When East Meets West: The Last Spike of the Transcontinental Railroad | Mental Floss
When East Meets West: The Last Spike of the Transcontinental Railroad . The two companies involved were the Union Pacific and Central. the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads meet in Promontory, Utah The actual building of the railroad would have to wait even longer. However, the Union Pacific had no chance to attempt to beat that record from where the CPRR and UPRR rails would meet at Promontory.
However, the original date of May 8 had to be postponed for two days because of bad weather and a labor dispute on the Union Pacific side. The trains carrying the railroads' officials were drawn by Union Pacific's No.
The Central Pacific had originally chosen their no. On May 10,  the Jupiter and were drawn up face-to-face on Promontory Summit, separated only by the width of a single tie. It is unknown how many people attended the event; estimates run from as low as to as many as 3, government and railroad officials and track workers.
Historians thought that the lack of Chinese workers seen in the official portrait was due to racism, but their absence may well have been simply the result of poor timing: The more famous A.
Russell photograph could not include the Chinese workers photographed earlier participating in the joining of the rails ceremony, because at the moment the famous photo was being taken it was after the conclusion of the ceremony and the Chinese workers were away from the two locomotives to dine at J.
Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts. The last laurel tie was destroyed in fires caused by the San Francisco earthquake. DeMille for the film Union Pacific It was held aloft in the scene commemorating the actual event, although a brass prop was used for the hammering sequence. In the meantime, the first uninterrupted coast-to-coast railroad was completed in August at Strasburg, Coloradowith the completion of the Denver extension of the Kansas Pacific Railway.
Later use[ edit ] Promontory Summit in the s. Promontory was the site of Promontory City during and shortly after the construction of the transcontinental railroad. Promontory Station had a CP station agent and telegraph operatora Chinese section gang, and gravel train crew. Most were employees of the CP railroad. The track was realigned, a roundhouse and turntable were built, and a freight depot and locomotive yard were added.
It also gained extensive support facilities for workers, including a railroad eating stop, engine helper station, and quarters for the Chinese section crew. At the turn of the 20th century, wheat farmers had begun to change the landscape around Promontory with farms and families. Sometimes they shipped in wood, other times they used the fragile cottonwood found in the Platte River Valley. Often, though, they solved their problem by passing it on to others. The UP simply paid good wages to tie-cutters and daily bonuses for ties received.
Thus crowds of tie-cutters invaded Nebraska to cut trees wherever they were found, and deliver freshly cut ties right up to the UP line. The UP leaders conveniently argued that, since most of Nebraska was unsurveyed, farmers in the way were therefore squatters and held no right to any trees on this 'public land'. Some farmers used rifles to defend their land.
Following this violence, even Durant discovered "that it was not good policy to take all the timber  ". Building problems took a turn for the worse in the harsh Nebraska winter. With the subsidies in mind, Dodge had no time to waste and laid track on ice and snow anyway. Needless to say, the line had to be rebuilt in the spring. Not surprisingly some observers estimated the actual building cost at almost three times what it should have been .
In the spring ofthe UP came out of the long Wyoming winter and began laying track west of Cheyenne. General Jack Casement's work train was lengthened to eighty cars, which now included a bakery car, a bath car, a complete feed store and saddle shop, additional kitchen, dining, and bunk cars, a combined telegraph and payroll car, and a butcher's car.
The butcher's car was kept filled with fresh beef from a cattle herd that was driven alongside the work train each day. Occasionally a newspaper that followed the Hell on Wheels towns would operate temporarily from one of the cars, publishing whenever there was enough news concerning events along the way.
For protection in case of Indian attacks, the Casements installed about a thousand rifles in the ceilings of the cars. Extra protection was guaranteed by the railroad's good friend General Sherman, who dispatched five thousand infantrymen and cavalrymen deployed at public expense from Cheyenne to the Salt Lake Valley .
The Indian attacks caused the loss of hundreds of lives and further ran up the cost of building. The Cheyenne and the Sioux assaulted the road throughout Nebraska and Wyoming; they stole horses, damaged track, and scalped workmen along the way.
When East Meets West: The Last Spike of the Transcontinental Railroad
The government paid the costs of sending extra troops along the line to help protect it. But after they left, the graders, tie-setters, track-layers, and bolters often had to work in teams with half of them standing guard and the other half working. In some cases, such as the Plum Creek massacre in Nebraska, the UP attorney admitted his line was negligent.
It had sent workingmen into areas known for the presence of hostile Indians .
Central Pacific Railroad - Wikipedia
To avoid such conflicts, Central Pacific superintendent James Strobridge offered some of the Indians employment and then signed a special treaty with the Paiutes and Shoshones.
Both male and female Indians worked alongside the Chinese, "with nonchalance and ease", and one observer reported that the women usually outdid the men in handling crowbars and sledgehammers . But no matter how hard he drove his men, by the end of it became obvious that the rival Union Pacific was going to win the great race into Utah.
It would probably have tracks laid to the key city of Ogden before the Central Pacific could emerge from the Promontory range north of Great Salt Lake. A feeling of excitement developed throughout America as it became apparent that the long-dreamed-of transcontinental railroad, which had been planned for completion during the nation's centennial celebration ofwould be joined in the new year ofseven years ahead of schedule.