It authorized creation of two companies, the Central Pacific in the west and the Union Pacific in the mid-west, to build the railroad.  In perhaps the world's first live mass-media event, the hammers and spike were wired to the telegraph line so that each hammer stroke would be heard as a click at telegraph stations nationwideâthe hammer strokes were missed, so the clicks were sent by the telegraph operator. government. The original Transcontinental Railroad route was the combined efforts of two railroads: the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific. , One of the most prominent champions of the central route railroad was Asa Whitney. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company. We spent a couple hours and really enjoyed our time at the museum. In August 1870, the Kansas Pacific drove the last spike connecting to the Denver Pacific line at Strasburg, Colorado and the first true Atlantic to Pacific United States railroad was completed. Surveying for possible routes by the military, as discussed with regard to G. K. Warren, began at the impetus of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis. In the 1999 Will Smith film, Wild Wild West, the joining ceremony is the setting of an assassination attempt on then U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant by the film's antagonist Dr. Arliss Loveless. The primary incentive had been getting the subsidies, which meant that upgrades of all kinds were routinely required in the following years. Sturgus, Chief, Lands and Railroad Division, Office of the Secretary, US Department of the Interior, to US Rep. William Lawrence (R-OH8), April 28, 1876, Speech by Rep. William A. Piper (D-CA1) in the US House of Representatives, April 8, 1876, Woodward, C. Vann "Reunion and Reaction: The Compromise of 1877 and the End of Reconstruction". At the same time, the Act chartered the Union Pacific Railroad Company to build west from the Missouri River. Thomas Durant is a regular character in the series and is portrayed by actor Colm Meaney. They initially invested $1,500 each and formed a board of directors. In 1862, the Pacific Railroad Act chartered the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific Railroad Companies, tasking them with building a transcontinental railroad that would link the United States from east to west. [verification needed] The total area of the land grants to the Union Pacific and Central Pacific was larger than the area of the state of Texas: federal government land grants totaled about 130,000,000 acres, and state government land grants totaled about 50,000,000 acres.  Construction superintendent Durant repeatedly failed to pay the wages agreed upon. At 8,247 feet (2,514 m), Evans/Sherman's pass is the highest point reached on the transcontinental railroad. If they failed to repay the bonds, all remaining railroad property, including trains and tracks, would revert to the U.S. Most of the capital investment needed to build the railroad was generated by selling government-guaranteed bonds (granted per mile of completed track) to interested investors. In 1957, Congress authorized the Golden Spike National Historic Site. It was built across the shallow but wide North Platte resting on piles driven by steam pile drivers. The Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) built 1,085 mi (1,746 km) from the road's eastern terminus at the Missouri River settlements of Council Bluffs and Omaha, Nebraska westward to Promontory Summit.. Supplies and workers were brought up to the work locations by wagon teams and work on several different sections proceeded simultaneously. The sheds were built with two sides and a steep peaked roof, mostly of locally cut hewn timber and round logs. Although the railroad later went bankrupt once the easy placer gold deposits around Placerville, California were depleted, Judah was convinced that a properly financed railroad could pass from Sacramento through the Sierra Nevada mountains to reach the Great Basin and hook up with rail lines coming from the East. Thirty-six additional locomotives were built and coming west, and twenty-eight more were under construction. The railroad experimented by hiring local emigrant Chinese as manual laborers, many of whom were escaping the poverty and terrors of the war in the Sze Yup districts in the Pearl River Delta of Guangdong province in China. , The report failed however to include detailed topographic maps of potential routes needed to estimate the feasibility, cost and select the best route. In advance of the track layers, surveyors consulting with engineers determined where the track would go. Many of the original telegraph lines were abandoned as the telegraph business was consolidated with the railroad telegraph lines.. These eventually succeeded at keeping the tracks clear for all but a few days of the year.. , Many of the civil engineers and surveyors who were hired by the Union Pacific had been employed during the American Civil War to repair and operate the over 2,000 miles (3,200 km) of railroad line the U.S. Military Railroad controlled by the end of the war. The river froze in the winter, and the ferries were replaced by sleighs. The first Central Pacific sleeper, the "Silver Palace Sleeping Car", arrived at Sacramento on June 8, 1868.. Paddle steamers linked Sacramento to the cities and their harbor facilities in the San Francisco Bay until late 1869, when the CPRR completed and opened the Western Pacific portion (which the CPRR had acquired control of in 1867â68 [N 2][N 3]) to Alameda first and then to Oakland. The Union Pacific would not connect Omaha to Council Bluffs until completing the Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge in 1872.. On one memorable occasion, not far from Promontory, the Central Pacific crews organized an army of workers and five train loads of construction material, and laid 10 miles (16 km) of track on a prepared rail bed in one dayâ-a record that still stands today. Durant gained control of the company after buying out employee Herbert Hoxie for $10,000. Then he circulated rumors that the CR&M had plans to connect to the Union Pacific, at which point he began buying back the M&M stock at depressed prices. The original legislation granted each railroad 6,400 acres and up to $48,000 in government bonds for … The Central Pacific broke ground on January 8, 1863. The 1993 children's book Ten Mile Day by Mary Ann Fraser tells the story of the record setting push by the Central Pacific in which they set a record by laying 10 miles (16 km) of track in a single day on April 28, 1869, to settle a $10,000 bet. " The latter company was later implicated in a far-reaching scandal, described later. Due to the lack of transportation alternatives from the manufacturing centers on the east coast, virtually all of their tools and machinery including rails, railroad switches, railroad turntables, freight and passenger cars, and steam locomotives were transported first by train to east coast ports.  Some Union Pacific officers declined to pay the Mormons all of the agreed upon construction costs of the work through Weber Canyon, and beyond, claiming Union Pacific poverty despite the millions they had extracted through the CrÃ©dit Mobilier of America scandal. â, Six years after the groundbreaking, laborers of the Central Pacific Railroad from the west and the Union Pacific Railroad from the east met at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory.  Most of the black and white workers were paid $30 per month and given food and lodging. After completion, this became another major eastâwest railroad. The road's rail terminus was moved two months later to the Oakland Long Wharf, about a mile to the north, when its expansion was completed and opened for passengers on November 8, 1869. This changed, however, as the work entered Indian-held lands, as the railroad was a violation of Native American treaties with the United States. These works had started production in 1864 after the U.S. Civil War had cut off shipments of black powder from the East to the mining and railroad industry of California and Nevada. The Union Pacific initially took over the Southern Pacific in 1901 but was forced by the U.S. Supreme Court to divest it because of monopoly concerns. , While the federal legislation for the Union Pacific required that no partner was to own more than 10 percent of the stock, the Union Pacific had problems selling its stock. Thanks to the support of the Union Pacific Foundation and several other donors, the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library is able to make some of our rarest items available in digital format. : China Intercontinental Press, 2006), p. 36. Tunnels 1â5 and Tunnel 13 of the original 1860s tunnels on Track 1 of the Sierra grade remain in use today, while additional new tunnels were later driven when the grade was double tracked over the first quarter of the twentieth century. The route down the eastern Sierras was done on the south side of Donner Lake with a series of switchbacks carved into the mountain. Temporary tracks were laid around it and Tunnels 3 (508 feet or 155 metres), 4 (297 feet or 91 metres) and 5 (579 feet or 176 metres) to continue work on the tracks west of the tunnels. In 1865, each railroad set its own time to minimize scheduling errors. When the last spike was driven, the rail network was not yet connected to the Atlantic or Pacific but merely connected Omaha to Sacramento. Sidings had to be built to allow trains to pass. In the Utah Territory, the railroad once again diverted from the main emigrant trails to cross the Wasatch Mountains and went down the rugged Echo Canyon (Summit County, Utah) and Weber River canyon. Water for the steam locomotives was provided by wells, springs, or pipelines to nearby water sources. These derricks were later replaced with steam hoists as work progressed. Evans Pass was located between what would become the new "railroad" towns of Cheyenne and Laramie. Under the direction of the Department of War, the Pacific Railroad Surveys were conducted from 1853 through 1855. War parties began to raid the moving labor camps that followed the progress of the line.  Three routes were considered: Once the central route was chosen, it was immediately obvious that the western terminus should be Sacramento. In Truckee canyon, five Howe truss bridges had to be built. Survey teams were put out to produce detailed contour maps of the options on the different routes. The discovery and detailed map survey with profiles and elevations of this route over the Sierra Nevada is credited to Theodore Judah, chief engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad until his death in 1863. Kristiana Gregory's 1999 book The Great Railroad Race (part of the "Dear America" series) is written as the fictional diary of Libby West, who chronicles the end of the railroad construction and the excitement which engulfed the country at the time. Carts pulled by mules, and horses were about the only labor saving devices available then. The black powder was provided by the California Powder Works near Santa Cruz, California. As soon as the ceremonial "Last Spike" had been replaced by an ordinary iron spike, a message was transmitted to both the East Coast and West Coast that simply read, "DONE." The explosive technique often blew most of the potential fill material down the hillside, making it unavailable for fill. In 1852, Judah was chief engineer for the newly formed Sacramento Valley Railroad, the first railroad built west of the Mississippi River. This routing change was made because the Track 2 and Tunnel 41 Summit crossing is far easier and less expensive to maintain and keep open in the harsh Sierra winters.. The tunnels were all made with the new dangerous nitroglycerine explosive, which expedited work but caused some fatal accidents. Vista points on Interstate 80 through California's Truckee Canyon provide a panoramic view of many miles of the original Central Pacific line and of the snow sheds which made winter train travel safe and practical. Through solid granite, the summit tunnel progressed at a rate of only about 0.98 feet (0.30 m) per day per face as it was being worked by three eight-hour shifts of workers, hand drilling holes with a rock drill and hammer, filling them with black powder and trying to blast the granite loose. Collis Huntington, a Sacramento hardware merchant, heard Judah's presentation about the railroad at the St. Charles Hotel in November 1860. One advantage of working on tunnels in winter was that tunnel work could often proceed since the work was nearly all "inside". Temporary, "Hell on wheels" towns, made mostly of canvas tents, accompanied the railroad as construction headed west.. On June 18, 1868, the Central Pacific reached Reno, Nevada, after completing 132 miles (212 km) of railroad up and over the Sierras from Sacramento, California. In the west, the four men heading the Central Pacific chose a simple name for their company, the "Contract and Finance Company." In order to keep the higher portions of the Sierra grade open in the winter, 37 miles (60 km) of timber snow sheds were built between Blue CaÃ±on and Truckee in addition to utilizing snowplows pushed by locomotives, as well as manual shovelling. [N 5], Congress agreed to support the idea. Nearly all other tunnels were worked on both tunnel faces and met in the middle. Union Pacific needed coal to fuel its steam locomotives on the almost treeless plains across Nebraska and Wyoming. On June 4, 1876, an express train called the Transcontinental Express arrived in San Francisco via the First Transcontinental Railroad only 83 hours and 39 minutes after it had left New York City. , In 1856, Judah wrote a 13,000-word proposal in support of a Pacific railroad and distributed it to Cabinet secretaries, congressmen and other influential people. In the 1860s there was no heavy equipment that could be used to make these cuts or haul it away to make the fills. The financial incentives and bonds would hopefully cover most of the initial capital investment needed to build the railroad. Clement taking the upper division from Blue CaÃ±on to Truckee and Cadwalader taking the lower division from Truckee to the Nevada border. Water towers had to be built for refilling the water tanks on the engines, and provision made to keep them full. At the same time, another gang would distribute telegraph poles and wire along the grade, while the cooks prepared dinner and the clerks busied themselves with accounts, records, using the telegraph line to relay requests for more materials and supplies or communicate with supervisors. , Durant manipulated market prices on his stocks by spreading rumors about which railroads he had an interest in were being considered for connection with the Union Pacific. The railroad opened for through traffic between Sacramento and Omaha on May 10, 1869, when CPRR President Leland Stanford ceremonially tapped the gold "Last Spike" (later often referred to as the "Golden Spike") with a silver hammer at Promontory Summit. January 10, 2000. Zhang Juguo (n.p. Together, they formed an association to solicit subscriptions from local merchants and businessmen to support their proposed railroad. In the ensuing Congressional investigation, it was recommended that Ames be expelled from Congress, but this was reduced to a censure and Ames died within three months. The Central Pacific Railroad has been completed to Truckee Pass. Construction got a slow start in Omaha, Nebraska, eastern terminus of the Union Pacific Railroad. For the transcontinental railroad, the builders adopted what is now known as the standard gauge.. This "new" route had never become an emigrant route because it lacked the water and grass to feed the emigrants' oxen and mules. In June 1845, he led a team along part of the proposed route to assess its feasibility.. Kerr, K. Austin, Chapter 17: Whitney, Asa "A project for a railroad to the Pacific". Within a few years, nearly all railroads converted to steel rails. Specialized bridging, explosive and tunneling teams were assigned to their specialized jobs. Cheyenne later became Wyoming's largest city and the capital of the new state of Wyoming. 119: Striking symbols of one of the most important periods in American history", "Eureka County, Yucca Mountain Existing Transportation Corridor Study", "Man wants Utah railroad moment to get the Lego treatment", Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum, "I Hear the Locomotives: The Impact of the Transcontinental Railroad", Golden Spike National Historical Site in Utah, Pacific Railway Act and related resources at the Library of Congress, Chinese-American Contribution to transcontinental railroad, Linda Hall Library's Transcontinental Railroad educational site with free, full-text access to 19th century American railroad periodicals, Newspaper articles and clippings about the Transcontinental Railroad at Newspapers.com, Abandoned route of the transcontinental railroad in Utah (with map), Omaha Rail and Commerce Historic District, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=First_Transcontinental_Railroad&oldid=991853255, History of rail transportation in the United States, History of the United States (1865â1918), Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles with unsourced statements from October 2016, Wikipedia articles needing clarification from September 2020, Articles with unsourced statements from February 2020, Wikipedia articles needing factual verification from October 2016, Articles needing additional references from May 2016, All articles needing additional references, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, A northern route roughly along the Missouri River through present-day northern, Duran, Xavier, "The First U.S. Transcontinental Railroad: Expected Profits and Government Intervention,", This page was last edited on 2 December 2020, at 03:52. As they progressed higher in the mountains, winter snowstorms and a shortage of reliable labor compounded the problems. He equipped several railroad cars to serve as portable bunkhouses for the workers and gathered men and supplies to push the railroad rapidly west. Security measures were further strengthened, and progress on the railroad continued. Track ballast was put between the ties as they progressed. In September 1859, Judah was chosen to be the accredited lobbyist for the Pacific Railroad Convention, which indeed approved his plan to survey, finance and engineer the road. The construction of the Transcontinental Railroad provides the setting for the AMC television series Hell on Wheels. Chinese laborers were also crucial in the construction of 15 tunnels along the railroad's line through the Sierra Nevada mountains. The loosened rock would be collected and hauled out of the tunnel for use in a fill area or as roadbed, or else dumped over the side as waste. The Kansas Pacific became part of the Union Pacific in 1880. Camps were moved when the railhead moved a significant distance. These were about 32 feet (10 m) high and 16 feet (5 m) wide. By April 1864 the jubilance of groundbreaking had long ago faded into the ether. , Judah returned to California in 1860. The Union Pacific was chartered by Congress, through the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862, to construct a portion of the first transcontinental line, starting in Omaha and proceeding westward through the Platte River Valley. When the railroad reached Reno, it had the majority of all Nevada freight shipments, and the price of goods in Nevada dropped significantly as the freight charges to Nevada dropped significantly. The route along the North Platte was also further from Denver, Colorado, and went across difficult terrain, while a railroad connection to that City was already being planned for and surveyed. Now Lincoln was responsible for choosing the eastern terminus, and he relied on Durant's counsel.  Almost all of the roadbed work had to be done manually, using shovels, picks, axes, two-wheeled dump carts, wheelbarrows, ropes, scrapers, etc., with initially only black powder available for blasting. The Central Pacific laid 690 miles (1,110 km) of track, starting in Sacramento, California, in 1863 and continuing over the rugged 7,000-foot (2,100 m) Sierra Nevada mountains at Donner Pass into the new state of Nevada. The Silent Spikes: Chinese Laborers and the Construction of North American Railroads, comp. As a result of the Panic of 1873, Gould was able to pick up bargains, among them the control of the Union Pacific Railroad and Western Union.. At first they tried plowing the road with special snowplows mounted on their steam engines. A snapshot of workers in late 1865 showed about 3,000 Chinese and 1,700 white workers employed on the railroad. Crews could then start work in advance of the railroad reaching these locations. In February 1860, Iowa Representative Samuel Curtis introduced a bill to fund the railroad. On September 6, 1869, the first transcontinental rail passengers arrived at the Pacific Railroad's original western terminus on the east side of San Francisco Bay at the Alameda Terminal, where they transferred to the steamer Alameda for transport across the Bay to San Francisco. , To allow the companies to raise additional capital, Congress granted the railroads a 200-foot (61 m) right-of-way corridor, lands for additional facilities like sidings and maintenance yards. Later, as the railroad started moving long distances every few days, some railroad cars had bunkhouses built in them that moved with the workersâthe Union Pacific had used this technique since 1866. Denver was now firmly on track to becoming the largest city and the future capital of Colorado. Army. In June 1864, the Central Pacific railroad entrepreneurs opened Dutch Flat and Donner Lake Wagon Road (DFDLWR). Union Pacific Railroad Timeline Explore a list of critical dates that tell the story of the railroad's 150+ year history. This in turn connected to Kansas Pacific trains going from Kansas City to Denver, which in turn had built the Denver Pacific Railway connecting to the Union Pacific. 2,500 men and six material trains were employed in this work, which was completed in 1869. A book review: Mormon workers on Union Pacific transcontinental tracks, The Use of Black Powder and Nitroglycerine on the Transcontinental Railroad, Constructing the Central Pacific Railroad. The building of the railway is covered by the 2004 BBC documentary series Seven Wonders of the Industrial World in episode 6, "The Line". Conservationists established more wildlife preserves, and the species slowly rebounded. Telegraph operators had to be hired to man each station to keep track of where the trains were so that trains could run in each direction on the available single track without interference or accidents. The emigrant trails were closed in winter. Feeder railroad lines were soon built to service these two and other cities and states along the route. 3, 6. The Central Pacific and Union Pacific raced to get as much track laid as possible, and the Central Pacific laid about 560 miles (900 km) of track from Reno to Promontory Summit in the one year before the Last Spike was driven on May 10, 1869. Judah returned to Washington in December 1859. Under Durant's guidance, CrÃ©dit Mobilier was charging Union Pacific often twice or more the customary cost for track work (thus in effect paying himself to build the railroad). Horace Hamilton Minkler, track foreman for the Central Pacific, laid the last rail and tie before the Last Spike was driven. The actual track-laying gang would then lay rails on the previously laid ties positioned on the roadbed, drive the spikes, and bolt the fishplate bars to each rail. The railroad tracks, spikes, telegraph wire, locomotives, railroad cars, supplies etc. 4014 and the Living Legend No. Many of these steam engines, railroad cars, and other machinery were shipped dismantled and had to be reassembled. In 1869, the Kansas Pacific Railway started building the Hannibal Bridge, a swing bridge across the Missouri River between Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas which connected railroads on both sides of the Missouri while still allowing passage of paddle steamers on the river. In 1867 the CPRR raised their wage to $35 (equivalent to $640 in 2019) per month after a strike.  In the following six months, the last leg from Sacramento to San Francisco Bay was completed.  Dale Creek Bridge was 650 feet (200 m) long and 125 feet (38 m) above Dale Creek. Some tunnels took almost a year to finish and the Summit Tunnel, the longest, took almost two years. The railroad gained about 3,200 feet (980 m) in the 220 miles (350 km) climb to Cheyenne from North Platte, Nebraskaâabout 15 feet per mile (2.8 m/km)âa very gentle slope of less than one degree average. The Mormon and Union Pacific rail work was joined in the area of the present-day border between Utah and Wyoming. In areas where the original line has been bypassed and abandoned, primarily due to the Lucin Cutoff re-route in Utah, the original road grade is still obvious, as are numerous cuts and fills, especially the Big Fill a few miles east of Promontory. In 2002, construction workers for the Union Pacific Railroad found the wheel on left while digging beneath the railroad's bridge over the Gasconade River. The Truckee River, which drains Lake Tahoe, had already found and scoured out the best route across the Carson Range of mountains east of the Sierras. The Central Pacific got a direct route to San Francisco when it was merged with the Southern Pacific Railroad to create the Southern Pacific Company in 1885.  Wooden timbers for railroad ties, trestles, bridges, firewood, and telegraph poles were harvested in California and transported to the project site.  Another act to supplement the first was passed in 1864. The main character in The Claim (2000) is a surveyor for the Central Pacific Railroad, and the film is partially about the efforts of a frontier mayor to have the railroad routed through his town. Because this rail line currently operates in a directional running setup across most of Nevada, the California Zephyr will switch to the Central Corridor at either Winnemucca or Wells. Railroad website was created with generous support from the BNSF ( Burlington Northern Santa Fe ) Foundation and maintain,... Huge government subsidies, which meant that upgrades of all kinds were routinely required in area. 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