Amateur In June 1864, the Central Pacific
Amateur railroad entrepreneurs opened Dutch Flat and Donner Lake
Wagon Road (DFDLWR). Costing about $300,000 and a years worth of
work, this toll road wagon route was opened over much of the route the
Central Pacific railroad (CPRR) would use over Donner Summit to carry
freight and passengers needed by the CPRR and to carry other cargo over
their toll road to and from the ever-advancing railhead and over the Sierra
to the gold and silver mining towns of Nevada. As the railroad advanced,
their freight rates with the combined rail and wagon shipments would
become much more competitive. The volume of the toll road freight traffic
to Nevada was estimated to be about $13,000,000 a year as the Comstock
Lode boomed, and getting even part of this freight traffic would help pay
for the railroad construction. When the railroad reached Reno, it had the
majority of all Nevada freight shipments, and the price of goods in Nevada
dropped significantly as the freight charges to Nevada dropped
significantly. The rail route over the Sierras followed the general route of
the Truckee branch of the California Trail, going east over Donner Pass and
down the rugged Truckee River valley.
The route over the Sierra had been plotted out by Judah in preliminary
surveys before his death in 1863. Judah’s deputy, Samuel S. Montague was
appointed as Central Pacific’s new Chief Engineer, with Lewis M. Clement as
Assistant Chief Engineer and Charles Cadwalader as second assistant.
To build the new railroad, detailed surveys had to be run that showed
where the cuts, fills, trestles, bridges and tunnels would have to be built.
Work that was identified as taking a long time was started as soon as its
projected track location could be ascertained and work crews, supplies and
road work equipment found to be sent ahead. Tunnels, trestles and bridges
were nearly all built this way. The spread-out nature of the work resulted
in the work being split into two divisions, with L.M. Clement taking the
upper division from Blue Cañon to Truckee and Cadwalader taking the
lower division from Truckee to the Nevada border. Other assistant
engineers were assigned to specific tasks such as building a bridge, tunnel
or trestle which was done by the workers under experienced supervisors.