From the river to the sea The untold story of the railroad war that made the West

John Sedgwick, 1954-

Book - 2021

John Sedgwick recounts the decade-long fight between General William J. Palmer, the Civil War hero leading the "little family" of his Rio Grande, coming down from Denver, hoping to showcase the majesty of the Rockies, and William Barstow Strong, the hard-nosed manager of the corporate-minded Santa Fe, venturing west from Kansas. What begins as an accidental rivalry when the two lines cross in Colorado soon evolves into an all-out battle as each man tries to outdo the other--claiming ex...clusive routes through mountains, narrow passes, and the richest silver mines in the world; enlisting private armies to protect their land and lawyers to find loopholes; dispatching spies to gain information; and even using the power of the press and incurring the wrath of the God-like Robber Baron Jay Gould--to emerge victorious. By the end of the century, one man will fade into anonymity and disgrace. The other will achieve unparalleled success--and in the process, transform a sleepy backwater of thirty thousand called "Los Angeles" into a booming metropolis that will forever change the United States.

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Subjects
Genres
Creative nonfiction
Published
New York : Avid Reader Press 2021.
Edition
First Avid Reader Press hardcover edition
Language
English
Item Description
Maps on endpapers.
Physical Description
viii, 339 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 313-324) and index.
ISBN
9781982104283
1982104287
Main Author
John Sedgwick, 1954- (author)
  • Prologue: A tale of two cities
  • Introduction: A very personal war
  • The Raton Pass.
  • On the train to El Moro ;
  • The wild west ;
  • Beware the prairie lilies ;
  • The grid ;
  • Where to go ;
  • Seeking Uncle Dick ;
  • Santa Fe, Inc. ;
  • Enter the queen ;
  • The battle is joined
  • The Royal Gorge.
  • Precious metals ;
  • "A game of bluff" ;
  • Haw ;
  • The dead-line ;
  • This means war ;
  • Bad men ;
  • Gould ;
  • A whiskey salute ;
  • Harvey houses
  • Los Angeles.
  • The pueblo ;
  • The big four ;
  • "A terrible, single-handed talker" ;
  • Guaymas ;
  • "This is hard" ;
  • The A&P ;
  • The end of the line ;
  • Ightham mote ;
  • California for a dollar ;
  • Boom! ;
  • Home
  • Epilogue: The frontier thesis.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

In 1869, America's first transcontinental railroad joined East and West but left plenty of land to be conquered by the clickety-clack of trains. Aided by federal grants, two daring railway men launched the Rio Grande and Santa Fe railways, which led to virtual warfare involving mercenaries and local militia. From the author of Blood Moon; with a 100,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Novelist and historian Sedgwick (Blood Moon) delivers a dense yet colorful history of the "frenzied competition" between two railroad tycoons to lay tracks between Colorado and the Pacific Ocean. Sedgwick casts Rio Grande railway owner Gen. William Palmer, a "certified Civil War hero" who built a castle in Colorado Springs to lure his 19-year-old bride west, and William Barstow Strong, the business-minded president of the much-larger Santa Fe railroad, as polar opposites. Yet Strong's 1877 offer to lease 30% of Palmer's railroad set off an epic clash that united the two men in a single-minded drive to outdo the other. Sedgwick chronicles their race to lay claim to routes between Colorado and southern California in scrupulous detail, documenting press campaigns, courtroom showdowns, and standoffs between the private armies of both railroads. According to Sedgwick, the struggle between Palmer and Strong was crucial to the development of southwestern cities including Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and transformed L.A. from a "sun-splashed Spanish pueblo... to a bustling city." Though generalists may have a tough time keeping track of all the technical details, railroad buffs will be riveted. (June) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

The history of the greatest railroad war of all time, fought by the railway men behind the Santa Fe and Rio Grande railways as they raced to lay claim to the most profitable territory and silver mines. 100,000 first printing. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The history of the greatest railroad war of all time, fought by the railway men behind the Santa Fe and Rio Grande railways as they raced to lay claim to the most profitable territory and silver mines.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

“Riveting...A great read, full of colorful characters and outrageous confrontations back when the west was still wild.” —George R.R. MartinA propulsive and panoramic history of one of the most dramatic stories never told—the greatest railroad war of all time, fought by the daring leaders of the Santa Fe and the Rio Grande to seize, control, and create the American West.It is difficult to imagine now, but for all its gorgeous scenery, the American West might have been barren tundra as far as most Americans knew well into the 19th century. While the West was advertised as a paradise on earth to citizens in the East and Midwest, many believed the journey too hazardous to be worthwhile—until 1869, when the first transcontinental railroad changed the face of transportation.Railroad companies soon became the rulers of western expansion, choosing routes, creating brand-new railroad towns, and building up remote settlements like Santa Fe, Albuquerque, San Diego, and El Paso into proper cities. But thinning federal grants left the routes incomplete, an opportunity that two brash new railroad men, armed with private investments and determination to build an empire across the Southwest clear to the Pacific, soon seized, leading to the greatest railroad war in American history.In From the River to the Sea, bestselling author John Sedgwick recounts, in vivid and thrilling detail, the decade-long fight between General William J. Palmer, the Civil War hero leading the “little family” of his Rio Grande, and William Barstow Strong, the hard-nosed manager of the corporate-minded Santa Fe. What begins as an accidental rivalry when the two lines cross in Colorado soon evolves into an all-out battle as each man tries to outdo the other—claiming exclusive routes through mountains, narrow passes, and the richest silver mines in the world; enlisting private armies to protect their land and lawyers to find loopholes; dispatching spies to gain information; and even using the power of the press and incurring the wrath of the God-like Robber Baron Jay Gould—to emerge victorious. By the end of the century, one man will fade into anonymity and disgrace. The other will achieve unparalleled success—and in the process, transform a sleepy backwater of thirty thousand called “Los Angeles” into a booming metropolis that will forever change the United States.Filled with colorful characters and high drama, told at the speed of a locomotive, From the River to the Sea is an unforgettable piece of American history “that seems to demand a big-screen treatment” (The New Yorker).

Review by Publisher Summary 4

A sweeping and lively history of one of the most dramatic stories never told'of the greatest railroad war of all time, fought by the daring leaders of the Santa Fe and the Rio Grande to seize, control, and create the American West. It is difficult to imagine now, but for all of its cloudy peaks and gorgeous coastline, the American West might have been barren tundra as far as most Americans knew well into the 19th century. While gauzy advertising promotions of the West as a paradise on earth intrigued citizens in the East and Midwest, many believed the journey too hazardous to be worthwhile'until 1869, when the first transcontinental railroad changed the face of transportation.Railroad companies soon became the rulers of western expansion, choosing routes, creating brand-new railroad towns, and building up remote settlements like Santa Fe, Albuquerque, San Diego, and El Paso into proper cities. But thinning federal grants left the routes incomplete, an opportunity that two brash new railroad men, armed with private investments and determination to build an empire across the Southwest clear to the Pacific, soon seized, leading to the greatest railroad war in American history.In From the River to the Sea, bestselling author John Sedgwick recounts, in vivid and thrilling detail, the decade-long fight between General William J. Palmer, the Civil War hero leading the 'little family' of his Rio Grande, coming down from Denver, hoping to showcase the majesty of the Rockies, and William Barstow Strong, the hard-nosed manager of the corporate-minded Santa Fe, venturing west from Kansas. What begins as an accidental rivalry when the two lines cross in Colorado soon evolves into an all-out battle as each man tries to outdo the other'claiming exclusive routes through mountains, narrow passes, and the richest silver mines in the world; enlisting private armies to protect their land and lawyers to find loopholes; dispatching spies to gain information; and even using the power of the press and incurring the wrath of the God-like Robber Baron Jay Gould'to emerge victorious. By the end of the century, one man will fade into anonymity and disgrace. The other will achieve unparalleled success'and in the process, transform a sleepy backwater of thirty thousand called 'Los Angeles' into a booming metropolis that will forever change the United States. Filled with colorful characters and high drama, told at the speed of a locomotive, From the River to the Sea is an unforgettable piece of American history'and one of the last great untold tales of the Wild West.