Letter from Oliver Ames to Thomas C. Durant, April 2, 1868

In this letter from April 2, 1868, Oliver Ames writes to Thomas C. Durant discussing construction and the organization of work forces for the upcoming season's work on the railroad. He also advises Durant to meet in person with representatives of the Chicago and North Western Railroad to settle disagreements over the contract Durant made with them, stating "we cannot afford to have any trouble this Season with Them that will make them give a preference to other freight over ours." Ames states that he believes the Union Pacific Railroad will be "flush" after they receive government bonds in July and sell their first mortgage bonds.

Dr. T. C. Durant

Dear Sir,

In organizing our force on the Road for this Season, I think You should, at the very earliest moment, put the Graders in that 60 or 70 miles of country that is without water except in the Spring. We cannot commence too early on this. We should also have a force whose special duty it is to sink wells where we expect to have Depots. We suffered very much last Summer from neglect of ample and seasonable provision for water and, in some cases, put our Depots where it is almost impossible to get water and would be now economy to remove them. The Force for construction of Depots should also be organized, and I think if Stone Masons can be easily obtained it would be economy for us in this stony country to construct them of Stone.

The Machine Shop and Round House at Cheyenne should be immediately started, and it cant [sic] be got ready too soon. We have the Machinery ordered for it to be shipped on the opening of Navigation, Machine Shop Round House and Blacksmith Shop can all be built of the rough Stone of the Country or those taken out from our cuts on line of Road, and if Stone Masons can be easily obtained, will cost no more than wood and will be safer against fire and very much better than wood. I think the North Platte Machine Shop and Blacksmith Shop [are] as large as needed at Cheyenne. The Round House should be Larger.

You, Dillon & McCombs can decide this matter on the ground, and will You write me how soon the Machinery will be needed? We ordered it to be delivered on opening of Navigation. I suppose we shall have to pay for it then, if ready by cash or notes of Co. The contract with the Chicago & N. Western RR for construction Freight should be decidedly fixed, as to what is, and what is not, construction Material. They are now feeling that we are trying to put things in that contract that were not intended to go there. We cant [sic] afford to have any trouble this Season with Them that will make them give a preference to other freight over ours. They have always seemed to be anxious to have it settled just according to contract. And as You made this contract with Them, You can undoubtaly [sic] settle it better with Them than any one else.

If You have time, would it not be wise to take the a/c along with You to Chicago and have a confrerence [sic] with Dunlap or the parties who made the contract with You and settle it? Our Money matters after quarter day can be more readily fixed to our minds. We shall undoubtedly have to be large Borrowers up to July, when I hope we shall be receiving Govt Bonds enough to make us easy, and if our 1st Mtg Bonds shall sell as rapidly as may be expected, we shall be flush. Hoping You will have a good time going over the Road and find men and teams enough to put the first three Hundred Miles under contract and cover it.

I Am very Respectfully Yours,
Oliver Ames

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Oliver Ames to Thomas C. Durant
  • Extent: 3 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: April 2, 1868