Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hell on Wheels Handbook - Durant's $5 Million Stock Scheme

In 1863, President Lincoln declared that the eastern terminus of the Union Pacific railroad would be Council Bluffs, Iowa. Thomas C. Durant, vice president of the Union Pacific, had other ideas in mind.
Against the President's orders, Durant instructed his engineer Peter Dey to start the rail line in Omaha, Nebraska, across the river from Council Bluffs. Dey presented him with several route options, only for Durant to shift the terminus again to De Soto, which lay 20 miles north of both Omaha and Council Bluffs. "It is difficult to make surveys without forming some idea of what you are doing and what it is for," a bewildered Dey wired to Durant. It turns out Durant's decisions may have been motivated not by pragmatics, but by a highly profitable stock scheme. Continued

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