Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Completed

Wheeling Register
February 1, 1873


Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Completed - Ceremonies of Laying the Last Rail.

Hawk's Nest, W. Va., January 29.

The last rail on the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad, connecting the Chesapeake with the Ohio, the seaboard with the 12,000 miles of constant navigation on the Ohio, Mississippi and its tributaries, and Richmond with the Great West, was laid to-day at 1 o'clock P. M. The last spike in the last rail was driven by Captain C. R. Mason, the Napoleon of railroad contractors, who has been identified with this great enterprise since its inception, forty years ago. Captain Mason shoveled the first dirt on the old Louisa railroad, from which this great trunk line has sprung. He was for fourteen years the General Superintendent, and has been a contractor in every part of the line, and on its heaviest work, and has completed the labor which he began forty years ago. He had in his hand the rule which he used in measuring the first work ever done on the line. He insisted that some of the oldest spike drivers should hit a few taps before he drove it home.

In calling on Captain Mason, Major Whitecomb, Chief Engineer, spoke of the appropriateness of having him drive the last spike, and returned his hearty thanks to the engineers, contractors and laborers for their energy in pushing the work through amid so many difficulties. He said that he deemed it especially appropriate to return thanks to the Giver of all good, and called on Rev. J. Wm. Jones, of Richmond, who was born in the year in which the road was begun, who offered the following prayer:

"Almighty God - Our most gracious, Heavenly Father, Supreme Architect of the Universe, Ruler in the affairs of men, as amid the armies of skies, we desire as we gather on this happy occasion, to devoutly recognize Thy hand and bring Thee the homage of grateful hearts. We would render Thee thanks that the hopes of forty years are realized; that arduous labors and untiring perseverance are rewarded, and that patient skill is crowned with success in the completion to-day of this great work. We thank Thee, O God, that Thou didst put it into the minds of earnest men to project this great road, and for all that Thou didst enable them to accomplish. And we give Thee thanks that when they could do no more Thou didst raise up others with ample resources and sufficient enterprise to push it to so speedy a completion. And now, O Lord, we pray Thy richest blessing upon this road. Bless all of its officers and employes [sic] that they may have at all times clear eyes and cool heads and steady hands to carry in safety the precious freight that may be committed to their charge. Make this road a blessing to the counties and States through which it runs, and to the whole country. May it, we beseech Thee, bind with links of steel in closest friendship and fraternity widely separated sections, and peoples of our common country; and above all, as men shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase through its instrumentality, may it bear to destitute regions messengers of the Prince of Peace, and scatter far and wide through these mountains and valleys the printed page that tells of Jesus, thus contributing to the hastening of the glad time when kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ; all of which we ask and offer in the name and for the sake of Christ, our dear Redeemer. Amen."

There were present a large number of engineers, contractors and citizens, who gave a hearty cheer when the work was done.

Virginia sends greeting to Ohio; Richmond to Cincinnati. May this great line promote acquaintance, trade, good-fellowship and fraternity between those who have so much in common.