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Southern Pacific is a monument to the enterprise and vision of Leland Stanford, Collis P. These Sacramento merchants, famed in later years as the "Big Four," became impressed with plans for a railroad east over the Sierra as conceived by Theodore D. Typical of the courage and daring that characterized the successful exploits of many western pioneers, the four associates launched the project, unmatched in all the story of rail transportation, without any one of them ever having been remotely connected with a construction project of greater magnitude than the erection of their own store buildings.Against the advice of their friends and in the face of strong opposition and ridicule they threw their entire resources and personal credit into the project.How they accomplished the task is an epic chapter in the history of the West.

The story of the early beginnings of this great railroad project is the story of the West, the saga of individual initiative and courage that spanned a nation with bands of iron rail and nurtured the development of today's western empire.

Construction of the rail highway for the Iron Horse from the Pacific Coast to the Missouri River was one of man's greatest accomplishments.

From this prosaic early environment the two hardware merchants became financial geniuses; the weigher of sugar and tea developed into a master organizer and political leader; while the man who had stood behind a ribbon counter rose to command men in a construction undertaking that startled the engineering world.

Judah, 34, had completed in 1856 the 28-mile line of the Sacramento Valley Railroad from Sacramento to Folsom, first railroad operated in the far West.

The benefits of a transcontinental railroad, it seems, should have been obvious to all thinking men, but the idea took root only gradually and met with strenuous opposition.

The first plan to receive consideration of Congress was one in 1836.

THE PUBLICATION of this historical sketch of the development of Southern Pacific seems particularly appropriate at this time when the railroad's organization has added, in terms of achievement, another outstanding chapter to the history of the road. Out on line, in the yards, in the shops and offices, day and night they will continue to do the greatest job in our history." Such confidence was, indeed, well merited; for during the entire war period the Southern Pacific organization, despite serious handicaps of manpower and equipment shortages, kept unprecedented volumes of traffic moving to surpass any previous accomplishment in the company's existence.

In taking over the office of president on December 11, 1941, four days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President A. Mercier issued a message to Southern Pacific men and women saying that "our first duty is to our government in the war," and added: "The job is being tackled by all hands in the traditional spirit that built our western link of America's transcontinental railroad — the same spirit that has since won through in every crisis of flood, storm and disaster. With the return of peace, President Mercier has pledged that "all our resources of manpower and physical facilities will again be turned to furthering development of the area served by our lines and to provide progressive, friendly service to our customers." This booklet presents in concise form the history of Southern Pacific from its founding through World War II.

Its completion gave birth to a new era, and the expansion of its western lines is evidenced today in the far-flung properties of the Southern Pacific Company.

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