Completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States in Promontory Point, Utah
May 10, 2024
An event every year that begins at 12:00 am on day 10 of May, repeating indefinitely
On this day in 1869, the first transcontinental railroad in the United States was completed in Promontory Point, Utah, where a golden spike was driven to connect the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railways. This major step in infrastructure helped to connect the country and enabled faster and cheaper travel. 🚂🚃🚃
A ceremony, centered on the last spike being driven, was publicized in media across the country. Leland Stanford, president of Central Pacific, knocked the famous gold spike in. To the amusement of the audience (particularly the rail workers), Stanford missed it on his first swing.
Did you know? Roughly 80% of the workers that completed the monumental project were Chinese immigrants.
The work was grueling – tunneling through mountains and hills with dynamite was particularly dangerous and time-consuming.
Though they were paid less than other workers, the immigrants’ speed and craftsmanship were unmatched. Near the end of the project, a crew consisting mainly of Chinese workers laid a record-breaking 10 miles of track in one day.
East and West Shaking Hands at Laying Last Rail, Andrew J. Russell, 1869