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The Railroad Celebration.


November/December 1861

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, November 6, 1861.


The Connection of the Pacific, Iron Mountain and North Missouri Railroads.

The project of uniting the three railroads centering in this city, by a road along the entire length of the levee, had been talked about for several years, but it has been deferred from time to time in deference to this or that interest with which it seemed to conflict. So, freight passing from one depot to another had to be drayed from one to four miles. This, as may be easily comprehended, might answer for peace times, but would be fully adapted to the necessities and exigencies attending a state of hostilities, wherein vast quantities of freight would have to be moved in a very short time, and in the successful accomplishment of which might hang the fate of the campaign.

Gen. Fremont, with his quick and accurate perception, at once comprehended the necessity of the connecting link, and accordingly ordered its construction as a military necessity. That order has been executed. The levee railroad is completed, the North Missouri, Pacific and Iron Mountain lines are connected, and yesterday the Presidents and Superintendents of these roads celebrated the event by giving a ride of five to ten miles, over each of the roads, to the ladies and gentlemen of St. Louis.

The day was superb, and the occasion passed off most happily. The place for starting was the foot of Chesnut street-time, ten o’clock A. M. Half an hour before the time of starting quite a company had gathered at the appointed place, and rapid additions were made through all the streets leading thereto, so that by the hour of starting the levee was literally crowded for several squares up and down. Among them were to be found the most substantial citizens, merchants, mechanics, bankers, railroad men, members of the press and other professions, and the military. Among the latter were General Curtis and General Strong. The ladies, too, were well represented, causing the levee to present an appearance of festal gayety quite unwonted. The occasion was further enlivened by the most excellent music discoursed by Frank Boehm’s fine band.

In due time a train of cars backed down from the North Missouri depot, which was quickly filled, mostly by ladies. Then a train with two locomotives from the Pacific, came up; and finally the Iron Mountain sent up another train, and after whistling the appropriate salutes, these ponderous delegations or representatives, joined their iron hands in token of mutual friendship and united interests. The train thus formed consisted of nineteen cars and four locomotives; the whole being under the control of Captain Castle, the able and efficient superintendent of the work. The Captain had some trouble in comfortably placing his throng of guests, but the task was at last successfully accomplished, and when all was ready the train moved up the North Missouri road. The locomotives were gaily decked with the stars and stripes, and all went merry as a marriage bell.

The train proceeded slowly up the road as far as Bellefontaine Cemetery; thus affording a fine view of the splendid suburban residences that nestle among the groves on this line of road. After a short pause the train returned to the point of starting, and then proceeded down the Iron Mountain road to Jefferson Barracks, where it was received with a salute of thirty-four guns, from a battery of artillery, under the management of Major Lothrop, of the Missouri First. The company disembarked, and spent an hour or two very pleasantly in rambling over the hills, and in examining the buildings and grounds about the Barracks. There are few pleasanter places in or about St. Louis than Jefferson Barracks, and we cordially recommend its quiet, its cleanliness, and its soft carpet of green grass, to those who are tired of the noise, and dust, and stone pavements of the city. The Major also added much to the interest of the occasion, by target practice with shot and shell, which was new and instructive to many.

At length the warning note of “all aboard” rang out, and we started on the return trip, the Major giving us a parting salute from his battery. At the docks the train again came to a halt, and there was a hurried visit to the gun boats. These “monsters of the deep” are now all in their native element, and hundreds of hands are moulding them into shape as fast as possible. But soon the bell rings; we hustle to our places, and off we go to the Iron Mountain depot, where we glide around the grand horse shoe curve that brings us into Poplar street, and on the Pacific road. Up this street was a continued ovation. Men, women and children rushed to the doors, and windows and sidewalks, and there was a general shouting and cheering and waving of handkerchiefs. At the Pacific depot there was a short delay. But once more under way, we passed out to near Cheltenham, and then back to the depot, where we arrived after sunset.

Here the ride ended and the company dispersed, many of them tired, and all of them hungry, yet each one pleased with the excursion, and with those who got it up.

Particular mention should be made of Superintendents Gamble, of the North Missouri, McKissock, of the Pacific, and Felps, of the Iron Mountain, who did all they could to make the occasion a happy one for all who participated in it.

Frank Boehm’s band enlivened the whole ride with stirring, patriotic music, and the labor on their part was generously given to the occasion. It belongs to Col. Almstedt’s First Missouri Heavy Artillery, and has been organized but a short time. The ladies presented its leader with a splendid silk sash last Saturday, at the Library Hall.

Thus ends the ride and the celebration; but the advantages to be derived from the connection of these roads will be perpetual. May it stand for years, a convenience to the world of trade, and a monument to the shrewd, business forethought of Major General John C. Fremont.