|The Salt Lake Tribune|
Saturday, December 13, 1902
Died - In Salt Lake City December 11th, Joshua Nichols, a native of New York, aged 71 years and 9 months.
Poor Nichols. He started in life with a brain that caused him to grown up a master in the industrial world.
He naturally took to railroading. There was something in its energy and power that found a responsive chord in
his own soul. He was a pioneer and the master spirit in building and operating the Chicago & Rock Island. He was
a master of all the details of railroad building. He knew all about grades and how on long lines to adjust those
grades for the most economical operating of a road. He knew all about engines; where the strain and weight
would come and he dressed a locomotive as a soldier dresses his command for long marches.
He figured that engines of a certain power ought to bring a certain tonnage into Chicago. When they failed he
never rested until he found the cause in an inferior lubricant. Then he invented a lubricant of his own, obtained
the work from the locomotives that they were due to perform. When stockholders would have slighted their
roads in construction or equipment, Nichols pointed out to them that "Westward the course of empire takes its
way," that while at first the road would be but the blazing of a trail, the young men of the Eastern States and
the millions of Europe would swiftly follow, and the road would have to be a burden-bearer on a route over which
commerce would send the products of a continent. He was a man on whom such men as Dillon, Roberts and the
other railroad kings of the old days leaned as their foremost division commander. No other man had promise,
forty years ago, of a brighter future than he. But in a gale one night in Chicago, a swinging sign was blown away
and falling, it struck Nichols on the head. He was thought to be dead and was laid out as such, but later he
showed signs of life, and eventually recovered. But ever after there were a few loosened strings on the finely
strung harp of his mind, and they sometimes "jangled out of tune."
But still, if his judgment was a little unsteady at times, there was no doubt about the quality of his brain. It
was such a one as is possessed by the masters of the world's great forces; he took in the continent at a glance;
he knew by instinct where in the wilderness Commerce would locate its strategic points and build its forts, and
what the approaches ought to be. He was, moreover, a great reader and thinker. Occult writings and the study
of antiquities were delights to him; he was a close friend of Dr. Le Plongen, and kept up a correspondence with
him until the pen fell from his grasp, and all the time he kept his heart as warm and sunny as a child's. He has
been ill for a year, desperately sick for months, and the rest that has come to him now must be most welcome.
Joshua Rufus Nichols, who died in Salt Lake Thursday morning, was born in Utica, New York, seventy-one years
ago. He came to Utah in 1870 and was at one time prominent in mining circles, holding large interests in Park
City and Idaho. For some time before coming to Utah he was assistant superintendent of the Burlington
Railroad at Omaha. He leaves one son, Walter Hammond Nichols, professor of history in the University of
Colorado at Boulder. For some years past the mother, Elizabeth has made her home with this son. The funeral
services will be held in Masonic hall Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock under the auspices of Argenta Lodge, of
which Mr. Nichols was a member. Professor Nichols is in the city to attend the funeral and to close up his