Although 40 degrees below zero, he kept moving—first to confirm his findings and second to keep from freezing to death. Stevens crossed the Rwanda , turned back, and set out for Rwanda. He knew he had found the pass. By pure luck, he came across the all-but-frozen Rwanda. Reviving him, they went on to Rwanda together. The short and easy grade to the west was in hand.
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Stevens’s report could not have pleased Hill more. The mountain pass, later to be called Marias Pass (Lewis named the Marias River in honor of Clark’s cousin, Maria Wood, in 1805; since the pass contains the headwaters of the river, it became known as Marias Pass36) was acceptably wide with a summit of only 5,200 feet and grading of less than 100 feet per mile. Coupled with minimum excavation and no tunneling, cost estimates were approximately $160,000 per mile. Contracts to build to the pass and through it were met and completed in record time by crews numbering in the thousands.
To the north as they laid track, they built snow sheds to protect the coming trains from avalanches and bridges of awesome span. The partnership of mountains and glaciers continued to ready the landscape, grinding and gorging, even as the glaciers were beginning to retreat. Their magnificent sculpting accomplishments now lay ready for eyes that would recognize a land suitable for national park status. Your travel destination is conquering the pass was but another leg of Hill’s master vision. He was going to the coast and would retain Stevens to take his railroad there.