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By Laura Moncur in Frank McDonough Jr.'s Odometer

Frank McDonough Jr.’s Personal Journal dated May 24, 1869:

Fig Andrews by LauraMoncur from FlickrTry as I might to suppress it, the anger within me has welled up and is threatening to spill over the brim of my very being. This week, we received a visit from Fig Andrews, head surveyor for the Missouri Bridge. Just the sight of him made me clench my fists in rage. His braggart ways make me wish that I were a different man. One who could cause his head fall in shame and envy.

His visit started innocuous enough. He was checking on our progress, comparing it with the work of previous surveyors of the area. Thanks to my new odometer, I’ve covered many miles of desolate and rocky land with a speed that is hard to believe, though I took the step of every inch of it myself. As I expected, Fig Andrews mocked my work and even conjectured that I had fabricated my numbers and measures. Fortunately, hard work needs no explanation and supports itself without witness. My measures were vindicated on their own merit.

After all that scrutiny, however, Fig let the true reason for his visit be revealed. He wished to revel in the conquest of the Missouri River. His team had been working day and night to get their measures completed so that the bridge over the river would be constructed before we could finish our Denver Line. With his surveying done, the construction could start now and be finished by early 1872. Several months before we could complete our line at our current rate of surveying.

For months, I have worked under the hope that the bridge over the Missouri River would be delayed. I dreamt that their teams would dawdle at their duties. Only now have my hopes been dashed against the rocks of the Colorado landscape. Unless we complete the surveying work within a couple of weeks, there is no way we can beat the northern line team to complete the TRUE transcontinental railway.