Western Pacific Railroad History Online Banner

Through Passenger Service Begins

Page 2

Engine 104 was pulling this first westbound passenger train over this portion of Gould’s last link to the coast, emerging from beneath the umbrella sheds at the west of the depot, the train followed the new tracks for its run toward Garfield. R. M. Olgilvie, superintendent eastern division of the Western Pacific, was in charge of the running of the train while the train crew was made up of W. J. Meehan conductor, Charles Sullivan engineer, Arthur Gregory fireman and Brakemen H. L. Woods and J. Wraggs. And while no effort was made to create a speed record the journey being undertaken for the purpose of enabling the newspaper men to observe the road itself and the points of interest along the line, the train went along at a good clip skimming over the brown plains between Salt Lake and the smelter city near the lake, Garfield.

Overnight the party had grown in importance and equipment by the coming of railroad officials and newspapermen from Colorado and even farther east. In charge of Major S. K. Hooper, general passenger agent of the Denver and Rio Grande, was a party of Colorado newspapermen and railroad officials. They joined the party at Salt Lake City and spent part of that Friday afternoon inspecting the new Denver and Rio Grande and Western Pacific depot and terminal facilities. Their cars were attached to the special during the night. The party would accompany the special to San Francisco and return at its leisure.

Those in the party were: Major S. K. Hooper, general passenger agent, Denver and Rio Grande; C. L. Stone, passenger traffic manager, Missouri Pacific railway; A. S. Andrews, Pueblo Chieftan, William Scully, Colorado Springs Herald-Telegraph; Frank C. Farrar, Rocky Mountain News; J. G. Hilllard, Denver Republican; Frank L. Webster, Denver Post; and Homer Carr, Chicago Tribune.

The Salt Lake newspaper fraternity was represented by Kenneth C. Kerr, President of the Salt Lake Press Club and railroad editor of the Salt Lake Tribune; Arthur Brown, Salt Lake Herald-Republican; W. J. Sloan, Salt Lake Telegram; J. W. Hyde, Deseret Evening News; Edward Charlton, Rocky Mountain News of Denver; Frank Francis, Ogden Standard.

Among the distinguished accessions to the party besides the newspapermen, S. V. Dorah, assistant general freight agent of the Western Pacific and the Denver and Rio Grande and Salt Lake; H. S. Twining, district superintendent of the Pullman company; Julius Kahn, Congressman from the fourth district of California and C. R. Erwin, President of Lord & Thomas, Chicago joined the party at Salt Lake City. Erwin was on the special merely as a sightseer, having come all the way from Chicago to make the first run over the new road as the guest of his old personal friend Lomax.

It was a sleepy crowd on the train that morning following the session in Salt Lake which had continued long after midnight. But in due time the special glided over the billiard table levels of the marvelous salt when word went from coach to coach that there would be something worth witnessing in the new steel club car before long. Coat less, vest less, cap less, they gathered, and the cameraman got ready.

The host of all these festivities was lured in and, unsuspectingly enough, waited for somebody to start something. The newspaper contingent, led by the Californians started it. The train just then halted, and they woke the sleeping desert with this chorus:

Has anybody here seen Lomax?
L-O-M-A-X!
Has anybody here seen Lomax?
Lomax with the new railroad.

Sure, and his hair is thin
And he wears a grin.
And the S. P. he will skin!

Has anybody here seen Lomax?
Lomax, the P. T. M.

Now Lomax was a modest mild mannered man, he was covered with confusion and yet amused. Colonel George Pippy went at him quickly, a simple obviously spontaneous little talk about like this:

"Mr. Lomax, the gentlemen traveling with you from San Francisco and other towns to Salt Lake desire me to say to you that we appreciate your hospitality and the splendid treatment we have received. We want to say to the officers of the Western Pacific, over you that we approve of their choice, and we hope they will recognize our approval. We now see why they have selected you as their chief traffic man. You not only have our friendship from the manner in which you have handled the railroad end of it, but you have also won our hearts by your hospitality and your genial good nature. On behalf of the gentlemen from California and Nevada I desire to present to you a little souvenir. It is not of any great monetary value, but with it go our best wishes for your future success. You are now taking a part in the History of the great west, something that will live for years and years to come. The people west of Salt Lake City highly appreciate What you and your people have done for us. You have brought them the means now of gaining great wealth and prosperity, and it is up to the people of the west to show their appreciation.”

Much moved, the veteran railroad man took the jeweled gold match box that the Californians and Nevadans had procured at Salt Lake. Thanking his guests for their token of appreciation, he said:

“I want to thank you very much indeed for the remembrance of the California and Nevada gentlemen who have been placed in my care on this trip. I want to say that this is very highly appreciated by me. I want to say, further, on behalf of the officers of the Western Pacific, that we thank you a thousand times for the representation that you have given us on this trip. In thanking you, and those whom you represent, we recognize that the press of the country is, just as great an educator, if not more so, than is the railway. Take a commission of the railroad and the press and you have an advance guard, so to speak, of everything that stands for progress and for higher civilization in this country. There are very few undertakings that ever materialize success in which the press does not play a most important part, and on this occasion, The opening of a new railroad and a new country, it is very essential, it seems to me, that the press should be represented. We want the press with us, for it is up to them to elaborate the idea of what the railroad means to the development of this country, and probably more up to them than any other class of business in this country. Therefore you can understand how delighted we, the officers of the Western Pacific, are over the representation that you have given on this, the initial trip, which we hope will be an historic event. We hope the Western Pacific will bring a greater population, more wealth and greater facilities of commerce than this western country has had in the past. We thank you again for this remembrance and I ask your help and assistance in our behalf. Tour criticisms of our service are freely invited. We want you to point out what are the best things to do. Sometimes railroad people, like other people, get in a rut. We want to avoid all that. We stand before you as a new, proposition untrammeled by past promises or traditions and with one purpose the up building and development of this great western country.”

Then came a yell for G. Fred Herr, the tall and capable assistant of Lomax and a neat bit of a speech by Horn of the Chronicle, who handed him a pair of gold sleeve links and scarf pin. There was a roar of approval when the name of Clyde Opelt was called, for Opelt is the superintendent of the Western Union dining car service and personally in charge of the creature comforts of the special. Be it noted that, notwithstanding the intricate and vexatious business of train catering just begun for the long and yet sparsely settled stretch, a third the width of the United States, the dining car of the first train had been a three times a day delight to the crowd. Opelt surely knew how.

The party was much interested the salt beds at Salduro and after the train crossed the Nevada State line at 10:50 am and during a 15 minute stop found Wendover was now a thriving town.

The first reception to the first westbound Western Pacific train was held at Elko beginning at 3:30 pm when the train arrived for a 10 minute stop. A crowd of 500 prominent citizens gathered at the new depot to welcome the representatives of the press and the officials of the road.

Following the exchange of greetings by a committee of Elko citizens, E. A. P. Johnson delivered a short address of welcome to the new road. E. L. Lomax, passenger traffic manager was called upon for an address, but outside of a few words of thanks he was unable to respond on account of the cheers of the citizens of Elko and the press representatives who were singing: "Has anybody here seen Lomax?"

R. L. Hubbard, candidate of congress on the democratic ticket and Julius Kahn, congressman from California also addressed the gathering.

The new depot at Elko was less than a block from the center of the town. The freight yards and spur tracks were laid out exactly like the team tracks in San Francisco, which would prove of great assistance to the shippers of the town.

The run from Elko to Winnemucca was made without stops in order to allow the citizens of Winnemucca a rousing welcome. The special did not arrive at Winnemucca until after dark, an hour late, however it was not too late for the citizens of this bustling little town to turn out in full force. The special was met at 10 pm by about half the population of Winnemucca, headed by the brass band of the town. City officials held a big jubilee at the station and vaudeville entertainment was provided by the newspaper boys in the freight depot.

Prior to the inspection of the town, addresses of welcome were made by T. A. Brandon and Rev. Mr. Bonnefen. The train was then parked for the night and would leave at 5 am the next morning, the 21st. The all night stop was made in order to allow the passengers to see the road by daylight.

While the newspapermen were drowsing through the Utah-Nevada desert it occurred to them that it would be not only courtesy, but justice, to let the head of the Western Pacific organization on the Pacific Coast know what they thought about the great enterprise which he and his associates have just brought to completion. They sat down around one of the numerous typewriters which have clicked a continuous accompaniment to this excursion of praiseful observation and composed the following message to Vice President Charles H. Schlacks, which was dispatched at Winnemucca:

En Route, Aug. 20, 1910.
Charles H. Schlacks, Vice President Western Pacific Railway, San Francisco, Cal.
The representatives of 40 leading newspapers of the United States extend through you greetings and congratulations to every man who in any way has been connected with the financing, building, opening and operating of this last link in a great ocean, to ocean line, the realization of the dream of the railroad men, a low grade, a perfect roadbed, with the finest equipment, through nearly 900 miles of virgin country, with an executive and operating force who anticipate the wants of the traveling public and supply them even before they have been made known. Through you, and in behalf of the newspapers, which we represent, we wish to extend our hearty congratulations on the opening of this great railway to the executive and operating departments; especially do we compliment E. L. Lomax, passenger traffic manager; G. F. Herr, assistant general passenger agent; H. M. Adams, freight traffic manager, and W. J. Shotwell, assistant general freight agent. May the business of the Western Pacific increase by leaps and bounds is the sincere wish of the newspapermen on this, the first passenger train to be operated over the Western Pacific;

PRESS REPRESENTATIVES ON NEWSPAPER SPECIAL.

Previous Page Previous Page Next Page Next Page

Copyright © 1996 - 2017 by Frank Brehm. All Rights Reserved.