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Today in History: Southern Pacific completes “Sunset Route” in 1883
On this day in 1883, Southern Pacific Railroad completed its transcontinental “Sunset Route” from New Orleans to California, consolidating its dominance over rail traffic to the Pacific.
One of the most powerful railroad companies of the 19th century, the “Espee” (as the railroad was often called) originated in an ambitious plan conceived in 1870 by the “Big Four” western railroad barons: Collis P. Huntington, Charles Crocker, Leland Stanford, and Mark Hopkins. By 1877, Southern Pacific controlled 85 percent of California’s railroad mileage. Marshalling awesome energy and financial resources, Huntington began driving his Southern Pacific line eastward. In 1881, he linked the Southern Pacific to the Santa Fe Railroad at Deming, New Mexico, creating the second American transcontinental railway. Two years later, on February 5, 1883, Huntington gained full control of a number of smaller railroads, creating the Southern Pacific’s “Sunset Route” from New Orleans to California. With the “Sunset Route,” Huntington confirmed his domination over California rails. Ddespite the anger and outrage Huntington’s exploitation inspired, few would deny that the mighty Southern Pacific Railroad played an essential role in fostering the growth of a vibrant California economy for decades to come. Source: www.history.com.
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