Maps of Theodore Judah

Judah, Theodore D
Judah, Theodore D

Theodore Judah (1826-1863)

Theodore D. Judah was a brilliant civil engineer who dreamed of building a transcontinental railroad. He worked tirelessly surveying a route for a railroad to connect California to the rest of the country. Judah convinced several Sacramento businessmen to invest in the Central Pacific Railroad. They filed incorporation papers for the new Central Pacific Railroad in the summer of 1861. When he lost control of the railroad in 1863, Judah traveled east to recruit new investors. He died in New York after contracting yellow fever crossing the Isthmus of Panama. (Text courtesy of Debbie Hollingsworth and Chuck Spinks.)

Map of the Sacramento Valley Railroad

In 1854, Theodore D. Judah, a 28 year old railroad engineer from Bridgeport, Connecticut published "The Map of the Sacramento Valley Railroad: from the city of Sacramento to the crossing of the American River at Negro Bar, Sac. Co." Judah, as Chief Engineer of the Sacramento Valley Railroad, was brought in to supervise the building of the line from Sacramento northeast for about 23 miles up the American River to Negro Bar, an area near present day Folsom. This map depicts one of the first railroads built in California. The line was completed in 1856 with the first train leaving the Sacramento station on February 22nd. This route still runs trains to this day and is used by the Union Pacific Railroad.

Central Pacific Railroad Proposed Alignment Map

This is a map created by Theodore D. Judah, Chief Engineer, Central Pacific Railroad, in 1861. Titled, Central Pacific Railroad Proposed Alignment Map (aka the Judah Map), it measures 2.5 feet wide by 66 feet long.

This map shows the center line of the railroad and the limits of the right-of-way. The right-of-way is 200 feet. Judah notes this as “12 rods wide.” The survey map also shows the railroad’s alignment, or placement, in relation to streams, road crossings, etc. Unlike a topographic map, it does not show contours for elevation. This was a map prepared to show alignment. It did not have enough information for construction.

This map includes 4 maps in one continuous roll. Each map includes a table of alignments and Judah's proposed route.

1. Barmore Station to Clipper Gap,

2. Rattlesnake Bluffs to the summit of the Sierra Nevada;

3. The summit to the Truckee River

4. Dutch Flat to Rattlesnake Bluffs

Judah probably prepared this map exclusively for the state of California. He used a smaller map for lobbying Congress for funding.

(Text courtesy of Debbie Hollingsworth and Chuck Spinks.)