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Sunset Limited The Southern Pacific Railroad and the Development of the American West, 1850-1930

ISBN-10: 0520251644
ISBN-13: 9780520251649
Edition: 2007
Authors: Richard J. Orsi
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Description: The only major U.S. railroad to be operated by westerners and the only railroad built from west to east, the Southern Pacific acquired a unique history and character. It also acquired a reputation, especially in California, as a railroad that people  More...

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Book details

List price: $29.95
Copyright year: 2007
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 2/6/2007
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 638
Size: 6.00" wide x 8.75" long x 1.75" tall
Weight: 2.068
Language: English

The only major U.S. railroad to be operated by westerners and the only railroad built from west to east, the Southern Pacific acquired a unique history and character. It also acquired a reputation, especially in California, as a railroad that people loved to hate. This magisterial history tells the full story of the Southern Pacific for the first time, shattering myths about the company that have prevailed to this day. A landmark account, Sunset Limited explores the railroad's development and influence--especially as it affected land settlement, agriculture, water policy, and the environment--and offers a new perspective on the tremendous, often surprising, role the company played in shaping the American West. Based on his unprecedented and extensive research into the company's historical archives, Richard Orsi finds that, contrary to conventional understanding, the Southern Pacific Company identified its corporate well-being with population growth and social and economic development in the railroad's hinterland. As he traces the complex and shifting intersections between corporate and public interest, Orsi documents the railroad's little-known promotion of land distribution, small-scale farming, scientific agriculture, and less wasteful environmental practices and policies--including water conservation and wilderness and recreational parklands preservation. Meticulously researched, lucidly written, and judiciously balanced, Sunset Limited opens a new window onto the American West in a crucial phase of its development and will forever change our perceptions of one of the largest and most important western corporations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Foundations
"These Mountains Look Too Ugly and I See Too Much Work Ahead": Building the Southern Pacific Company, 1850-1930
Men of Vision: Southern Pacific Leaders, Land, Agriculture, and the Development of California and the West
Land Settlement
"Stand on the Rights of the Company and Make a Square Fight of It": Land-Grant Myths, Conflicts with the Government, and Squatterism
The Mussel Slough Affair
A Land of "Well-tilled Little Farms": Land-Grant Development
Promoting the Far West
Water
"The Satisfactory Supply Is Yet Undiscovered": The Southern Pacific as a Pioneer Water Developer
"A Great Encouragement for Others": Private Irrigation
"This Splendid Country Is to Be Reclaimed": Public Irrigation
"The Government Is Hard to Deal With": Federal Reclamation
Agriculture
"Evangel Train": Scientific Agriculture
"The Damndest Railroading You Ever Heard Of": Marketing the Produce of Western Farms
Conservation
"Shall This Destruction Proceed?": Wilderness Preservation
"Putting Our Properties on the Most Conservative and Scientific Basis": Resource Conservation
Epilogue
A Note on Manuscript Sources
Notes
Index

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