The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953

VOL. LVI APRIL, 1953 No. 4
Origins of the eras and Pacific
A MOMENTOUS question in the middle years of the nineteenth
century was that of constructing railroads to the Pacific,
and the story of the Texas and Pacific, including its
predecessor companies, is a significant part of this captivating
phase of national and Texas history. The western movement of
population in the 1840's, the acquisition of the Columbia River
territory, the Mexican War, the conquest of California, and the
cession of land from Mexico all lent interest to the idea of a
railroad to the Pacific. Moreover, after the discovery of gold in
California, almost a hundred thousand persons had migrated to
the West Coast. Military necessity and the desire for mail service,
to say nothing of the lure of Asiatic trade, were further factors.
As a result of this interest in a transcontinental railroad, a
number of internal improvement conventions were held in the
1840's and 1850's. The Memphis convention of 1845, however,
gave little attention to railroads west of the Mississippi River,
except to go on record as favoring a transcontinental railroad
over a southern route. A convention in Chicago in 1847 adopted
resolutions favorable to a transcontinental railroad over a central
route. At St. Louis in 1849 another group recommended a route
from St. Louis to San Francisco with branches to Chicago and
Memphis, and at Memphis in 1849 still another convention sup-
ported a southern route with a terminal at Memphis. These
delegates also recommended that the West be organized into
states in order to get away from any constitutional objections.
No compromise route was suggested, but Albert Pike subsequent-
ly advanced a plan to build lines from both St. Louis and
Memphis. Other conventions were held at Philadelphia in i850,
'Robert E. Riegel, The Story of the Western Railroads (New York, 1926), 17-19.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 31, 2016.

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