‘Crazy Judah’ was the spark who ignited the transcontinental railroad. Railroads were the sum total of his life. Historian Oscar Lewis called him “studious, industrious, resourceful, opinionated, humorless, and extraordinarily competent.? Trained as an engineer, Theodore Judah started his career planning and building the Niagara Gorge Railroad and as an overseer for the construction of a section of the Erie Canal. Judah was reticent when the president of a proposed railroad plying the terrain between Sacramento and the placer-mining districts in California, the Sacramento Valley line, offered him the post of chief engineer. But after two nights of friendly persuasion and having the right buttons pressed, Judah relented. “Anna,? he wrote to his wife, “I’m going to California to be the pioneer railroad engineer of the Pacific Coast.?