Amateur Theodore Judah was a fervent supporter of the central route railroad.
Amateur He lobbied vigorously in favor of the project and undertook the survey of
the route through the rugged Sierra Nevada, one of the chief obstacles of the project.
In 1852, Judah was chief engineer for the newly formed Sacramento Valley Railroad
the first railroad built west of the Mississippi River. Although the railroad
later went bankrupt once the easy placer gold deposits around Placerville,
California were depleted, Judah was convinced that a properly financed
railroad could pass from Sacramento through the Sierra Nevada mountains
In 1856, Judah wrote a 13,000-word proposal in support of a Pacific railroad
and distributed it to Cabinet secretaries, congressmen and other influential
people. In September 1859, Judah was chosen to be the accredited lobbyist
for the Pacific Railroad Convention, which indeed approved his plan to
survey, finance and engineer the road. Judah returned to Washington in
December 1859. He had a lobbying office in the United States Capitol,
received an audience with President James Buchanan,
and represented the Convention before Congress.
Judah returned to California in 1860. He continued to search for a more
practical route through the Sierra suitable for a railroad.
In mid-1860, local miner Daniel Strong had surveyed a route over the Sierra
for a wagon toll road, which he realized would also suit a railroad. He
described his discovery in a letter to Judah. Together, they formed an
association to solicit subscriptions from local
merchants and businessmen to support their proposed railroad.
Four northern California businessmen formed the Central Pacific
Crocker, (1822–1888), Construction Supervisor. All became substantially
wealthy from their association with the railroad.