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highest peaks, are to be "cribbed, cabined, and confined" and forced to furnish electric power for pulling Harriman's freight-trains up and over the mountain passes.
At the start a third rail electric system is to be put in over about eighty miles of the road. A huge power house is to be built on the California side of the pass, where a practically unlimited supply of water is always available. Once the. enormous initial expense of building the power plant and equipping the road is out of the way, electric motors will take the place of steam locomotives, in the trip over the mountains, at a great saving in cost and time. It will no longer be necessary to make up short and light trains. The roaring mountain streams will furnish plenty of power to pull the heaviest freight trains over the mountains at a rate of speed impossible heretofore.
The great initial cost does not daunt Mr. Harriman, who has shown, in the building of the Lucien cut-off across Salt Lake and in other similar enterprises, an apparent disregard of first cost, so long as a permanent saving in running expense and in running time is in sight. His engineers have been at work for months. They have made all the necessary surveys and have fixed the location of the power-house and of the dam which is to gather the necessary water supply.
At the present time several of the largest electric corporations in the country are figuring on the contract for building the power plant and installing the road, and it is expected that the active work of construction will begin when the snow goes out in the spring.
True to the policy of secretiveness, which has made him famous among great railroad men, Harriman has instructed his lieutenants to give out no details of the plan for electrifying the Sierra Nevadas. “All announcements at the present time, are unauthorized and premature," writes one of the engineers, but, even before this article is printed, the contract may be let.
In putting in this third rail system, as in adopting all-steel passenger cars for the same road, Mr. Harriman shows his determination to put the Southern Pa
cific ahead of its transcontinental rivals, at anycost. Up to the north of him sits James J. Hill, the gray old master of the Northern Pacific and the Great Northern, and the only railroad man, up to the present time, who has successfully met and defeated Harriman in a great fight for a big stake. It is against Hill and the Hill domination of the Northwest that Harriman's present strategy seems chiefly directed, though, out of the struggle be
ENGINEERS CLIMBING A SLOPE IN MID-WINTER. tween the two Titans is certain to come cheaper, faster and the arguments for the substitution of better transportation for both passen- electricity for steam are quite as strong, gers and freight across the continent. for, in climbing steep grades, a large
If the Harriman innovation is as suc- amount of the steam power must be cessful as his engineers predict, it is cer- wasted in hauling up the fuel necessary tain that other railroads running over the for its production. With electricity, on mountains will be forced to follow his the other hand, almost unlimited power example. Already many roads have is available at all points on the line. adopted electricity as a motive power on Furthermore, there is small chance of a their city terminals and on short train drawn by an electric engine "stickbranches, running through thickly popu- ing” on an especially sharp grade, for the lated sections. In mountainous regions temporary "overload capacity” of the
motor can always be called on to meet a sudden emergency.
Harriman is today the greatest single figure in the railroad world and one of the most interestingbecause the most mysterious—men in the public eye. A slight, short little man, with sloping shoulders and a heavy, drooping black moustache, he is the undisputed master of more miles of railroad than were ever before under individual control. It is said that Harriman, personally, does not own more
ward H. Harriman is entirely a Wall street product. As soon as he was old enough to go to work he went into the office of a Wall street broker and he has lived his whole adult life in the atmosphere of the street. At a comparatively early age he was able, with the help of influential family connections, to establish a brokerage business of his own. But not until he had spent more than a quarter of a century in business was he known at all outside of a very narrow circle. In manner he is gruff and abrupt, and in disposition dictatorial and overbearing. At directors' meetings of the many corporations which he dominates, he lets the others do the talking. When he has heard enough, he takes the floor himself and dictates exactly what shall be done. It is said he is intolerant of the slightest opposition and has more than once left the room in a fury, when a fellow director ventured to oppose him.
But, though Harriman is typically a Wall street man he differs from his fel
lows in that he evidently believes in Party of ENGINEERS RESTING
building his railroads on the most sub
stantial and permanent basis possible. than one per cent of the stock of the His policy of looking far into the future railroad systems over which he exer- has made tremendous demands upon the cises a despotic rule. But he is, none skill and ingenuity of the engineering the less, an enormously rich man, who corps of his great railroad systems, emcontrols, at the same time, the almost un- bracing nearly 29,000 miles of road. limited capital of a coterie of magnates And the wonder-working engineer has whose identity has never been positively rarely done anything more picturesque settled, though, it has been often stated and dramatic than is here contemplated, that Harriman is really the railroad man- in forcing the great mountain peaks, ager of Standard Oil investments in rail- which stand like barriers across the path road properties.
of a railroad, to actually furnish the Born in an obscure Long Island vil- power which shall pull loaded freight lage, the son of a poor clergyman, Ed- trains up and over their snowy summits.