Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What were the trains carrying back in the day?

Here's another tidbit from Rick. I can see why trains were targets for outlaws.

This excerpt is from The History of Linn County Iowa by Luther Brewer and Barthinius Wick

After the completion of the railroad, Mr. Reiner was given a position as ex-
press messenger on one of the trains. "Many times," said the veteran express
messenger, "I have literally had the car floor paved with gold and silver, over
which I walked in doing my work. We had carried lots of gold and silver bars
east from Virginia City, in Nevada. In order that the weight should be evenly
distributed the bars were spread like paving bricks all over the car floor. The
following description, written by a reporter from one of the Council Bluffs
papers while Mr. Reiner was yet at Boone, gives a description of the work! of
carrying the bullion :

"While viewing the scenes at the transfer yesterday afternoon, we boarded
W. F. Reiner's Northwestern express car and beheld a scene that caused our bump
of inquisitiveness to jump. Mr. Reiner is a messenger of the American Merchants
Union Express company, and will have served in his present position and on his
present route seven years in November next. He lives in Boone. On the floor
of his car were sixty-seven gold and silver bricks. That is, each brick was com-
posed of gold and silver in compound. In some of them, silver predominated —
in value. They resemble silver almost entirely in color. They are of somewhat
irregular sizes, though nearly every one of them weighs more than one hundred
pounds. Some of them were much more refined than the others. The amount
of gold and silver in each one is stamped on the face or top, in different lines, and
the total value of the brick is added in a third line. The value of each metal is
marked, even to a cent. How those values can be so accurately determined in a
compound brick is beyond our knowledge.

 Fifty-seven of those bricks which we yesterday saw, were worth $101,950.80. The remaining eleven were worth $15,077.57. They were mostly from Virginia City and are being taken to New York. Mr. Reiner informed us also that these bricks are carried only by the Northwestern and Rock Island roads. On some days he has had as many as 160 of them in his car. They are taken east nearly every day."

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