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North America » United States » California » Auburn
November 3rd 2019
Published: November 3rd 2019
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BLOOMER'S CUTBLOOMER'S CUTBLOOMER'S CUT

The cut remains to this day just as the Chinamen built it. It ought to be preserved as a National Historic Site but the railroad wants to widen it with a second line, and developers want to build a bridge across it so they can put in yet more homes. .
THE BLOOMER CUT

The country badly needed a transcontinental railroad to connect far flung California to the rest of the country. As usual Congress could no nothing but bicker over the route. Southerners preferred a route from New Orleans across Texas and New Mexico and on to Southern California. The Gadsden Purchase enabled that route, but the Northerners objected to it because it might lead to the expansion of slavery. The Northerners favored a route from Omaha up the Platte River, across the snow choked Rocky Mountains, and the desert, and then across the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It was a far more perilous route, but it was the route selected by Congress after the southern states seceded from the union. Both routes had already been established for mail and passenger service by stage coach. The Pony Express offered fast mail delivery and used the northern route because it was much shorter. Construction of the railroad was authorized by Congress on July 1, 1862. It consisted of two rail lines. The Union Pacific was to build west from Omaha, and the Central Pacific was to build east from Sacramento. It would have made more sense for the Central Pacific to build
BLOOMER'S SIGNBLOOMER'S SIGNBLOOMER'S SIGN

This sign was put in at the trailhead leading to the cut. The trail is only about a quarter mile long. To reach it from Racetrack Park go out the Auburn-Folsom Road to the second stoplight and turn right. Follow the street through a residential area until it dead ends at a board barrier. The sign is on the other side of it. The trail to the cut proceeds from the sign.
east from San Francisco where there were already port facilities, but no investors in such an outlandish proposal could be found there. All of the construction materials to build a railroad had to come by ship around the southern tip of South America. All of the rails, the spikes, the hammers, the locomotive parts and the sawmill equipment had to then be shipped to new port facilities in Sacramento and a new railyard had to be built there. It was an insanely expensive proposition. On January 8, 1863 construction of the railyard began in Sacramento. By late February of 1864 tracks had reached the Bloomer Ranch near Auburn. The appropriation bill passed by Congress did not authorize construction subsidies to begin until 30 miles of track had been laid. The Bloomer Ranch was three miles short of reaching the subsidy threshold. The Central Pacific was broke, the stock was worthless and had been mortgaged to the hilt, and the investors were broke. The entire project was on the verge of financial collapse and forward progress on construction was stalled at a place that came to be called the Bloomer Cut. It was a stretch of about a thousand feet of tough, well-indurated, and tightly bound conglomerate that was extremely difficult to move and it had to reach a depth of 62 feet. The labor contractors balked at the struggle because they knew full well that the Central Pacific could no longer pay them. The workers all left and were replaced by Chinese who were willing to work for subsistence only. By the end of May, 1864 the Chinese were able to punch through the cut and reach the 30 mile requirement. The federal subsidy saved the railroad. Some folks later came to regard the Bloomer Cut as the 8th Wonder of the World, but actually the cut was just the beginning of it. It finally extended clear to Omaha. Those hard working Chinamen who performed the back breaking labor that the entire country so greatly benefitted from never were paid beyond the subsistence level. We owe them at least a debt of gratitude.

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