Saturday, May 10, 2014
MAY 10 = The Trans-Continental Railroad is Completed
- The San Francisco Daily Alto Californian , May 10, 1869.
On today's date, May 10, 1869 the final touch was put on the Trans Continental Railroad at Promontory Point in Utah, and our nation was at long last linked from the West Coast to the East Coast. No longer was the bounteous land of California and the Pacific Northwest a distant Garden of Eden to be reached only after a long, arduous journey of six months or more. It was now accessible by train in a week. The United States was now a country that truly reached from sea to shining sea... the old order of things as the Alto Californian put it had indeed passed away forever.
Getting to California - Literally a Killer Commute
California and the Pacific Northwest. This ground was rich enough to grow fruits and vegetables in abundance, and lumber was in limitless forests. And GOLD had been discovered there in 1848. This had made California THE land of plenty in the United States. Thousands had set their minds and hearts upon reaching this fertile and RICH land. But how to get there? There were only three ways, and all of them were
A Herculean Labor and the Men Who Made it Happen
Linking this nation into one land was a Herculean labor requiring men on both ends of the work force to perform superhuman tasks. And in America we had an entrepreneurial system perfectly suited for the job. There were visionaries who saw a nation linked east to west, and surveyed land. Men like Theodore D. Judah (below), who started the
May 10, 1869 - the Great (?) Ceremony
There was of course a great race between the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific to see who could lay the most track and therefore rake in the most profit from this great feat of engineering. But it all came to an end in May of 1869. The ceremonial hammering in of the last spikes linking the nation up at last was set for May 8, but various delays of guests arriving put it off until May 10. One of those late guests was Dr. Thomas C. Durant (below), head of the Union Pacific.* He was on his way, but was apparently kidnapped in
But before all of this happened, the last of the old stage coaches brought in the last U.S. Mail Delivery to be carried thus. This was indeed placed on a Central Pacific Mail Car for delivery to the coast. And with this small gesture the real change had occurred. Time and space had been closed for all time... "the old order of things passed away forever."
* = For those of you who are fans of the series "Hell On Wheels" on the AMC TV network (as I definitely am!), yes this is indeed the character portrayed with such skill by the actor Colm Meany (below). It seems that he is portrayed on that show pretty accurately!!
"Nothing Like It in the World" by Stephen E. Ambrose, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2000.
"The Railroaders", Time Life Books, "the Old West" Series, by Keith Wheeler and the Editors of Time Life Books, Time Life Books, New York, 1973.