Letter from Oliver Ames to Thomas C. Durant, January 4, 1869

In this letter from January 4, 1869, Oliver Ames writes to Thomas C. Durant complaining about the large bills the company is receiving. He urges Durant to sell any excess unused material, fire "useless" laborers, and hire by contract whenever possible. He tells Durant that he, "as the Manager of the Construction, must feel any Slip up by which the Central [Pacific Railroad] should come out triumphant and we Bankrupt keenly, and it would be a burning shame to us to suffer it."

Dr. T. C. Durant VP

Dear Sir,

The financial condition of our Co. is this: Our Liabilities on notes and call Loans is      8,477,000.

Govt Bonds 3,622,000 } all of these
Firm Mtg. Bonds 4,854,000 with [cqs]
unfinished Road
These are pledged at 10% less than their face and the ballance [sic] is raised on Certificates on Bonds to be recd on uncompleted Road. We now have calls from line of Road for 2,000,000$, or more, to pay up Bills and have nothing to Raise the Money with. The ruinous rates of interest, which we are paying, will absorb all our means and some way must be devised to carry us along, or we shall have to Stop the Road for want of funds. The People of Chicago, whom we owe, are clamorous for money and say they can carry no bigger load than they are now under of ours—and must have money. Contractors & Laborors [sic] on Road must be in same condition.

We must have on Line of Road an immense amt of Materiel [sic] of no value to us and could be sold if returned to Omaha. I understand the whole line of Road is piled up with Plows, Scrapers, Steel, Iron and every thing in profusion for construction of Road. Our Ties must be got for whole line of Road; cant [sic] we stop this heavy expense and every other thing that will cut down our expences [sic] ? Sell off the Teams to Contractors or Lumbermen before the Road is done, for just as soon as it is done, there will be no demand for them, and we might pay them off in this way. Dont [sic] have work done by day, if you can get it done by contract. Let every useless man come home or go to the mines, as they will get their living out of us, if they lag about the work. I feel that we must, if we come out with honor, do something immediately to retrench expenses. You, as the Mangager of the Construction, must feel any Slip up by which the Central should come out triumphant, and we Bankrupt keenly, and it would be a burning shame to us to suffer it.

Yours Respectfully,
Oliver Ames Prest

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Oliver Ames to Thomas C. Durant
  • Extent: 2 pages
  • Citation: Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Papers of Levi O. Leonard, Series II, Box 3, Folder 21 (Ames, Oliver, 1866-1876)
  • Date: January 4, 1869