Letter from Samuel B. Reed to Wife and Family, July 30, 1868

In this letter from July 30, 1868, Samuel Reed writes to his wife and family describing the continuing negotiations over his position in the company. Reed speculates that he will be "fully sustained and have full power in the construction department."

I wrote you two days ago about my big fight. Hot and heavy shot have been poured into the enemies' stronghold, thick and fast the fight still continues. If I judge correctly, I shall be fully sustained and have full power in the construction department. There is so much work that I shall have to rely more on assistants for the details on the work than heretofore. I have more strong friends than I suspected. In my next I trust that I can inform you that 'I have met the enemy and they a oars.'

I have just sold my buggy and harness for $400.00. You can replace it at home or get a better one for that price. Get one and be comfortable as you can this hot weather. The thermometer here ranges from 70 to 90 degrees during the days, the nights are cool and pleasant, sleep with two pair of blankets over me. I trust you will visit me soon if I win the fight which I will if justice is done.

Dr. Durant had been figuring for some time to curtail Mr. Reed's power and give a portion of it to Mr. Evans and others. At this time he had an interview with Mr. Reed, during which he handed him his appointment, or reappointment rather, as superintendent of construction, for him to accept. Durant had written the document, commencing as follows: "I hereby appoint Samuel B. Reed, superintendent and engineer of construction of the U. P. R. R." He then added a long list of exceptions and restrictions. Mr. Reed took the paper, read it over, then taking his pencil and drawing it across all that followed the sentence quoted above, he said, "I accept it all but this." Doctor Durant was excited and paced up and down the room and asked Mr. Reed what he would do if that was not accepted. Mr. Reed said, "I will start for Salt Lake City tomorrow." His influence with Brigham Young and his skill as a railroad builder were too valuable to lose, so after a while, Durant said, "Well, all right, you are General Superintendent and Chief Engineer of construction same as last year."

Afterwards Mr. Durant wired Mr. Reed that as he (Mr. Reed) had so much to do and because of the great rush in the construction department, he would relieve Mr. Reed of the work of construction of the masonry for the bridges on 200 miles of the road and have Mr. Evans look after it. This message Mr. Reed carefully preserved and very fortunately for himself too, as afterwards when these bridges were completed the government inspectors refused them as not up to contract.

The New York directors at once wired Mr. Reed asking how it was that he failed to build these two hundred miles of road up to contract. He wired back that he held Mr. Durant's message taking the matter out of his hands and relieving him of all responsibility in the matter. Then there was a storm in New York and Doctor Durant had to acknowledge that Mr. Reed was not in any way responsible for the work done.

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: July 30, 1868