Report of Division Engineer Samuel B. Reed: Surveys Made on Pacific Slope for the Union Pacific Railroad, 1865

In this January 31, 1866 report, Samuel B. Reed describes his surveys and explorations of the land from Salt Lake City, Utah to the California state line. He gives his recommendations for the route of the Union Pacific Railroad and suggests building the line from West to East (rather than from East to West), due to timber availability. He further suggests that subsequent survey crews should use camels, rather than horses or mules, due to the lack of water on a good portion of the route.


I have the honor to submit the following report of my explorations and surveys on the Pacific Slope of the continent, during the past season.

Early in April last I reported for duty in Omaha and on receipt of a letter of instructions proceeded direct to Great Salt Lake City with two assistants, S. W. V. Schimonsky and H. Bissell. A party was organized as soon after my arrival in Salt Lake City as possible and work commenced near the mouth of Weber Canon. The object of this survey was to ascertain the comparative merits of the line as surveyed in 1864 around the Sand Hills on the south side of Weber River, which extends from the base of the Wasatch Mountains westerly six (6) miles, with a new line crossing sand hills at or near the base of the mountains, which would save about ten miles of road.

After starting my party on this survey I made an extended reconnaissance of the country east of Utah Lake, to find, if possible, a practicable route over the Wasatch Mountains to Green River via Spanish Fork and the Uinta.

On my arrival in the village of Spanish Fork, where I expected to obtain men and supplies for the exploration, I found the people greatly excited and troubled in consequence of recent murders committed by the Indians in the country which I was desirous of exploring; It was only by the positive command of ex-Gov. Brigham Young that I could get men to accompany me. I employed 11 men and an Indian guide. We were well armed and mounted with our provisions on pack animals. It was with many misgivings that the small party started with me up the Spanish Fork Canon. From the Valley of Utah Lake to the headwaters of Spanish Fork there are no great difficulties to be encountered. I explored two affluents that empty into the Spanish Fork, from the north-east, hoping to find a low pass over the Wasatch Mountains to the Strawberry Valley Cut. In both instances was disappointed and forced back to the main stream, which I followed up to its source in a low pass over that part of the Wahsatch Range which is west of White River.

From the head waters of Spanish Fork to White River is one mile, with gradual slope east to the river, which, at this point runs due south. The width of the valley is about one half mile; I followed down the valley trying to round the high mountains which are immediately east of White River. Not succeeding I turned back and followed up a small tributary of White River northeast three miles to the summit of the Wahsatch Mountains. The route traveled east of White River is utterly impracticable for a railroad. As far east as I could see from the summit the mountains were very rugged, with deep crooked canons, down which the water from melting snow rushed with frightful rapidity. From this point I could trace the valley of White River for miles to the south, and the mountains on the west of White River seem to fall off. It may be possible to obtain a practicable route through the Wahsatch Mountains south of Utah Lake; thence westerly through the unexplored country, south of the great desert west of Salt Lake. After finishing my observations I followed the crest of the mountains northwesterly around the head waters of White River to the junction of this range of mountains with the range west of said stream.

This rough mountain country is well wooded with fir pine and in the more sheltered places with Quaking Asp.

All the north and east sides of the mountains are still (June 16th) covered with snow (within the last twenty-four hours one foot of new snow has been added to the old stock.) The abundance of timber, the large quantity of unmelted snow, and the frequent storms at this season of the year indicate a very high altitude.

After following the summit of the mountains north opposite Strawberry Valley, I descended the east slope of the mountain to said valley and travelled north fifteen miles, thence over the mountains westerly to the head waters of Hobble Creek, and down said creek to the valley of Utah Lake. You will find the line traveled indicated on the map by dotted lines.

From these explorations I am satisfied that it is impossible to find a practicable route from the valley of Utah Lake to the vicinity of Green River, via Spanish Fork and the Uinta. By following up the Spanish Fork to its source; thence down White River to or near its junction; with Green River at the mouth of the Uinta. This, as near as I could learn from my Indian guide, is about one hundred miles more than to go east over the mountains to the headwaters of the Uinta and down that stream to Green River.

Failing to find a practicable route over the mountains to the valley of the Green River, and not having supplies to subsist the party to make the explorations down White River, I paid them off and returned to Salt Lake City. I learned that my party had finished the survey over the sand ridge near the mouth of Weber Canon and had revised the line of 1864, at the head of Echo Creek, (Profiles and maps of both are herewith submitted). Both are impracticable as an examination of the maps and profiles will show.

After sending telegrams and letters to New York office descriptive of my explorations I started to join my party in the survey to South Pass. Obtaining an escort at Fort Bridger, we proceeded to the vicinity of Ham's Fork, commencing the South Pass survey at station 7461 of the survey of 1864, in the valley of Black's Fork.

After thorough explorations of the country between Ham's Fork and Green River, I run the line up the valley of Ham's Fork eight miles thence northeasterly over the divide, twenty and one half miles to Green River, crossing said stream one mile north of the mouth of the Sandy, up the valley of the Sandy, thirty miles to the Pacific Creek; thence up the valley of Pacific Creek thirty one miles to South Pass and down a small stream ten miles to the valley of the Sweet Water, two hundred and twenty seven 35/100 miles from Great Salt Lake City. I found by explorations that the line from a point seven miles up the valley of Ham's Creek can be produced westerly to the valley of the Muddy, without going South to the valley of Black's Fork, which should be done if the South pass line is adopted. See map.

The work on that part of the line between Ham's Fork and Green River will be expensive, some heavy rock excavations are encountered.

The drainage is mostly to Black's Fork. Dry water courses are frequently crossed which have been worn into the soft shaly rook, leaving sharp ridges between. Numerous small bridges and culverts will be required to pass the water during seasons of melting snow, although at the time of the survey there was not one drop of water to be found between Ham's Fork and Green River. Stone for culverts and bridge abutments is convenient and abundant. The crossing of Green River will require an expensive bridge, eight hundred feet long. The stream flows over smooth solid rock and at time of the survey was eleven feet deep in the center of the river.

From Green River Valley to within three miles of the South Pass the excavation and embankment is generally light, but very little rock excavation will be found. Good stone for masonry can be obtained at all places within a short distance of the line.

East of South Pass, the country slopes gradually to the valley of the Sweet Water. But very little bridging and light excavations and embankments are required on this portion of the line.

The altitude of South Pass is 7470 feet above tide, 65 feet below the summit of Bridger Pass, 113 feet below the grade of the tunnel at the head of Lodge Pole Creek in the Black Hills, and 97 feet below the summit between Bear and Muddy (Rim of the Great Salt Lake Basin.)

From these altitudes an interesting fact is deduced, that the summit of all the passes through which surveys have been made over the great ranges of the Rocky Mountains are very nearly the same altitude above tidewater.

From all the information that I could obtain from telegraph operators and other persons who have lived several years in the mountains more obstructions will be encountered at and east of South Pass from snow than at any other place on the lines surveyed.

The Wind River Mountains, a very high, rugged east and west range, are immediately north of the pass. On the south, the divide of the continent tends southwesterly.

The prevailing storms are from southwest to northeast. When they reach the Wind River Mountains they are deflected east through the pass, driving the snow through South Pass and depositing it in immense quantities on the slope towards Sweet Water.

After completing my surveys I started my party westward to make a survey from Black's Fork to Green River at the mouth of Bitter Creek. I took a part of my escort to make an exploration of the country between Sweet Water and the valley of Bitter Creek.

From the end of my survey I traveled south twelve miles to the summit of the low hills which bound the Sweet Water Valley.

From the summit I saw an extensive plain, extending southwest and east without any appearance of water, except two small lakes about twelve miles southeast. To the east there were no mountains to be seen, the country indicating an open level plain to the North Platte, in the direction of Medicine Bow River. We descended the south slope of the hills and continued south for ten miles into the plain, which was level, and destitute of vegetation, excepting here and there small patches of sage bash and a very little bunch grass.

Turning westerly we rode to the base of the mountains about fifteen miles, thence south one mile, to a pass through which, I think, a practicable line may be obtained to the valley of the Sandy. (See map.)

This line, if practicable, will avoid the deep snows and severe storms of South Pass.

There is no doubt about finding a favorable line from the North Platte, at or near the mouth of Medicine Bow River, north of Bridger Pass to the head waters of Bitter Creek.

Black Fork to Green River

In making the survey of 1864, I ran the line from a point in the valley of Green River, about twenty miles above the mouth of Bitter Creek, easterly, over the high table lands, to the north summit, which, it is advisable to avoid, if possible. The present line was commenced at station 8201, of the survey of 1864, in the valley of Black's Fork and runs southeasterly, down the valley, eight and one half miles, with an average descending grade of 5.3 feet per mile.

The valley as far as the line follows, presents no obstacle worthy of consideration. The grades and alignment are good; excavations and embankments not expensive.

At station 450 I left the valley and commenced ascending the divide. The grades, on the first two miles, average 39 feet per mile. From this point, the ascent to the summit, three and one half miles, is from fifty to one hundred and sixteen feet per mile. Grading and Bridging from the summit west to Black's Fork, not expensive. As soon as the line crosses the divide a marked change occurs in the topography of the country; the slope to Green River is much more abrupt and broken by small water courses, than on the west side of the range. The valley of Green River is narrow and the stream winds from side to side. Where the River washes the base of the bluffs, bold escarpments rise from one to three hundred feet. The prevailing rock is carboniferous sand, and clay, slate. Maximum grades, and curves of short radii, are unavoidable from the summit to the valley of the Green River. Thence down to the mouth of Bitter Creek the line was run on the west side of the river, which shows very heavy work, some, on the last two miles, can be avoided by crossing Green River two miles above the present crossing.

The grading on this part of the line will be expensive, all excavation is loose or solid rook. Expensive retaining walls may be required to protect the road bed in places in Green River Valley.

On arriving at mouth of Bitter Creek, I did not succeed in finding Mr. Evans' line. The topography of the country will not admit of changing my line but a few hundred feet, consequently Mr. Evan's line can not be very far from my termination.

Closing our work here we returned to Great Salt Lake where I hoped to receive instructions about the surveys west of the Great Salt Lake.

Owing to the continued hostilities of the Indians on the plains and in the mountains, no communications could be had with you either by telegraph or mail. As my instructions did not authorize making the survey west of the Lake, I did not feel at liberty to involve the expense without first exhausting all reasonable means to obtain your views on the subject. Failing to receive any instructions from the east, I, by the advice of ex-Gov. Brigham Young, organized my party, and loading my teams with supplies for three and one half months, commencing the survey at the south end of Great Salt lake, where my survey of 1864 terminates. Continuing around the south end of the Lake as near as the nature of the ground would admit, twenty miles to the north end of the mountains immediately west of Tuilla Valley. Thence southerly up Spring and Lone Rock Valleys, thirty miles to a pass through Cedar Mountains, which I thought, from explorations, would be favorable for a line over the mountains to the desert. From the base of the mountains to the summit, five and one half miles a very good line was obtained. On the western slope of the mountains the slope falls too rapidly to admit of a practicable line. After I had run down on the west side of the mountains far enough to determine the impracticability of the line I had but little water left and could not return and ran a new line around the south end of the mountains, which should be done before deciding upon a location, unless the line hereafter described crossing the Cedar Mountains nearly west of the south end of Salt Lake is adopted.

By continuing the line up Spring and Lone Rock Valley around the south end of Cedar Mountains, the distance to some point on the desert west of the mountains, common to both lines, will be increased about twelve miles, but this line would avoid all heavy grades and expensive excavation and embankment on any line over the mountains in this vicinity.

We continued the survey westerly on the desert 17.80 miles from the west base of Cedar Mountains to Granite Mountain, in the desert where we obtained water from a brackish spring about 800 feet above the level of the plains, and one mile up the canon from the base of the mountains. From thence across the remainder of the desert, extending south from the Great Desert, between Cedar and Goshoot Mountains, 23.40 miles to Redding Springs, at the east base of the Goshoot Mountains, 126.6 miles from Great Salt Lake City. When we arrived at the Springs the men and teams were nearly exhausted with fatigue and want of water; some were suffering severely with inflamed eyes caused by the reflection from the white incrustation of salt and alkali on the surface of the desert.

Leaving my party and teams at the Springs, I selected two of the best horses belonging to the escort, and taking one man with me, rode over the mountains, eighteen miles to the valley of Fish Creek; thence down the creek three miles and camped at what proved to be the last water in the creek. A few miles above the camp the stream furnishes an abundant supply of water for irrigating purposes and is thus used by Major Egan and a few other settlers in the valley. Before daylight the next morning we were making our way down the creek towards the desert, expecting to find water lower down the stream, but were disappointed.

From last night's camp down the creek ten miles the valley is about one mile wide, then for five miles to the desert is a close crooked canon. On the desert we turned easterly around the north end of Goshoot Mountains, twenty miles; thence south, near the mountains, to camp at Redding Springs; were in the saddle seventeen hours, without water; estimated days ride, sixty miles. There is no appearance of water in the mountains north of Redding Springs, at this season of the year. West of Fish Creek canon the same barren desert country continues to Clover and Baby valleys, without vegetation or water. Finding it impossible to procure water for my party and teams, I reluctantly abandoned making the survey across the remainder of the desert, and camp and supplies to Ruby Valley, to find a route over the Humboldt Mountains mountains to the Humboldt River. Commencing at the Overland Stage station, near the south end of Ruby Valley, the line runs westerly over the mountains, at Hastings Pass, to the head waters of the south branch of Humboldt 's River and down the valley fifteen miles.

The summit of the pass is 829 feet above Ruby Valley; the distance from the base of the mountains to the summit is too short to get a line up without winding along on the spurs of the mountains, to increase the distance, which would involve a very large expense for grading and bridging; the same difficulties were encountered on the western slope of the Mountains.

I returned to Ruby Valley and run northerly along the base of the mountains exploring every place where there seemed to be a probability of finding a line to the Humboldt Valley. The mountains are narrow high range, very precipitous on the east side. The north and east slopes of many of the highest points are covered with large fields of snow and at the base of the mountains a great number of springs of pure water burst out and flow into ponds and marshes in the center of the valley which has no outlet. The water is lost by absorption and evaporation.

The first place north of Hastings Pass where I thought it advisable to try a line over the Mountains, is Humboldt's Pass, about sixty miles north of Hastings.

A good line can be obtained to the summit from the east, which is 1235 feet above the Humboldt River 19 miles west of the summit, and 767 feet above the creek at the base of the mountains five miles west of the summit which would be 187 feet below grade, if we could run maximum descending grade from the summit to the base of the mountains. About one mile west of the summit, the small stream that flows west from the pass enters a narrow crooked canon four miles long, where it is impossible to build a road, if the grade of the stream would admit. The canon is very narrow, only wide enough for the small creek to wind its way down the crooked gorge. The walls on each side are from 50 to 200 feet high and in any places perpendicular. A line was run down this gorge to the base of the mountains, where my levels show the creek to be two hundred feet below grade line. Returning nearly to the head of the canon, I ran a second line crossing the deep ravines caused by the drainage from the high mountains. We worked around as near maximum grades as the nature of the ground would admit, bearing southerly to take advantage of the western slope, until we finally succeeded in reaching the base of the mountains. The grade from the summit west 11 miles, will be from 100 to 116 feet per mile. Curves of 500 feet radii cannot be avoided, the grading and Bridging will be very expensive.

From the base of the mountains to the Humboldt River, the line passes over a uniform descending surface. The valley at this place is about 15 miles wide, with some hills and table land elevated from twenty five to one hundred feet above the river. Westerly down the river the valley is wide and presents no engineering difficulties as far as explored.

For a description of the Humboldt Valley, from the mountains to the sink, about two hundred miles, I refer to extract from a Geographical Memoir addressed to the Senate of the United States, in 1848, by Col. Fremont, June 1848.

"The Humboldt river rises in two streams in mountains west of the Great Salt Lake, which unites, after some fifty miles, and breaks westerly along the northern side of the basin. The mountains in which it rises are round and handsome in their outline, capped with snow the greater part of the year, well clothed with grass and wood, and abundant in water.

The stream is a narrow line, without affluents, losing by absorption and evaporation as it goes, and terminating in a nearby lake, with low shore, fringed with bulrushes, and which exceed with saline incrustations. It has a moderate current, is from two to six feet deep in the dry season and probably not fordable anywhere below the junction of the forks during the time of melting snows, when both lake and river are considerably enlarged.

The country through which it passes (except its immediate valley) is a dry sandy plain, without grass, wood or arable soil; from about 4,700 feet (at the forks) to 4,200 feet (at the lake) above the level of the sea, winding among broken ranges of mountains, and varying from a few miles to twenty in width. Its own immediate valley is a rich alluvion, beautifully covered with blue grass, herd grass, clover, and other nutritious grasses, and its course is marked through the plains by a line of willows serving for fuel.

This river possesses qualities which, in the progress of events, may give it both value and fame. It lies on the line of freight to California and Oregon, and is the best route now known through the Great Basin; and the one travelled by emigrants. Its direction, mostly east and west, is the right course for that travel. It furnishes a level unobstructed way for nearly three hundred miles, and a continuous supply of the indispensible articles of wood, water, and grass."

Maps and reduced profiles of the surveys over Hastings and Humboldt Passes are herewith submitted.

The work is so very expensive and as a line was found over the mountains superior to either, no estimates have been made on these lines.

After closing the survey to the Humboldt River we followed up the valley N 35 E magnetic twenty five miles, thence commenced a new survey over the mountains easterly, following up a small tributary of the Humboldt 44 miles to the forks. One branch (the principle) comes in from the north. The other from the south east. We continued up the south branch 1.8 miles to the summit with average grade of only 25 feet per mile, and no place exceeding 60. Thence south easterly down through Clover Valley past the east side of Snow Water Lake, thence bearing more easterly we ran around the south end of Antelope Butte to the desert 42 miles from the starting point in Humboldt Valley. This line as you will observe by referring to the accompanying maps and profiles has no heavy work. The grades over the low ridge that represents the Humboldt Mountains Mountains does not in any place exceed 60 feet per mile.

I was very anxious to continue this survey easterly and connect it with my line run from the east but could not obtain water for my party.

The country was thoroughly explored and a line marked on the map which will be more direct from the summit to the desert than where we made the survey, and equally favorable.

About 50 miles east of the end of my intermediate survey there is a low pass through the range of mountains, that extends south from the east side of Thousand Spring Valley connecting with the mountains south of the desert.

The line should be run through this pass, then there is no difficulty in obtaining a line from Great Salt Lake City to the Valley of the Humboldt , a distance measured and estimated of 208.89 miles with grades not exceeding 60 feet per mile generally over a desert plain, without vegetation except occasional small patches of sage brush, Grease Wood, or salt plants and without fresh water on the line west of Tuilla Valley until we get within 35 miles of the Humboldt River.

From careful observations of the country in the vicinity of the mountains in and bordering the desert I am satisfied that fresh water can be obtained in the pass over Cedar Mountains and the first range crossed west of the desert also at any place on the line west of that range. This will leave a distance of sixty (60) miles without fresh water.

There is no accurate information to determine the practicability of obtaining fresh water on this portion of the line that I can give you.

The surface of the country is mostly covered with an incrustation of salt and alkali and the soil as far as I could ascertain is strongly impregnated with these minerals and when wet is soft and cannot be passed over with loaded wagons. When dry it is hard and will make, when thrown up in an embankment, a fine road bed with but little ballasting required to maintain a firm embankment in all seasons of the year.

I will here remark that the telegrams sent from New York August 17th, 1865 instructing me to make a survey from Salt Lake City to the East Line of the state of California was received September 18th while I was in the Humboldt Mountains. At that time I had not sufficient supplies to subsist my party to make the survey. My escorts also were short of rations. The nearest place that I could obtain a supply of flour and bacon was Salt Lake City.

The reason was so far advanced that I was compelled to abandon making the survey and after closing the work on the west side of the desert we returned to Spring or Lone Rock Valley and ran a line over the Cedar Mountains about thirty five (35) miles north of the line run on my outward trip. This line is favorable for the construction of the road. From the point of the mountains east of Spring or Lone Rock Valley west, eight (8) miles. Across the level desert valley to the east base of the mountains thence by easy grades and straight line to the summit of the pass. The line was continued down the west slope four (4) miles where the survey was terminated from necessity, being out of water it was impossible to continue farther west.

From this point the line should, as shown on the accompanying map, be run south westerly around a short range of mountains that lie immediately west of the pass, thence across the desert as shown on the maps.

Closing my work here I returned to the point of the mountain twelve (12) miles west of Salt Lake City, and run a line east across the level valley of the Jordan River connecting with the line of 1864 at station 1927 in the north west part of the city of Great Sale Lake.

This closes my field work.

  • 10.73 miles of line run from the mouth of Weber Canon over the sand ridge south of the river.
  • 6.00 miles at the head of Echo Canon, revising the line of 1864.
  • 22.98 miles from a point in the line of 1864, in the valley of Black's Fork, to the valley of Green River at the mouth of Bitter Creek.
  • 99.54 miles from a point in the line of 1864 in the valley of Black's Fork, via South pass to the Sweet Water River.
  • 105.60 miles from the west end of the line of 1864, west of Great Salt Lake City, west to Redding Springs.
  • 102.88 miles, in two lines over Humboldt Mountains to the valley of Humboldt River.
  • 42.69 miles from the valley of Humboldt River, east of the Humboldt Mountains to the desert.
  • 22.04 miles from Spring, or Lone Rock Valley, west over Cedar Mountains to the desert.
  • 11.60 miles across the valley of Jordan River.
  • 424.06 Total miles of line run.
  • 995.00 miles travelled with party.
  • 510.00 miles travelled, exploring Spanish Fork, and various other parts of the country, as shown on the map.

Estimates of the cost of building the road from Green River at the mouth of Bitter Creek and from the Valley of the Sweet Water via South Pass and the Great Salt Lake City to the East Line of the state of California.

As far as surveys have been made the estimates are based on actual quantities, across the desert and from the Valley of the Humboldt River west.

No instrumental surveys have been made. On the desert I have based the estimates on the work being equal to that portion between Great Salt Lake and the desert, adding a percentage to overcome the increased cost of doing the work.

In the Valley of the Humboldt , judging from information obtained from various parties living in the mountains and from published reports of explorations, the grading will be light, alignments good, and grades unobjectionable.

I estimate this portion of the line of cost $45,000 per mile.

The 40 miles from the Truckee River to the California State Line is estimated to cost the same per mile as the same distance through the Wahsatch Mountains east of Great Salt Lake City, viz: $72,000 per mile.

Estimated cost of Superstructure and Equipment for laying track for one hundred (100) miles:
40,000 Tons Rail@ $150$1,500,000
225 Tons Chains@ $40090,000
263 Tons Spikes@ $400105,200
240,000 Ties@ $2480,000
Track Laying@ $1500 per mile150,000
Engine House $30,000Repair Shop $60,00090,000
1. Eating HouseStation House30,000
Four (4) Station Houses@ $9,00036,000
Five (5) Tanks & Tank Houses@ $6,00030,000
One (1) First Class Turn Table, $5,000One 2 Second Class Turn Table7,500
Ten (10) Engines@ $25,500255,000
One Hundred (100) Flat Cars@ $2,000200,000
Seventeen (17) Hand Cars@ $2504,250
Add 10 pc. for Engineering & Contingencies298,355
Equals $32,819 per mile.
It will be observed that the above estimate includes rolling stock to do the track laying only.
Estimate From Green River at the Mouth of Bitter Creek to Great Salt Lake City, 214.42 miles.
3,440,000Cubic Yards Earth Excavation@ $0.80 =2,832,000
300,000Cubic Yards Rock Excavation@ $2.600,000
79,000Cubic Yards Tunneling@ $5.395,000
25,700Cubic Yards 1st Class Masonry@ $40.1,028,000
7,300Cubic Yards 2nd Class Masonry@ $20.148,000
240,000Feet B. M. Timber in Bridges@ $15036,000
13,000Pounds Wro'g Iron@ $0.607,800
25,000Pounds Cast Iron@ $0.307,500
12,000Lineal Feet Truss Bridging@ $1501,800,000
Machine Shop Station Building "Salt Lake City"200,000
Engineering & Contingencies705,230
Grading, Bridging & Masonry$36,179.11 per mile
Superstructure, Equipment & Stone32,818.89 per mile
Equals68,998.00 per mile
For 214.40 miles $14,794,551. From Great Salt Lake City west around the south end of Salt Lake and over Cedar Mountains to the desert 74.08 miles.
610,000Cubic Yards Earth Excavation@ $0.80$488,000
20,000Cubic Yards Rock Excavation@ $2.40,000
5,000Cubic Yards 1st Class Masonry@ $40.200,000
900Cubic Yards 2nd Class Masonry@ $20.18,000
60,000Feet B. M. Timber in Bridges@ $150.9,000
300Lineal Feet Truss Bridging@ $150.45,000
3,000Pounds Wro'g Iron@ $0.601,800
5,200Pounds Cast Iron@ $0.301,560
Engineering & Contingencies80,336
Grading, Bridging & Masonry$11,928.94 per mile.
Superstructure, Equipment & Stations$32,819.06 per mile
Equals$44,748.00 per mile
Total for 74.08 miles$3,314,868
Across the Desert to the base of the Humboldt Mountains Mountains 125.92 miles.
Estimated $50,000 per mile$6,296,000
From the Desert over the Humboldt Mountains Mountains to the Valley of the Humboldt River 8.80 miles.
145,000Cubic Yards Earth Excavation@ $0.80$116,000
1,000Cubic Yards 1st Class Masonry@ $40.40,000
100,000Feet B. M. Timber in Bridges@ $150.15,000
5,500Pounds Wro'g Iron@ $0.603,300
9,500Pounds Cast Iron@ $0.302,850
Engineering & Contingencies17,715
Grading, Bridging & Masonry$22,143.75 per mile.
Superstructure, Equipment & Stations$32,818.25 per mile
$54,962.00 per mile
For 8.80 miles$483,666

From the Valley of the Humboldt River to the Truckee River 305 miles.

Estimated @ $45,000 per mile: $13,725,000

From Truckee River to California State Line 40 miles.

Estimated @ $72,000 per mile: $2,800,000

Abstract of Estimated Cost of building the road from Green River to the State Line of the State of California.
Green RiverSalt Lake City214.42$68,998$14,794,557
Great Salt Lake CityDesert74.0844,7473,314,868
Across theDesert125.9250,0006,296,000
Over theHumboldt Mountains Mountains8.8054,962483,666
Humboldt ValleyTruckee River305.0045,00013,725,000
Truckee RiverCalifornia State Line40,00072,0002,800,000
Estimated Cost of construction from Sweet Water via South Pass and Great Salt Lake City, to the East Line of the State of California. From Sweet Water to Salt Lake City 279.68 Miles.
4,300,000Cubic Yards Earth Excavation@ $0.803,440,000
150,000Cubic Yards Rock Excavation@ $2.300,000
79,000Cubic Yards Tunnelling@ $5.395,000
24,000Cubic Yards 1st Class Masonry@ $40.960,000
8,000Cubic Yards 2nd Class Masonry@ $20.160,000
300,000Feet B. M. Timber in Bridges@ $150.45,000
12,000Lineal Feet Truss Bridging@ $150.1,800,000
20,000Pounds Wro'g Iron@ $0.6012,000
40,000Pounds Cast Iron@ $0.3012,000
Machine Shop Stations at Salt Lake City200,000
Engineering & Contingencies732,000
Grading, Bridging & Masonry$28,805.77 per mile.
Superstructure, Equipment & Stations$32,818.23 per mile
Total$61,624.00 per mile
For 279.68 miles$17,235,000
Abstract of Estimate for building the road from the Valley of the Sweet Water via South Pass and Great Salt Lake City to the East Line of the State of California. The estimate west of Salt Lake City is the same as on the line from Green River.
Sweet WaterSalt Lake City279.6861,624.0017,235,000
Salt Lake CityDesert74.0844,7473,314,868
Across theDesert125.9250,0006,296,000
Over theHumboldt Mountains Mountains8.8054,962483,666
Humboldt ValleyTruckee River305.0045,00013,725,000
Truckee RiverCalifornia State Line40.0072,0002,800,000

Timber and Fuel.

This is an important question and should be thoroughly investigated before deciding on a location for the road.

In my report of the surveys of 1864, I described several places from which timber for ties bridges and. buildings, and coal for fuel, can be obtained.

This year's surveys have not developed any points as favorable for procuring timber and fuel.

In the Wind River Mountains, twenty to thirty miles north of the South Pass Line, pine, fir and quaking asp can be obtained. It is reported by mountaineers that there is coal near the base of the mountains. I did not find it, and have not much faith in the reports.

Great Salt Lake City west to the Valley of the Humboldt .

On this portion of the line timber for ties, bridges, and buildings is very scarce and only found in limited quantities in the first two ranges of mountains west of Salt Lake City.

The limited quantity of timber that can be obtained here is confined to the narrow canon near the summit of the mountains where it cannot be reached without great trouble and expense.

I suggest and strongly recommend that the road should be commenced and built from the west end east to Salt Lake City. In building in this way an inexhaustible supply of timber can be obtained from the Sierra Nevada Mountains for building the road and for fuel. Some timber suitable for fuel only grows in the Humboldt Mountains and Cedar Mountains.

In all my explorations west of Salt Lake I examined thoroughly for coal but did not find any signs of that mineral.

In conclusion I wish to advise for the benefit of the party completing these surveys that camels be obtained as pack animals.

From my experience mule and horse teams cannot be relied upon to carry water and food enough to subsist the men and teams while making the survey across the desert.

I also wish to acknowledge the many courtesies uniformly extended to me in furnishing supplies, oxen and transportation for making the survey by Ex Gov. Brigham Young and all other citizens of Salt Lake City with whom I have necessarily had business relations.

To Major Genl. Dodge for promptly furnishing one with a requisition on the various posts under his command for escorts and the officers in command of the posts for cheerfully and promptly furnishing escorts when demanded. Most of the surveys have been made in a country where the Indians were decidedly hostile and to constant watchfulness to guard against the attacks of the Indians and cheerful obedience of orders by any part, my success is attended.

I am very respectfully, Yr. Obt. Servt.

About this Document

  • Source: Report of Division Engineer Samuel B. Reed: Surveys Made on Pacific Slope for the Union Pacific Railroad, 1865
  • Author: Samuel B. Reed
  • Citation: Nebraska State Historical Society, Samuel Reed Papers (Union Pacific Railroad Collection), MS 3761, Unit 1, Subgroup 14, Series 1, Box 2, Folder: "Survey, Pacific Slope, 1865"
  • Date: January 31, 1866