Letter from Grenville M. Dodge to Oliver Ames, December 11, 1867

In this letter from December 11, 1867, Grenville Dodge writes to Oliver Ames discussing the need to make preparations and increase facilities for getting water along the railroad line. He tells Ames that unless such work is done, "you will find that it will be very costly to supply it each year from Stations or tanks."

Contractors Union Pacific Rail Road
20 Nassau St.

Oliver Ames Esqr. Pr UP.RR

20 Nassau St. New York Dear Sir:

It is evident to me that we will have to make more preparations & increase materially our facilities for getting water on our line. We are troubled now in a country furnishing running water at all seasons of the year. I think that a well & Tank gangs should be organized, who should put in wells and tanks not only at the well Stations, 18 Miles apart, but one intermediate halfway between each at the point where our intermediate side tracks are going. This party should precede the track men so far as to, at all times, have the well ready before track reaches the point, & who can demonstrate far enough in advance the probability of obtaining water at different points on the line so that our stations can be located in reference to it. Where wells do not furnish sufficient supply, drainage to the well by tiling should be adopted when practicable. When not, reservoirs should be made. The soil is such that it will hold water in lakes or reservoirs. And in many places ravines can be dammed at small cost, and water to be had at all times. I am confident that the placing of Tanks and side tracks at the intermediate Stations, as road is built, will save time & money. The amount of side track, then, would not exceed [6] pr [sic] cent of line [of] the side track from 100th Meridian West. Tanks, Wind Mills, Coal houses &c put on the line by the Company are all chargeable to the Contractors but now are up to the Company as repairs; this would render a vast difference in Nett [sic] earnings of the Road, if carried to proper account, and its showing. I also think that we should put up, immediately, the Rassett Wind Mill at all the permanent Stations, affording plenty of water and hereafter, that Contractors should be required to do this as fast as the road is built. The great benefit of the well and tank party being far in advance of the track, if they fail to find water a point designated as a station they may move a mile or two either either [sic] way and find it, and we can establish our stations at such points. From Medicine Bow to North Platte about 40 Miles & from North Platte 50 to 70 Miles west, we will be troubled for water, & we should not allow ourselves to get in [the] same position road now is in. I also urge, in the organization next year, full preparation be made to follow our track with the proper Station houses & that, early in the spring, we get under full head way, our Machine shops at North Platte & Cheyenne, that Machinery should all be contracted this winter, ready to go and into shops as soon as possible. I find considerable complaint here regarding this Matter, especially now when water is wanting on the line, and [the] Government is pressing us to get forward its winter supply.

In my opinion, by taking a little precaution, we can provide for & accommodate ourselves to the water as furnished by the Springs or as we may find it on the line. Unless we do, you will find that it will be very costly to supply it each year from Stations or tanks not located in reference to this question.

I am Respy,
G. M. Dodge
Chief Engineer

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Grenville M. Dodge to Oliver Ames
  • 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: December 11, 1867