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NeuroFizz
01-11-2006, 11:33 PM
Anyone have any idea of how long it took to travel (by train) from Chicago to Southern California in the 1870's. I come up with three or four weeks in the 1850's, and around a week or so in the 1870's, but I'm not 100% sure of the sources. Any information would be greatly appreciated. It's for an historical novel.

underthecity
01-11-2006, 11:50 PM
NeuroFizz,

I don't know the answer, but I know someone who will. His name is Jack White, a railroad historian and author of numerous books on railroad history during the 1800s. You can see one of his books here (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0801852366/). He has many more.

I have his email if you'd like it. I'm sure he would know the answer.

allen

Scribhneoir
01-11-2006, 11:53 PM
A good resource for those sorts of questions is the Central Pacific Railroad historical site at http://cprr.org/Museum/index.html

That site has tons of information and lots of links, including links to actual schedules of the time so you can find out the exact route, stops, travel times and fares.

blacbird
01-12-2006, 12:06 AM
Anyone have any idea of how long it took to travel (by train) from Chicago to Southern California in the 1870's. I come up with three or four weeks in the 1850's, and around a week or so in the 1870's, but I'm not 100% sure of the sources. Any information would be greatly appreciated. It's for an historical novel.

You couldn't travel strictly by train to the west coast in the 1850s. The transcontinental railroad wasn't completed until 1869. I'd hazard that your time frame for the 1870s is about correct.

caw.

NeuroFizz
01-12-2006, 01:03 AM
Thanks Allen, Scrib, and Blacbird. Alan, I'd love to have the e-mail address. Please PM me. This place is absolutely great and I thank you all for the quick responses.

Cheers, Rich

Peggy
01-12-2006, 06:21 AM
Where in SoCal is your character heading? I believe that the railroad did not reach Los Angeles until 1876. Prior to that, there probably would have been some other form of transportation (stagecoach?) over the mountains.

The railroad to Bakersfield (north of the mountains), was competed several years earlier, so it would have been directly accessible by train.

This page has a sample 1876 timetable for LA to San Francisco (almost 12 hours on the express train).
http://www.homesteadmuseum.org/jtt/1870s%20train.pdf

You might also want to check out the 1873 book California: for health, pleasure, and residence.: A book for travellers and settlers. (http://name.umdl.umich.edu/aba5511.0001.001) By Charles Nordhoff.

Peggy
01-12-2006, 06:32 AM
I meant to add that Nordhoff (p.20) says that travel from New York to San Francisco was 7 days, if done without stopping, but that people typically stopped for 2 days in Chicago and 1 day in Salt Lake City. The entire first chapter is an interesting description of what the rail journey was like.