Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gun Show, Monuments

     I'm off to the gun show, assuming I can stay vertical that long.  Yes, still exhausted.

     ...Meanwhile, the Ames Monument has been standing vertical for over a century.   A kind of pyramid or pylon, approximately the middle of nowhere (well, it's a short drive from Laramie), what's that about?  Why, it's about a crooked politician, his brother, and the transcontinental railroad.

     Thomas Durant, you see, was something of a sharper; and he was driving the Union Pacific from the vice-president's seat, installing a series of Respectable Types as president while subcontracting work to other firms he controlled, at inflated prices.  Tsk-tsk you say, and you should -- Federal Tax Money (and Land Grants) was paying for all this.

     Eventually, work slowed to a crawl.  Even the Feds suspected, President Lincoln* asked Representative Oakes Ames of Massachusetts to get the railroad moving.  Somehow -- for a given value of "somehow" -- this ended up with his brother, Oliver Ames, as president of Union Pacific (see above), Durant as V.P. (still; see above) and Rep. Ames at the helm of track-construction subcontractor Crédit Mobilier.  The track started getting built -- and the public kept on getting bilked, now with the added fillip of Congresscritters buying discounted stock to be sold at a healthy profit.  When the scandal finally broke, Ulysses S. Grant was in the White House, the railroad was done, and Oakes Ames got himself censured.  (And Thomas Durant? Already marginalized at Union Pacific (et. al), when the Panic of 1873 broke, he was pushed out by Jay Gould and spent most of his remaining years mired in lawsuits.  

     But he and the Ameses did get the railroad built.  And thus the monument stands.  --The railroad itself?  The right-of-way crept away to the South years ago;  you can't even see the Ames Monument from the train.
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* Per some sources; the chronology is tight and it may well have been Johnson.

6 comments:

Tango Juliet said...

Have fun!

Old NFO said...

Enjoy the show, and the Ames monument just shows 'nothing' has changed... sigh

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

There are some interesting pictures and documentation of the monument's interior here (PDF warning!). It was never meant to be a publicly accessible space, but erosion uncovered an opening and local teens - being typical teenagers - took advantage of it until it was sealed in the 1980's.

Enjoy the Fun Show!

Roberta X said...

Very kewl link, Jake! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Always thought southern Wyoming looked like the surface of the moon. Retirement there for me would be sitting on the porch, reading/writing sci-fi, drinking cold bland American beer and shooting lizards.

Jim Dunmyer said...

You have links to the darndest things; I always learn something.

Thank you!!