Central Pacific Railroad Across Nevada, 1868 & 1997  Photographic Comparatives

108 comparative photographs of the Central Pacific Railroad as its construction progressed across Nevada, circa 1868 by Alfred A. Hart and 1997 by Lawrence K. Hersh



Left Photo, Copyright © 1998 Lawrence K. Hersh /Right Photo, Courtesy Stanford University Special Collections

Copyright © 1998-2000 by Lawrence K. Hersh
ISBN: 0-9677880-0-5
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 99-85908



Photo Courtesy Stanford University Special Collections
Photo number 281, "Reno and Washoe Range in distance, from base of Sierra Nevada Mountains."
circa 1868, was taken in the late afternoon as seen by the shadows cast from the grade. Loads of fill
material were used in this area, as well as other areas, to keep the grade percentage fairly consistent.
In the background is the town of Reno, Nevada, which was named in honor of Civil War Major General
Jesse Lee Reno, on April 1, 1868, by Joseph M. Graham, of the CPRR. [p. 12.]
 


Copyright © 1998 Lawrence K. Hersh
Photo number 97281, was taken in July of 1997, from just below the "Cross" on the hill west of the
downtown area, off of Fourth Street. This is quite a comparative view, showing how fast the city has
grown in the last 128 years. Had the fence not been an obstacle, I would have shot this photo a little
higher up on the hillside. But, I then realized I could not. The fence would have been visible in the photo.
The river is now nestled within the trees. [p. 13.]



 


Photo Courtesy Stanford University Special Collections
Photo number 304,  circa 1868, "Looking West from Red Bluffs, Lower Canyon of Truckee River," is in
my opinion one of Alfred Hart's most prized photos. This view to the west from the rock tops is
spectacular, encompassing not only the railroad, but also the sweeping "S" curve of the river. The view
also includes the land protrusion into the river. Again Hart's photo wagon is visible. [p. 46.]
 


Copyright © 1998 Lawrence K. Hersh
Photo number 97304, taken in July of 1997, somewhat of proximity to number 304, is a view  to the
west. Today the same rock outcroppings as in number 304 can be seen in the foreground. The
railroad has been realigned south of I-80 and old US-highway 40 that replaced  the original railroad
grade, is gone. The only reminder of the original river course, now still water, is supplied by a small
amount of flow, under the Interstate and track. [p. 47.]



 


Photo Courtesy Stanford University Special Collections
Photo number 316, "End of Track, near Humboldt Lake," circa 1868, is an excellent view to the
southwest, showing a construction train stopped, headed eastbound, with lots of tents in the foreground.
These tents were probably occupied by Chinese, whose contribution to the construction of this railroad
made the Transcontinental Railroad a reality. The railroad grade parallels the west side of Humboldt
Lake. [p. 60.]
 


Copyright © 1998 Lawrence K. Hersh
Photo number 97316, taken in May of 1997, shows the general spot Alfred A. Hart photographed in
1868, from atop the sand hill on the east side of the railroad grade. This is one of my favorite photo
sites. I can spend hours exploring this area, thinking only of going back in time, while standing on top
of the sand hill. It appears as if the freight trail can still be seen in today's photo, as well as in number
316, foreground of photo. [p. 61.]



Dr. Goldbaum “The video below contains morphing animations of five of the then-and-now photograph pairs in the book. (Video by Howard Goldbaum, University of Nevada.)”



Here's a link to Howard Goldbaum's book,  Waiting For The Cars




About the Book:
How many times have you imagined what a specific area once looked like, in regards to, perhaps one hundred and thirty years ago?  Specifically I wondered about the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad as it progressed across Nevada, circa 1868-1869.  Selected photographs of Alfred A. Hart — those which captured the events of the period — can be seen in this book, with astonishing details. I have spent the last three and a half years travelling across Nevada, during my vacation periods, to recreate the original photo locations of Hart's, with great success.  My photographic excursions included disheartening setbacks, leaving me at times inclined to abandon the entire effort. Miles from the nearest town once a gust of wind up and blew my tripod over, ruining the telephoto lens.  But, with what little faith I had left, I continued this project until its final completion.

The expression "A picture is worth a thousand words," still applies.  I can recall the feelings that overwhelmed me when I found myself at the same if not the exact spot of Alfred A. Hart, liken to a euphoric state of mind, something that happens to a few during their lifetime.  Thanks to a Higher Power, I am one of the fortunates.  Hiking along the abandoned railroad grade, across Nevada, opened new opportunities; viewing artifacts in place, sometimes next to the grade or several feet away, gave me enough encouragement to venture to the next photo location.  The memories of a thunderstorm, the smell of desert sage, horses and cattle on the range and the many friendly people along the way, still linger close to my heart.  Perhaps this book will bring enjoyment to the many who cannot venture to these areas.



This hardboard book with dust jacket retails for $39.95 + $4.00 shipping and can be ordered by sending a check or money order in the amount of $43.95 ($39.95 + $4.00 shipping, media rate, US only) Signature and date included. Lawrence K. Hersh, P.O. Box 1916, Fernley, Nevada 89408-1916. Note: Please add your county's sales tax to the total price, which is book plus shipping costs. These are the costs taxed. Nevada residents, your sales tax varies from county to county. The current state sales tax rates per counties are as follows:

Churchill, Nye and Storey, 7.600%
Clark, 8.100%
Carson, 7.475%
Douglas, Lander, Lincoln, Lyon, and Pershing, 7.100%
Elko, Esmeralda, Eureka, Humboldt and Mineral, 6.850%
Washoe and White Pine, 7.725%

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Research Photos CLICK ON PHOTO FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.

About the Author:
 
Lawrence "Larry" Hersh, has been in Southern California for the past  54 years, growing up in the San Fernando Valley area, enjoying model railroading ever since.  His employment as a Communications Electrician has been very rewarding allowing him to construct G, HO, and O gauge layouts.

As a member of Los Angeles Live Steamers, Larry and other club members, spent many years developing the signaling and electric switch system which still exists today at LALS, at the time of this printing.

Larry is a member of the following organizations: Nevada Historical Society, Reno, Nevada;  Nevada State Museum, Carson City, Nevada;  Friends of the Nevada State Railroad Museum, Carson City, Nevada;  Northeastern Nevada Historical Society, Elko, Nevada;  California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento, California; Sparks Heritage Museum, Sparks, Nevada;  Los Angeles Live Steamers, Los Angeles, California.

I hope this book will bring enjoyment to your reading experience.

Lawrence K. Hersh, December 3, 1999
 

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