1881: Chicago – Kansas City – Denver

On August 2nd my brother accompanied me to the station, and I left Chicago on the midday train on the Chicago-Burlington & Quincy-Railroad. Albeit I took a so called „Emigrant Train“ – only 3rd class wagons – I had to pay 61½ Dollars for my journey to Bozeman; however it was a distance of 2230 english miles, around 4000 kilometers.

The train was quite full, most of them were emigrants, who looked for a new home in the West. Many Swedes with flaxen hair were among them. In the afternoon, I should have left the train in Galesburg, but due to an error from the conductor I travelled a full three hours in the wrong direction, until I was able to to start the journey back at a junction station, where a train was ready for departure. After six hours, I was back in Galesburg without paying an extra cent. In the meantime, it was night. I had to spend five hours at the station on not comfortable benches, in order to continue my journey at 4 o’clock in the morning. After four hours we reached the Mississippi near Quincy and crossed the wide water surface on a huge bridge. We had a layover of two hours in Quincy. Also on the future train rides we would experience such time-consuming delays very often, which were not written in the timetables. At 10 o’clock we continued with the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad to Kansas City, which we reached at 9:30 at night, shortly after we we had crossed the waves of the massive Missouri.

Until here the train had only 2nd class wagons, the actual emigrant train should only start here. On every window at the right and left side of the wagon, two large batten benches with two seats faced each other, leaving a corridor in the middle of the wagon. These benches were able to be moved in such a way, that two facing benches would form a comfortable, yet hard bed for two people. Below the ceiling, there was another pallet (makeshift bed) made out of batten, which could be brought to a horizontal position, so that they served for two people to sleep in. All seats were taken. Because it was time to sleep, I soon swung up in order to enjoy a good sleep after the bad night in the waiting hall of Galesburg.

The Union Pacific Railroad led us through the fertile fields of Kansas. From time to time, the train stopped at a station, where coffee and tea were available. Spiritual drinks [alcohol] were forbidden in all of Kansas because the temperance movement was in control and did not allow the sale of beer, wine or any other spiritual drinks. Further to the west, the land becomes barren and almost uninhabited. On the flat prairie we see a horse or a cow only seldomly, however we see countless prairie dogs who jump out of their holes and look curiously at the train and disappear quickly, this is almost the only life in the barren prairie. On the night of the 5th of August we stop at Hugo, the first station in Colorado. Here we can finally refresh our thirsty throats with beer for dear money, which is served in 1/6 liter glasses for 10 cents. On the 6th of August we reach Denver at 4 o’clock in the morning, a place at the mountainside of quite significance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *