The New Legend-News

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Saturday, 2007 August 25 : Number 7 (Volume 10, Number 8)

“Lies, Half-truths and Stuff That We Made Up”

New Critters on the Block

Ed (I’m not a real Boulderite, honest!) Myers (Boulder, Colorado)

I’ve been a fan of Bill’s since 1976! We used to play the heck out of McCall tapes during family trips. I’d love to share a cuppa hot C with him.

Henry Wheeler (Rochester, Minnesota)

Well, I’m on the very crispy side. I was one who enjoyed Bill’s many talents and off-beat antics way back in Audubon High School.

Today’s History Lesson: The Union Pacific Railroad

The Union Pacific Railroad, headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, is the largest railroad network in the United States.

Union Pacific logotype The Union Pacific Railroad was incorporated on July 1, 1862 in the wake of the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862. Under the guidance of its dominant stockholder, Thomas C. Durant, the first rails were laid in Omaha, Nebraska. They were part of the railroads that came together at Promontory Summit, Utah, in 1869 as the first transcontinental railroad in North America. Subsequently, UP took over the Utah Central extending south from Ogden, Utah, through Salt Lake City, and the Utah & Northern, extending from Ogden through Idaho into Montana, and it built or absorbed local lines that gave it access to Denver and to Portland, Oregon, and the Pacific Northwest. It acquired the Kansas Pacific (originally called the Union Pacific, Eastern Division, though in essence a separate railroad). It also owned narrow gauge trackage into the heart of the Colorado Rockies and a standard gauge line south from Denver across New Mexico into Texas.

Okay, that’s the trivial stuff. Thank you, Wikipedia!

The important date is ‘1869’, when on May 10th of that year the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads met at Promontory, Utah with the driving of the Golden Spike. One hundred years later Bozell & Jacobs, an advertising agency which is headquartered in Omaha, Nebrasaka, campaigned for the account of the Union Pacific. Bill Fries, who you may remember from previous references, wrote a song to commemorate the event: “Great Big Rollin' Railroad“. Coincidentally, Bill was working for Bozell & Jacobs at that time, and the song was written as a presentation to get the UP account for B&J.

If you want to sing along to this pre-C.W. McCall ditty, download the MP3.

Great Big Rollin’ Railroad
(Bill Fries, Richard Proulx)

We’re a great big rollin’ railroad
One that everybody knows
We were born of gold and silver spikes
A hundred years ago

We’re a million miles of history
A-shinin’ in the sun
We’re the Union Pacific
And our story’s just begun

From the Great Plains of Nebraska
To the California seas
From the summits of the Rockies
To the mighty redwood trees

We’re a thousand wheels of freight train
Hear the diesel engines power
We’re the Union Pacific
Doin’ ninety miles an hour

Bound from Omaha to Portland
Through Cheyenne and Laramie
We’re a-headin’ west for Boise
On the mainline to the sea

’cross the flats at Salt Lake City
On to Vegas and L.A.
We’re the Union Pacific
And we’ve got the right of way

From the green fields of the prairies
To the blue Pacific shores
We deliver your great cargo
And come rollin’ home for more

On the backbone of our nation
You can see us make the climb
We’re the Union Pacific
And we’re gonna be on time

From the green fields of the prairies
To the blue Pacific shores
We deliver your great cargo
And come rollin’ home for more

On the backbone of our nation
You can see us make the climb
We’re the Union Pacific
And we’re gonna be on time

In December 2006, the Omaha Ad Club placed “Great Big Rollin’ Railroad” as number 5 on its list of the 100 greatest moments in Omaha advertising. Sixth position was awarded to some bread commercials.


The Legend-News is published randomly by TechRen Enterprises, a trilogy in five parts. Copyright 2007 TechRen Enterprises. Send complaints, kudos, suggestions, news and other contributions to legend-news@cw-mccall.com. “Mother of God! I’ve swallowed hot lava!”