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Southern Pacific is a monument to the enterprise and vision of Leland Stanford, Collis P. These Sacramento merchants, famed in later years as the "Big Four," became impressed with plans for a railroad east over the Sierra as conceived by Theodore D. Typical of the courage and daring that characterized the successful exploits of many western pioneers, the four associates launched the project, unmatched in all the story of rail transportation, without any one of them ever having been remotely connected with a construction project of greater magnitude than the erection of their own store buildings.

Crocker became one of the directors and was later general superintendent of construction.After passage of the bill, Huntington wired his associates: "We have drawn the elephant, now let us see if we can harness him." In granting this aid to the Central Pacific and Union Pacific, Congress followed a federal policy already established, and one extended to several other railroads built before and after the Pacific Railroad was authorized.The financial aid was not a donation, but was in the form of United States 6% bonds which were a lien against the railroad property, with repayment to be made in thirty years.Its completion gave birth to a new era, and the expansion of its western lines is evidenced today in the far-flung properties of the Southern Pacific Company.Pioneer of transcontinental railroads, Southern Pacific had its origin in the Central Pacific Rail Road Company of California, incorporated June 28, 1861, to build the western portion of the Pacific Railroad.

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To an unknown editor in the little village of Ann Arbor, Michigan, belongs the credit for making in 1832 the first suggestion for a railroad that would span the continent from the Great Lakes to the Pacific.