This hot water urn was part of a magnificent silver service presented to Louis Carmichael by his friends and colleagues for building the first transcontinental railroad in America. In 1865 Carmichael was selected as the contractor and, together with his team, overcame substantial difficulties to connect the existing eastern U.S. rail network with the Pacific coast at San Francisco Bay. To mark his success on the eve of completion on 10 May 1869, Carmichael was presented with the silver service. The Utah Daily Reporter stated: ‘On the 11th inst. at the Jenks House, at Echo City, Mr. Louis Carmichael, the king of graders, was presented with an elegant set of solid silver with $5,000.00 by his companions and employees of the road’.
The service was made by the American silversmithing company Tiffany and Co. to designs by Edward C. Moore. The centrepiece of the whole set was a huge tray with four oval vignettes engraved with scenes of the building of the railroad surrounding the dedication inscription ‘Presented to Louis Carmichael, by Friends and Companions Engaged in Building the Union Pacific Rail Road as a Token of Affection and Esteem 1869’. Other pieces from the service were donated to the Utah Historical Society by Carmichael’s great-granddaughter Elizabeth Schutt.