Summary of Chapter Twenty-six: “In which Phileas Fogg and party travel by the Pacific Railroad”
The American Railroad stretches from coast to coast, cutting a formerly six-month journey down to seven days. The Pacific Railroad goes from San Francisco to Ogden, Utah; the Union Pacific from Ogden to Omaha. From Omaha there are five lines to New York. Yet between Omaha and the west coast, the country is full of wild Indians and beasts. Fogg has to get to New York by December 11th.
He rides in a car with no compartments, but there are special cars for dining and smoking. Fix and Passepartout sit next to each other but do not talk. The train goes only 20 miles an hour, and the passengers sleep during the night, as the car is transformed into a sleeping car with berths. It begins to snow as the train enters the Sierra Nevada. It goes around the mountains. In the day, they see herds of buffalos, one head of twelve thousand strong stops the train as they take hours to cross the tracks. Fogg waits “philosophically” (p. 141) in his seat, but Passepartout is furious. He swears and wonders if Fogg had foreseen this in his progamme! In the evening they reach Utah and near the Great Salt Lake.
Commentary on Chapter 26
Verne goes into great detail about the American railroad, which was quite an engineering feat for crossing such a vast and wild country. Yet the modern train, with its luxuries and different kinds of cars, is still stopped by a herd of buffalo. The train is traveling the speed it needs to go to get to New York on time, but it does not take into account all these delays. Passepartout is worried and does not see how Fogg could have foreseen the buffalo in his calculations. Fogg’s calculations are always different from those of the railway or anyone else. He is not disturbed.