Transcontinental Railroad

Golden Spike Ceremony - Transcontinental Railroad - Photo by Andrew J. RussellOn May 10, 1869, the Transcontinental Railroad was completed, connecting the East and the West and making the rapid growth of the country possible. The Last Spike, or the Golden Spike, was driven in Promontory, Utah, where the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads met.

It used to take months to get to California from New York, but with the railroad in place, it took only days. No longer did travelers have to brave the journey in wagon trains that made their way slowly through hostile terrain.

Even though Congress appropriated funds to survey possible routes in 1853, the actual start of the railroad’s construction didn’t occur until after the Civil War. Congress had selected the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific to build the railroad after the passage of the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862. In 1866, the Union Pacific began construction in Omaha, Nebraska, and the Central Pacific, in Sacramento, California.

The workers had to survive 12-hour work days, harsh winters and summers, and raids from Native Americans and outlaws. While the Union Pacific had mainly Civil War veterans of Irish descent, the Central Pacific had a large Chinese work force. They had to blast their way through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and it wasn’t unusual to lose whole crews in avalanches or explosions.

Enduring the ordeal, the workers managed to lay nearly 2,000 miles of track ahead of schedule and under budget. The impact of the Transcontinental Railroad was immediate: The United States saw rapid growth and expansion from sea to shining sea.

Current Titles in Our Catalog about the First Transcontinental Railroad

Below are the current titles that we have in our catalog that are tagged with “Transcontinental Railroad.” As our catalog changes, so will the titles listed below (if there aren’t any titles listed, they’ve all been sold). If you have titles you wish to have listed, please consider consigning with us.

Mini-Catalog for the First Transcontinental Railroad




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