Letter from Samuel B. Reed to Wife and Family, August 6, 1867

In this letter from August 6, 1867, Samuel Reed writes to his wife and family describing various business items regarding Union Pacific Railroad construction. He also mentions that several of the railroad's "best men" have recently died, due to illness or Indian attacks.

As I promised you in my last letter, will now write more in detail. Mr. Dillon and quite a number of the government directors have been here and expressed themselves highly pleased with the way the work is being pushed ahead. I have twenty miles more of the road built this year than we had last year at the same time, notwithstanding we have lost half of the month of July account of high water in the Missouri River. The rock excavation in the mountains is to be pushed ahead, as rapidly as possible and I hope to get the track to the summit this fall. Everything with Dillon is as pleasant as circumstances will admit. He is anxious to push the work ahead rapidly.

I returned to Omaha, NE with the party. On the way down we passed Mr. Durant and party going west. The doctor was cheerful. I only saw him a moment on my return to Julesburg. They had gone to the end of the track and did not stop more than five minutes on their way east. There is a very strong effort being made to reinstate the Doctor and it may succeed. Should such be the case I would probably be permitted to resign, although no one can tell what the Doctor means by his word and actions. I have generally found it safe to take him by contraries and if such is the case, my chances are first rate, should he succeed in being reinstated. The grading is well in advance of the track and everything on my part is done to push ahead rapidly to the base of the mountains early in October.

There seems to be a fatality attending many of the best men on the road. Last year many a good man connected with the road in various capacities died in Omaha, NE. You know what a narrow escape I had. This season, among the lost are Hills Brown and Clark, engineers, killed by Indians. Some others have been killed or badly wounded; and now I have to inform you of another severe affliction to one of our best engineers. Mrs. Evans, who was one of the party when we started for the mountains, on her return to Omaha, NE was attacked with fever and died last Sunday morning. I have sent to Chicago for a thermometer that will measure the temperature of melted iron to ascertain the heat at this place. It seems almost unbearable, so great is the heat during the day. The nights are more comfortable.

I have to make another trip to the mountains and expect to start tomorrow. It is only about a hundred miles from the end of the track to Carmichael's work and men are at work most of the way. Major North will go with me with an escort of Pawnees. There will also be about twenty-five other persons, all well armed, making fifty in all. There have been no Indian troubles near the line west of here since you were at Julesburg. I expect to return here about the sixteenth of this month. I shall go with my buggy and make myself as comfortable as circumstances will permit.

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Samuel B. Reed to Wife and Family
  • Citation: Nebraska State Historical Society, Samuel Reed Papers (Union Pacific Railroad Collection), MS 3761, Unit 1, Subgroup 14, Series 1, Box 2, Letters to Wife and Family
  • Date: August 6, 1867