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But his proposal was branded by many as fantastic or a vicious money-grabbing scheme.

He failed to impress men with money to invest until he got the attention of the Sacramento merchants.

Others followed, some of them having a short route to the rich Orient as the primary objective rather than being aimed at the development of the West.

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He was the first advocate of the Pacific Railroad who had practical railroad engineering knowledge to add to sincere enthusiasm.

He took his plan to Congress on several occasions, made preliminary surveys over various routes through the Sierra, and had received a small amount of financial support from residents in the mountain towns.

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.

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.

Construction began at Sacramento in 1863 following authorization by Congress in 1862.

The original unit of the transportation system that today comprises more than 15,000 miles of rail lines in this country and Mexico, was built from Sacramento 690 miles over the Sierra Nevada Mountains and across Nevada to meet the Union Pacific at Promontory, Utah, where the Last Spike was driven on May 10, 1869.

The arduous overland journey across the plains by oxen or mules, and the long ocean voyage via Panama or around Cape Horn, brought to the early settlers a realization of their isolation from the remainder of the country.

A growing sentiment in the West and East favored a railroad that would bind the nation closer together.

It was vital that California and the Pacific Coast be bound to the Union, consequently the Pacific Railroad became a military necessity.

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