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Trains meeting at Promontory Summit, Utah, 1869, on the completion of the first transcontinental railroad.

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Trains meeting at Promontory Summit, Utah, 1869, on the completion of the first transcontinental railroad.
The Andrew J. Russell Collection, the Oakland Museum of California

IN CONTEXT

This object appears in the following sections:


Work and Industry
American Railroads in the 20th Century — Introduction

Transportation in America before 1876:
Transportation in America before 1876 — A Century of Progress?


The first transcontinental railroad is completed
Currently on display
Not a part of the official Smithsonian Collection
This famous photo was taken moments after the completion of North America's first transcontinental rail line. On May 10, 1869, Leland Stanford, president of the Central Pacific Railroad Company and Thomas Clark Durant, Union Pacific Railroad Company vice president, drove the last spike at Promontory, Utah, linking the eastern railroad system to California. In six years, more than 20,000 workers-including many Chinese men, who were left out of this picture, Irish, and others-had laid down some 1,700 miles of track in the largest American civil-works project to that time.
Physical Description
photograph
Details
Date Made:
1869
Locations:
Utah
History
The first transcontinental railroad link was almost instantly celebrated around the nation because a telegraph wire was connected to the last rail spiked. When cities and towns received the news, cannons fired, church bells rang, locomotive whistles sounded. Fire alarms blared in celebration of the new continental connection. Chicago residents held a spontaneous parade. For many Americans, the new transcontinental link seemed to usher in a new era.

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