|EDITOR'S NOTE: The following letter,
handwritten and signed by Lewis Kingman, is dated Oct.
15, 1889. It was an inquiry concerning a
possible job opening. At the time, Kingman was
serving as city engineer in Topeka, Kan. The
letter was found in personal items belonging to
Kingman's son and was handed down to Richard Kingman,
who is Lewis Kingman's grandson and who lives in
Topeka. Due to the difficulty of deciphering
Kingman's handwriting, some of the names mentioned may
be misspelled here.
Chas. C. Black
Room 203, Essex Block
Kansas City, Mo.
Your letter of yesterday received.
I am quite pleasantly situated here.
At the same time, I am occupying a place that I did not
much covet at the start, and should the right kind of an
offer be made and the company making it have the
necessary financial backing and assurance of stability,
I might be glad to accept.
I am too old to want to work for
glory. I wish some of the shackles and don't want
to take any chances of working without the shackles or
I do not know anything at all about your
company. You have quite a large open country to
operate in, and I see no reason why a line as far as the
Pecos Valley should not pay.
I am familiar with the southern part of
Colorado, the greater part of New Mexico and Arizona,
and have some knowledge of Texas from my own
My engineering experience is as follows: Am
about 45 years old, graduated at an academy at Brockton,
Plymouth County, Mass, studied two years in J. Herbert
Shedd's office, No. 42 Court St., Boston, commencing
Left Boston in 1864 - spent one season at Wilkes-Barre,
Pa., with Martin Coryell, in 1865.
I was employed by Hamilton E. Zowle, 48
Cedar St., New York City, and at Oil City, Pa. Continued
in the oil regions until March 1868. Came to St.
Louis, was employed by Mr. Coggens three months, then by
Thos. McKissoch for three years, a part of this
time under Mr. S.E. Buchanan, now superintendent of
Arkansas road at Helena.
Mr. McKissoch died two or more years
ago. At the time I was employed by him, he was
chief engineer of the Atlantic and Pacific.
James May, now chief engineer of the Northern Pacific,
was his chief clerk, and James Dean, now chief engineer
of the Frisco, was a division engineer on an adjoining
division to me.
I returned a final estimate of 43 miles of
what is now the Frisco road in Missouri had a division
at Dixon, Humboldt and Marshfield in 1871.
Jacob Blickensderfer succeeded Mr.
McKissoch as chief engineer, and he sent me to
Albuquerque, N.M., on a survey across the
continent. At that time I made a survey from Fort
Bascom on Red River of New Mexico to Albuquerque, and
scouted over the Texas border nearly to Adobe Walls.
We finished these surveys on Nov. 9, 1871,
and was in Las Vegas, N.M., on that day and heard of the
On my way to St. Louis I was offered a
place under W.R. Morley, a nephew of J.W. Morley of the
Iron Mountain Road, recently deceased. Morley was
at that time operating under General Parmer of the
Kansas Pacific and the Maxwell Land Grant Co of New
I located a line from Kit Carson on the
K.R. Road to Cimarron, N.M., near Springer, N.M., and
finished in the fall of 1872.
Railroad work nearly ceased for a few years
at this time, and I obtained government contracts in New
Mexico, during the years 1873-1874 and �75, running out
over 2,500 miles of lines over some of the most broken
parts of the territory.
The years 1878, 1879 I was employed
locating and examining the country from Las Vegas and
Santa Fe to Tucson; Ariz., taking in Camp Apache,
Prescott, the Gila and nearly all the accessible country
in southern Arizona and southwest New Mexico.
In December 1879 1 was ordered by Mr.
Robinson to look at the line of the Atlantic and Pacific
road in Arizona from the Little Colorado River to the
Colorado River, which I did, then went down to
Eherinburg, then to Fort Yuma, then back to Tucson,
Silver City and Santa Fe. Six months with a pack
outfit, all for the Santa Fe - a few shackles and a
In February 1880 1 was ordered down to
Albuquerque to commence the location of the Atlantic and
Pacific from there to the Colorado River. I
continued this work until l882, and the whole line from
Albuquerque to the Colorado River was witness to my
skill as a locating engineer.
There are places that did not lack for
boldness, such as Canyon Diablo and Johnson's
Canyon. The first, 222 feet deep, crossed by an
iron bridge 541 feet long. The great part of the
way was located with due regard to economy and ease of
I was appointed chief engineer of the
Atlantic and Pacific Jan. 1, 1882. My appointment
was made through the Santa Fe influence Mr. Thos.
Nickerson, Mr. B. Strong and A.A. Robinson.
I held this place until the track was
within about 45 miles of the Colorado River, when I
resigned to accept the position of the Mexican Central
Road, Chihuahua Division. I took that place on the
first day of April 1883, and located, graded, tracked
and completed that railway from La Cruze, the 315th
mile, to the 767th mile at Calera, and connected with
the south end on the eighth day of March 1884, building
complete 452 miles in 11 months and eight days.
In 26 days of the month of February, 1884
we laid 73 miles. I kept my graders out of the way
and managed material at the front and kept things going
smoothly. I had a caboose car and kept it at the
front most of the time while this push lasted.
The Mexican Central was completed none too soon,
for the company was hard pressed for money to pay off
after the road was completed.
I was retired, and came back to my old friend the
Santa Fe in July 1884 and remained with that company
until Jan. 1, 1887.
In 1886, Mr. Robinson made me his assistant, in
charge of all construction work in Kansas Indian
Territory and Texas. In 1887 I had charge of and
built complete 845 miles in the places named, mostly in
Kansas. I had charge of the line to Purcell in the
I Territory and to Panhandle in Texas.
In a run for Purcell, under pressure from Mr.
Strong, I had the Canadian River Bridge built in four
days from the time the track reached there, and I
reached Purcell on time.
In Kansas during 1887-88, we were often
hard-pushed to reach points to earn the bonds, and we
were never left, although on one or two occasions we had
to resort to unusual efforts to do so.
The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad paid me $305
per month while chief engineer. Mr. Nickerson and
D.B. Robinson paid me $500 per month in gold and my
expenses while traveling. - 1887 and 1888 - The Santa Fe
Co. paid me $375 per month and my expenses when
I have given you an outline of my experience and
operations. I do not know what to say until I know
more of your plans, finances and prospects.