Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sacramento History Photo(s) of the Week: Issue No. 2

Central Pacific Railroad Hospital, circa 1887. Built in 1869 at the corner of 13th and “C” streets at a cost of $64,000, the CPR hospital was a result of the company’s desire to fill a healthcare and morale vacuum for its employees, many of whom were migrants, solitary, and without sufficient funds to acquire proper care. In fact, by 1883, 125 Irishmen had matriculated though CPR care, as compared to the 65 native Californians who had. Facility and medical costs were funded by a “hospital due” which, by 1890, came out to roughly 50 cents a month. Free care was predicated on injury sustained in service of the CPR. The hospital, which gained the reputation for being one of the finest medical facilities on the west coast, succumbed to fire in 1904.

Thomas W. Huntington, MD, circa 1890. One of the best medical talents in the early American West, Huntington was Staff then Chief Surgeon at the Central Pacific Hospital from 1882 until his death in 1929. His adherence to the principles of English physician Joseph Lister and the early use of antiseptics during patient recovery were groundbreaking. Overnight, Central Pacific deaths from infection from traumatic accidents dropped from 30 to 40 percent to 5 to 7 percent. Huntington also lived in Alkali Flat, first at 515 13th Street, then at 1215 “H” Street.

These photos and many more like them can be found in the Sacramento Public Library’s Sacramento Room which is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 1 to 5, and Thursday 1 to 8.

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