Some railroad advocates used the disaster of the Central America as an argument in support of a transcontinental railroad. This effort was led by Sacramento engineer Theodore Judah, who published an important pamphlet on the subject at the time of the shipwreck.
Judah never lived to see the transcontinental railroad but there is an historic irony here. He had solicited financial support from the Sacramento merchants: Hopkins, Huntington, Stanford and Charles Crocker, soon to be better known as the Big Four, the builders of the Central Pacific Railroad. Later, Adeline Mills Easton’s daughter, Jennie, would marry the son of Charles Crocker.
The Central America herself was not insured but the underwriting companies were committed to covering the losses of the precious gold cargo. The New York banks–already faced with the financial Panic of 1857 –could collapse if the American underwriters did not reimburse their losses.
(Next Part 13)