When East Meets West: The Last Spike of the Transcontinental Railroad | Mental Floss
By the s, the nation's railway networks extended throughout the East, South, and Midwest the country as thousands of immigrants and miners sought their fortune in the West. Judah did not live to see the Central Pacific begin work; he departed Sacramento meet on May 10, , at Promontory Summit, Utah. Fun facts about the route, the Union Pacific, and the Pacific Railroad Act. The First Transcontinental Railroad stretched from the East Coast of the United States to the West Coast. The two railroads would meet somewhere in the middle. The Central Pacific Railroad had to blast a number of tunnels through the Sierra. In , Congress hastily passed the Pacific Railroad Act. This act led to the creation of the Union Pacific, which would lay rails west from Omaha, and the Central Pacific, which would start in Sacramento and build east. With the subsidies in mind, Dodge had no time to waste and laid track on ice and snow anyway.
The two companies involved were the Union Pacific and Central Pacific, racing from Omaha and Sacramento, respectively, for as many subsidized miles as they could build before the rails met. The Central Pacific utilized over 10, Chinese willing to work for less and in perilous conditions—which was important for Central, since they had to climb and blast their way through the Sierras almost as soon as they left Sacramento.
The Tracks Meet at Promontory, Utah Congress made the fool's mistake of assuming some motivating rationality on the part of the railroad companies, and not just base greed, so they didn't dictate just how, when, or where the rails must meet. When Central and Union crews ran into each other in northern Utah, instead of merging the lines right away, they set off building miles of parallel grading, with each company hoping to acquire more mileage and thus more of the reward money.
With a kind of paternal exasperation, then, Congress had to set a junction point; and they chose Promontory, Utah—a little tent town of railroad workers and prostitutes just north of the Great Salt Lake. Precious Metals and Railroad Fat Cats Make Good News Since the meeting of the rails was such a meaningful and publicized national event, everyone considered it fit to celebrate with extravagant ceremony.
Of course, extravagance ought to involve precious metals whenever it can, so four precious spikes were donated to adorn the last tie. There was an iron, silver, and gold spike from Arizona; a silver spike from Nevada; one gold spike from the San Francisco News Letter; and the crowning spike of gold from David Hewes, a friend of Central Pacific magnate Leland Stanford who was also founder of the University. Hewes' spike was the first to be made, and it inspired the rest.
Hearing of the grand event, Hewes was initially disappointed at a lack of symbolic and precious metal objects donated for the ceremony, so he got the ball rolling himself. Often, though, they solved their problem by passing it on to others.
History: First Transcontinental Railroad
The UP simply paid good wages to tie-cutters and daily bonuses for ties received. Thus crowds of tie-cutters invaded Nebraska to cut trees wherever they were found, and deliver freshly cut ties right up to the UP line.
The UP leaders conveniently argued that, since most of Nebraska was unsurveyed, farmers in the way were therefore squatters and held no right to any trees on this 'public land'. Some farmers used rifles to defend their land.
Following this violence, even Durant discovered "that it was not good policy to take all the timber  ". Building problems took a turn for the worse in the harsh Nebraska winter.
With the subsidies in mind, Dodge had no time to waste and laid track on ice and snow anyway.
Needless to say, the line had to be rebuilt in the spring. Not surprisingly some observers estimated the actual building cost at almost three times what it should have been .
When East Meets West: The Last Spike of the Transcontinental Railroad
In the spring ofthe UP came out of the long Wyoming winter and began laying track west of Cheyenne. General Jack Casement's work train was lengthened to eighty cars, which now included a bakery car, a bath car, a complete feed store and saddle shop, additional kitchen, dining, and bunk cars, a combined telegraph and payroll car, and a butcher's car.
The butcher's car was kept filled with fresh beef from a cattle herd that was driven alongside the work train each day. Occasionally a newspaper that followed the Hell on Wheels towns would operate temporarily from one of the cars, publishing whenever there was enough news concerning events along the way.
- The Pacific Railway
- The Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads
- The Railroads and the West
For protection in case of Indian attacks, the Casements installed about a thousand rifles in the ceilings of the cars. Extra protection was guaranteed by the railroad's good friend General Sherman, who dispatched five thousand infantrymen and cavalrymen deployed at public expense from Cheyenne to the Salt Lake Valley . The Indian attacks caused the loss of hundreds of lives and further ran up the cost of building.
A Brief History of the Pacific Railway - The Transcontinental Railroad
The Cheyenne and the Sioux assaulted the road throughout Nebraska and Wyoming; they stole horses, damaged track, and scalped workmen along the way. Pacific coast with one or more of the railroads of the nation's eastern trunk line rail systems operating between the Missouri or Mississippi Rivers and the U.Modern Marvels - Transcontinental Railroads
The first concrete plan for a transcontinental railroad in the United States was presented to Congress by Asa Whitney in Its construction was made possible by the US government under Pacific Railroad Acts of, and First Transcontinental Railroad The world's First Transcontinental Railroad was built between and to join the eastern and western halves of the United States.
Begun just before the American Civil Warits construction was considered to be one of the greatest American technological feats of the 19th century.
Known as the "Pacific Railroad" when it opened, this served as a vital link for trade, commerce, and travel and opened up vast regions of the North American heartland for settlement.
Shipping and commerce could thrive away from navigable watercourses for the first time since the beginning of the nation. Much of this route, especially on the Sierra grade west of Reno, Nevada, is currently used by Amtrak's California Zephyralthough some parts have been rerouted. It replaced most of the far slower and more hazardous stagecoach lines and wagon trains. The number of emigrants taking the Oregon and California Trails declined dramatically.