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May 1866

Durant Hires General Dodge

Dodge earned a degree as a civil engineer and at one time worked as a surveyor for the M & M Railroad and owned a freight-shipping agency. In the Civil War, he served under Generals Sherman and Grant and helped repair Southern railroads. Several times, Thomas Durant urged Dodge to leave the war effort and join Union Pacific, but Dodge would not leave until he felt he had fulfilled his duty. His other condition: As chief engineer, he wanted absolute control of construction. Today, Grenville Dodge remains the one person most closely identified with the construction of Union Pacific.

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To construct a road, the Union Pacific had to cross land occupied by native peoples. For them, it was imperative to protect their families and homeland against the imminent invasion of a flood of immigrants. To do so, the native peoples repeatedly attacked without warning, and UP acted as its own army. The Pawnee played an instrumental role protecting Union Pacific crews and scouting the land where UP would lay its original 1,086 miles of railroad. Unlike the UP workers, CP construction teams had few encounters with the Paiute Indians or other tribes in the Far West.

In 2012, Union Pacific celebrates the shared stories that have shaped our country since 1862. To mark our 150th anniversary, we invite you to explore how the nation’s largest railroad came to be and how UP continues to build America with innovation and tenacity, touching the lives of nearly every citizen.