1866-1876), Folder 21 (Ames, Oliver, 1866-1876)
  • Date: December 23, 1868