of ten or
ocean to ocean"—so say the Americans; and these four words compose
the general designation of the "great trunk line" which crosses the entire
width of the United States. The Pacific Railroad is, however, really divided
into two distinct lines: the Central Pacific, between San Francisco and
Ogden, and the Union Pacific, between Ogden and Omaha. Five main lines
connect Omaha with New York.
and San Francisco are thus united by an uninterrupted metal ribbon, which
measures no less than three thousand seven hundred and eighty-six miles.
Between Omaha and the Pacific the railway crosses a territory which is
still infested by Indians and wild beasts, and a large tract which the
Mormons, after they were driven from Illinois in 1845, began to colonise.
from New York to San Francisco consumed, formerly, under the most favourable
conditions, at least six months. It is now accomplished in seven days.
in 1862 that, in spite of the Southern Members of Congress, who wished
a more southerly route, it was decided to lay the road between the forty-first
and forty-second parallels. President Lincoln himself fixed the end of
the line at Omaha, in Nebraska. The work was at once commenced, and pursued
with true American energy; nor did the rapidity with which it went on injuriously
affect its good execution. The road grew, on the prairies, a mile and a
half a day. A locomotive, running on the rails laid down the evening before,
brought the rails to be laid on the morrow, and advanced upon them as fast
as they were put in position.
Railroad is joined by several branches in Iowa, Kansas, Colorado, and Oregon.
On leaving Omaha, it passes along the left bank of the Platte River as
far as the junction of its northern branch, follows its southern branch,
crosses the Laramie territory and the Wahsatch Mountains, turns the Great
Salt Lake, and reaches Salt Lake City, the Mormon capital, plunges into
the Tuilla Valley, across the American Desert, Cedar and Humboldt Mountains,
the Sierra Nevada, and descends, via Sacramento, to the Pacific—its grade,
even on the Rocky Mountains, never exceeding one hundred and twelve feet
to the mile.
the road to be traversed in seven days, which would enable Phileas Fogg—at
least, so he hoped—to take the Atlantic steamer at New York on the 11th
which he occupied was a sort of long omnibus on eight wheels, and with
no compartments in the interior. It was supplied with two rows of seats,
perpendicular to the direction of the train on either side of an aisle
which conducted to the front and rear platforms. These platforms were found
throughout the train, and the passengers were able to pass from one end
of the train to the other. It was supplied with saloon cars, balcony cars,
restaurants, and smoking-cars; theatre cars alone were wanting, and they
will have these some day.
news dealers, sellers of edibles, drinkables, and cigars, who seemed to
have plenty of customers, were continually circulating in the aisles.
left Oakland station at six o'clock. It was already night, cold and cheerless,
the heavens being overcast with clouds which seemed to threaten snow. The
train did not proceed rapidly; counting the stoppages, it did not run more
than twenty miles an hour, which was a sufficient speed, however, to enable
it to reach Omaha within its designated time.
was but little conversation in the car, and soon many of the passengers
were overcome with sleep. Passepartout found himself beside the detective;
but he did not talk to him. After recent events, their relations with each
other had grown somewhat cold; there could no longer be mutual sympathy
or intimacy between them. Fix's manner had not changed; but Passepartout
was very reserved, and ready to strangle his former friend on the slightest
to fall an hour after they started, a fine snow, however, which happily
could not obstruct the train; nothing could be seen from the windows but
a vast, white sheet, against which the smoke of the locomotive had a greyish
o'clock a steward entered the car and announced that the time for going
to bed had arrived; and in a few minutes the car was transformed into a
dormitory. The backs of the seats were thrown back, bedsteads carefully
packed were rolled out by an ingenious system, berths were suddenly improvised,
and each traveller had soon at his disposition a comfortable bed, protected
from curious eyes by thick curtains. The sheets were clean and the pillows
soft. It only remained to go to bed and sleep which everybody did— while
the train sped on across the State of California.
between San Francisco and Sacramento is not very hilly. The Central Pacific,
taking Sacramento for its starting-point, extends eastward to meet the
road from Omaha. The line from San Francisco to Sacramento runs in a north-easterly
direction, along the American River, which empties into San Pablo Bay.
The one hundred and twenty miles between these cities were accomplished
in six hours, and towards midnight, while fast asleep, the travellers passed
through Sacramento; so that they saw nothing of that important place, the
seat of the State government, with its fine quays, its broad streets, its
noble hotels, squares, and churches.
on leaving Sacramento, and passing the junction, Roclin, Auburn, and Colfax,
entered the range of the Sierra Nevada. 'Cisco was reached at seven in
the morning; and an hour later the dormitory was transformed into an ordinary
car, and the travellers could observe the picturesque beauties of the mountain
region through which they were steaming. The railway track wound in and
out among the passes, now approaching the mountain-sides, now suspended
over precipices, avoiding abrupt angles by bold curves, plunging into narrow
defiles, which seemed to have no outlet. The locomotive, its great funnel
emitting a weird light, with its sharp bell, and its cow-catcher extended
like a spur, mingled its shrieks and bellowings with the noise of torrents
and cascades, and twined its smoke among the branches of the gigantic pines.
were few or no bridges or tunnels on the route. The railway turned around
the sides of the mountains, and did not attempt to violate nature by taking
the shortest cut from one point to another.
entered the State of Nevada through the Carson Valley about nine o'clock,
going always northeasterly; and at midday reached Reno, where there was
a delay of twenty minutes for breakfast.
point the road, running along Humboldt River, passed northward for several
miles by its banks; then it turned eastward, and kept by the river until
it reached the Humboldt Range, nearly at the extreme eastern limit of Nevada.
breakfasted, Mr. Fogg and his companions resumed their places in the car,
and observed the varied landscape which unfolded itself as they passed
along the vast prairies, the mountains lining the horizon, and the creeks,
with their frothy, foaming streams. Sometimes a great herd of buffaloes,
massing together in the distance, seemed like a moveable dam. These innumerable
multitudes of ruminating beasts often form an insurmountable obstacle to
the passage of the trains; thousands of them have been seen passing over
the track for hours together, in compact ranks. The locomotive is then
forced to stop and wait till the road is once more clear.
indeed, to the train in which Mr. Fogg was travelling. About twelve o'clock
a troop of ten or twelve thousand head of buffalo encumbered the track.
The locomotive, slackening its speed, tried to clear the way with its cow-catcher;
but the mass of animals was too great. The buffaloes marched along with
a tranquil gait, uttering now and then deafening bellowings. There was
no use of interrupting them, for, having taken a particular direction,
nothing can moderate and change their course; it is a torrent of living
flesh which no dam could contain.
gazed on this curious spectacle from the platforms; but Phileas Fogg, who
had the most reason of all to be in a hurry, remained in his seat, and
waited philosophically until it should please the buffaloes to get out
of the way.
was furious at the delay they occasioned, and longed to discharge his arsenal
of revolvers upon them.
a country!" cried he. "Mere cattle stop the trains, and go by in a procession,
just as if they were not impeding travel! Parbleu! I should like to know
if Mr. Fogg foresaw this mishap in his programme! And here's an engineer
who doesn't dare to run the locomotive into this herd of beasts!"
did not try to overcome the obstacle, and he was wise. He would have crushed
the first buffaloes, no doubt, with the cow-catcher; but the locomotive,
however powerful, would soon have been checked, the train would inevitably
have been thrown off the track, and would then have been helpless.
course was to wait patiently, and regain the lost time by greater speed
when the obstacle was removed. The procession of buffaloes lasted three
full hours, and it was night before the track was clear. The last ranks
of the herd were now passing over the rails, while the first had already
disappeared below the southern horizon.
eight o'clock when the train passed through the defiles of the Humboldt
Range, and half-past nine when it penetrated Utah, the region of the Great
Salt Lake, the singular colony of the Mormons.