Negotiable within range Supervisor:
During the last few weeks I have received many letters from persons in different parts of the country, making inquiries in regard to the Northern Pacific railroad—what the prospects are in regard to its construction, what the present and what the prospective condition of the enterprise is.
As it is a project in which the people of the Eastern States have ever felt a lively interest, it will be my aim in this connection to answer the above inquiries. Stevens was the Governor of Washington Territory, and was put in charge of the survey. President Pierce has just been borne to his final resting place.
Davis is still alive, bearing a burden which can never be laid aside, which he must carry through life. Stevens, alone, of the three, is gratefully held in remembrance by his countrymen. The unscrupulousness of Davis in public affairs was manifest to those who knew him best long before the rebellion was inaugurated.
Stevens made his report, the superiority of the route over the Central and Southern lines was at once apparent, especially in the amount of arable land, and Davis, with his own hand, without any warrant for so doing, falsified the report of Gov. Nothing was done toward constructing a railroad to the Pacific till after the breaking out of the war, when the Central Pacific was chartered, followed by the Union Pacific both of which had liberal land grants and were aided by the issue of land grants and bonds, as everybody knows.
In the Northern Pacific Company was organized, the prime mover of the enterprise being Mr. He went to Washington, laid the project before Congress, and obtained a land grant, and there the matter dropped.
Perham labored hard to get the public interested, borrowed money of everybody who would lend, got into debt, became discouraged, and finally found parties who were willing to take the franchise and pay some of his debts. Extravagant reports were circulated at the time in regard to the amount of money he had received.
He was reported a wealthy man, but the amount did not cover his indebtedness, and he died soon after in poverty. The new holders of the franchise were men from different parts of the country but one after another dropped off when they came to see the magnitude of the undertaking and the difficulties in the way of construction—not physical, but financial obstacles.
The children of Israel three thousand years ago found it hard work to make bricks without straw, and the gentlemen connected with the enterprise found that thirty centuries had not modified the fact.
It was found that the public was not ready to invest in an enterprise where there was no guarantee of interest by Government. The Government itself offered the very best securities; the Central and Union Pacific bonds were good, and so all the floating capital of the country was absorbed.
For these reasons, one after another, although fully convinced of the feasibility of the route, and of the inestimable value of the road to the country when completed, gave up their connection with the project and turned their attention to other things. Those who remained went before Congress and asked for the issue of bonds in aid of the enterprise, but they encountered opposition and the request was denied.
Surveying parties meanwhile were sent into the field. Two routes were surveyed from Lake Superior to the Mississippi, and one from Puget Sound to the Columbia—at an immense outlay of money. A second attempt was made to obtain Government aid after the completion of the survey, and a bill was reported in which aid was granted to the Northern and also to the Southern Pacific road, but no action was taken upon it.
It fell to the ground of its own weight, and through the opposition of other roads.
Each alternate section of land, on both sides of the road, for twenty miles, is granted to the Company, making a total grant of about forty-seven million acres. The Company cannot receive any land till twenty-five miles of the road is constructed.
Forty-seven million acres seems a large amount of land to be granted to one corporation, and it is; but this amount failed to enlist capitalists in the enterprise. They could do better with their money. The inducement was not very great for the general public to take stock in such an enterprise, for the sale of land must necessarily be slow with all the Government lands, the alternate sections, in the market at the same time.
If the great capitalists of the country could not be induced to take hold of it, there was no probability that the farmers, mechanics and those who had accumulated small savings would invest.
The friends of the enterprise therefore waited for a more favorable state of affairs, but meanwhile enlisted some of the ablest railroad men of the country. The President of the Company is J. Gregory Smith, of St.
Associated with him are Hon. Rice of Augusta, Me. Edgar Thompson, of the Pennsylvania Central; Messrs. Canfield, of Burlington Vt.
Jay Cooke, of Philadelphia; Mr.
Stinson, of Chicago, and other gentlemen identified with the railroad interests of the country. An arrangement was made some months ago with Mr. Cooke whereby he was appointed the financial agent of the Company.
But that gentleman, before fully accepting the position, wished to have a report from his own agents and engineers in regard to the feasibility of the line and the features of the country between Lake Superior and Puget Sound, in order that he might act understandingly, and go before the capitalists of the country with such evidence as would convince them of the high character of the enterprise for the carrying out of which he might solicit their aid.
To accomplish this, two exploring parties were organized last summer, one to examine the country from Lake Superior westward, the other to commence at Puget Sound and examine the country eastward to the headwaters of the Missouri.
Having received a cordial invitation to spend my summer vacation with the Lake Superior party, I gladly accepted it, and shall long have a lively recollection of our first thunder storm, of our jolly times while toasting salt pork and pulling big logs into camp.Ever-Green Energy Jemne Building is State of MN Best of B3 Finalist.
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