“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
National Museum of Transportation near Kirkwood in St. Louis County, Missouri — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

The Pacific Railroad Controversy

The Pacific Railroad Controversy Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), April 22, 2019
1. The Pacific Railroad Controversy Marker
"As one intrusted with your interests, I felt that your rights had been disregarded, and I did not fail to express my convictions in pretty strong language, to which Mr. Garrison and his associates took great exceptions and have never forgiven me for the position I then assumed in regard to it, which has ever since been to them a cause of hostility toward me."
~Hudson E. Bridge, in an open letter to Pacific Railroad stockholders in 1869.

The road did finally make it from St. Louis to Kansas City. It was repaired, finished and running along its approximately 300-mile route to the western Missouri border as of September 1865, but the Civil War was not the end of the railroad's troubles.

In early 1868, three of the Pacific's trustees were appointed to lobby for legislation that would allow the Board to purchase the state's holdings in the railroad. Henry L. Patterson, George R. Taylor and Daniel R. Garrison made the journey to Jefferson City. In order to garner support for the Board's cause, the men bribed legislators and perhaps even the governor with money from the company's coffers.

The appointed
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committee and the majority of the board members had one quite scandalous motive in making this purchase — to cover up a scam from which most of them were benefiting. The outspoken minority dissenter, Hudson E. Bridge, brought it to light in a series of articles in The Missouri Democrat and in an open letter to the Pacific Railroad's stockholders. The scam was a "fast freight line" called the St. Louis & Pacific Express Company (or White Line), which Garrison and Patterson helped established in 1866. Unlike other fast freight lines it did not connect the Pacific to any other railroads, so did not profit the Pacific in any way. Rather, this "company" was designed solely to line the pockets of its stockholders, who included nearly everyone on the Pacific Railroad's Board of Directors.

In the end, Hudson E. Bridge purchased St. Louis County's stake in the Pacific in 1869. With a majority of holdings, he took control of the company. The White Line's contract was dissolved immediately. In what appears to be an admission of guilt, the ringleaders of the scam resigned from the Board. Nevertheless, the Pacific Railroad was plagued with economic hardships throughout the next decade.
Erected by Museum of Transportation.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Communications
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Government & PoliticsIndustry & CommerceRailroads & Streetcars. A significant historical month for this entry is September 1865.
Location. 38° 34.329′ N, 90° 27.636′ W. Marker is near Kirkwood, Missouri, in St. Louis County. It is in National Museum of Transportation. Marker can be reached from Barrett Station Road east of Old Dougherty Ferry Road, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3015 Barrett Station Road, Saint Louis MO 63122, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Civil War Destruction (here, next to this marker); Riot in the Tunnels (here, next to this marker); #2804 (here, next to this marker); The Gasconade Bridge Disaster (here, next to this marker); Ground-breaking! (a few steps from this marker); #750 (a few steps from this marker); The Pacific Railroad of Missouri: Audacious Dreams & Harsh Realities (a few steps from this marker); The Missouri Pacific Today... (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Kirkwood.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 11, 2023. It was originally submitted on April 28, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 117 times since then and 14 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on April 28, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Sep. 22, 2023