Today in History: Southern Pacific completes “Sunset Route” in 1883

Today in History: Southern Pacific completes “Sunset Route” in 1883

135 years ago today, 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. A year earlier, the Big Four’s western-based Central Pacific had linked up with the eastern-based Union Pacific in Utah, creating the first transcontinental American railway. With that finished, the “Big Four” began to look for ways to increase their control over West Coast shipping, and decided to focus their efforts on extending the California-based Southern Pacific southward.

By 1877, the Southern Pacific controlled 85 percent of California’s railroad mileage. Huntington, who now dominated the company, saw an excellent opportunity to create a transcontinental line through the southern United States. Huntington had to act fast if was to beat the competition. The Texas and Pacific Railroad was already pushing westward toward the Pacific at a fast pace. Marshalling his awesome energy and financial resources, Huntington began driving his Southern Pacific line eastward. He won the race in 1881, when 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. He had taken considerable financial risks to build the Southern Pacific system, and he collected very considerable financial rewards. The Southern Pacific had a near monopoly over rail service to California, and Huntington and his associates took advantage of the situation by charging high shipping rates.

Termed “the Octopus” for its tentacled stranglehold on much of the California economy, the Southern Pacific inspired Californians to create some of the first strong public regulations over railroads in American history. But despite 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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Today in History: World’s largest railway station established in 1913

Today in History: World’s largest railway station established in 1913

105 years ago today, the world’s largest train station was inaugurated in New York City. It took 10 years to construct Grand Central Station, the gigantic, multi-level railway cathedral. The station quickly became one of the most famous buildings in New York. With some 500,000 visitors a day, Grand Central remains the city’s busiest building today. All long-distance transit is handled on the upper floor, regional traffic on the lower level. The train station is known for its huge waiting rooms and its excellent shopping. In 1978, the New York landmark only narrowly escaped demolition after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, after which it has been completely renovated.

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Today in History: Grand Canyon declared National Monument in 1908

Today in History: Grand Canyon declared National Monument in 1908

110 years ago today, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt declares the massive Grand Canyon in northwestern Arizona a national monument.

Though Native Americans lived in the area as early as the 13th century, the first European sighting of the canyon wasn’t until 1540, by members of an expedition headed by the Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. Because of its remote and inaccessible location, several centuries passed before North American settlers really explored the canyon. In 1869, geologist John Wesley Powell led a group of 10 men in the first difficult journey down the rapids of the Colorado River and along the length of the 277-mile gorge in four rowboats.

By the end of the 19th century, the Grand Canyon was attracting thousands of tourists each year. One famous visitor was President Theodore Roosevelt, a New Yorker with a particular affection for the American West.After becoming president in1901 after the assassination of President William McKinley, Roosevelt made environmental conservation a major part of his presidency. After establishing the National Wildlife Refuge to protect the country’s animals, fish and birds, Roosevelt turned his attention to federal regulation of public lands. Though a region could be given national park status–indicating that all private development on that land was illegal–only by an act of Congress, Roosevelt cut down on red tape by beginning a new presidential practice of granting a similar “national monument” designation to some of the West’s greatest treasures.

In January 1908, Roosevelt exercised this right to make more than 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon area into a national monument. “Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is,” he declared. “You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.”

Congress did not officially outlaw private development in the Grand Canyon until 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Grand Canyon National Park Act. Today, more than 5 million people visit the canyon each year. The canyon floor is accessible by foot, mule or boat, and whitewater rafting, hiking and running in the area are especially popular. Many choose to conserve their energies and simply take in the breathtaking view from the canyon’s South Rim–some 7,000 feet above sea level–and marvel at a vista virtually unchanged for over 400 years. Source: http://www.history.com.

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Today is Typewriter Day

Today is Typewriter Day

149 years ago today, on June 23, 1868, the patent for the typewriter was granted to American inventor Christopher Latham Sholes. While many people had been working on different prototypes of typewriters before 1868, Christopher Latham Sholes’ machine was the first one to be commercially marketed. Known as the Sholes and Glidden typewriter or the Remington 1 typewriter, the device could only type uppercase letters. Typewriters revolutionized the world of communications. Letters and correspondences looked more professional, followed a consistent format, and were more legible when typed out on a typewriter compared to handwritten communications that dominated the workplace in the past. In addition to creating an efficient and more organized workspace, the use of typewriters in businesses and governments worldwide meant that typing became a required skill for many jobs. A large percentage of these jobs were administrative in nature and were usually done by women, who were specifically hired for their typing skills – the typewriter played a very important role in opening up workspaces for women.

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Today in History: Yosemite Park was established in 1890

Today in History: Yosemite Park was established in 1890

126 years ago today, Yosemite National Park was established as a national park. The 1,500 square miles of park territory are home to such natural wonders as Yosemite Falls; rock formations Half Dome and El Capitain, the largest granite monolith in the United States; and the giant sequoia trees. In 1889, John Muir and his fellow environmentalists started campaigning for congressional action to protect the large wilderness area surrounding Yosemite Valley and on October 1, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed the legislation that created the third national park in the United States.

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Poster Auction in 2 weeks

POster form our May 7 Auction in San Francisco and live online

Poster Auction in 2 weeks
Our next vintage poster auction is only 2 weeks away. The May 7 catalog is online. Enjoy 437 lost of great posters at
http://tinyurl.com/gl2qad5 or http://tinyurl.com/zf6twru

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Today in History: World’s largest railway station established in 1913

103 years ago today, the world’s largest train station was inaugurated in New York City. It took 10 years to construct Grand Central Station, the gigantic, multi-level railway cathedral. The station quickly became one of the most famous buildings in New York. With some 500,000 visitors a day, Grand Central remains the city’s busiest building today. All long-distance transit is handled on the upper floor, regional traffic on the lower level. The train station is known for its huge waiting rooms and its excellent shopping. In 1978, the New York landmark only narrowly escaped demolition after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, after which it has been completely renovated.

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