In the year above referred to, he had many consultations with the stockholders of the Western Union, the result of which was that a preliminary survey was decided upon. Notwithstanding that travelling by the Overland coach was beset with great danger from attacks by road agents and Indians, Mr. Creighton was compelled to cross the continent by the only means of transportation; and, stopping at Salt Lake City, he excited the interest and enlisted the support of the great head of the Mormon Church.
It had been arranged to invite the association of the California Telegraph Company in the enterprise, and, notwithstanding the terrors of a midwinter journey, Mr. Creighton pressed on on horseback for Sacramento. It was a fearful trip, but the man who made it was stout of heart and he braved the rigours of the mountains, accomplished his mission, and in the spring of 1861 returned to Omaha to commence the great work. The United States, meanwhile, had granted a subsidy of forty thousand dollars a year to the first company who should build a line across the continent. It may well be imagined that a great race was immediately inaugurated for heavy wagers, between Mr. Creighton’s force and that of the Californians, who were building eastwardly, each party trying to reach Salt Lake City before the other.
Mr. Creighton had eleven hundred miles to construct, while the California company’s distance from the objective point was only four hundred and fifty; yet the indefatigable Mr. Creighton reached Salt Lake City with his completed line on the 17th of October, one week ahead of his competitors.
On the 24th of the same month, but a little more than half a year after its commencement, Mr. Creighton had established telegraphic communication from ocean to ocean. For his remuneration he took one hundred thousand dollars worth of the stock of the new enterprise at about eighteen cents on the dollar. When the project was completed, the company trebled its amount of shares and Mr. Creighton’s one hundred thousand dollars immediately enhanced to three hundred thousand. The stock at once rose to the value of eighty-five cents, and he sold out his original one hundred thousand dollars for eight hundred and fifty thousand, still retaining two hundred thousand dollars worth of stock.
With the completion of the telegraph across the continent all the important news could be flashed from ocean to ocean in a few seconds, so the Pony Express ceased to be necessary; the great Concord coach, too, was limited to the mere transportation of passengers and express matter. It was the avant courier of more rapid transit by the palatial trains of the magnificent Union Pacific system which shod the old trail with steel, though at the beginning of the era of the Overland Stage such a railroad was regarded as an idle dream.