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By Laura Moncur in Frank McDonough Jr.'s Odometer

Frank McDonough Jr.’s Personal Journal dated May 31, 1869:

As unsettling as it is in reality, I am hoping that putting my thoughts and observations in words will make it seem less unnerving. Over the last week, I have surveyed more of the Colorado landscape than I have ever done before. Miles and miles have flown under my feet at the mere thought of Fig Andrews and his team finishing the Missouri Bridge before my team is even allowed to start construction.

I cannot explain it and it is certainly to come under the scrutiny of the Kansas Pacific Railway officials. I strap on my new odometer and start to work. I survey miles and miles of land, expecting the sun to give me rest in the evening, but when I check my pocket watch, a few minutes have only passed. I have traversed miles faster than the locomotive that will certainly glide across these plains.

Kansas Pacific Railway by LauraMoncur from FlickrMy speed feels leisurely to me. I am unfagged by the exertion. Today, I set out from Denver to retrace my previous surveys of the line. With just an angry thought of Fig Andrews and his team, my work breezed past me like a warm southern wind. This evening, I saw Kansas City on the horizon. Its inviting and familiar boarding house welcomed me, but I shivered through and through.

Somehow, this odometer not only helps me survey the land, but traverse it far faster than any other method of perambulation. I am eternally grateful to it and what it promises me, yet I fear its power and jealous nature.