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America's History in the Making

Resource Archive: Search Results

Completing the Transcontinental Railroad, 1869

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Andrew J. Russell, JOINING THE TRACKS FOR THE FIRST TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD, PROMONTORY, UTAH, TERR.(1869). Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration.

Creator Andrew J. Russell
Context The completion of transcontinental railroad was of great symbolic and practical importance, as it constituted a key event in the nation's economic development.
Audience The general public
Purpose To commemorate this occasion

Historical Significance

Businessmen had been lobbying Congress to subsidize a railroad stretching across the county since the 1840s, but not until the Republicans took power in 1861 did they find sufficient support. Eight years later the rails met near Ogden, Utah.

The railroad's completion reflected the nation's shifting political and social landscape. Republican businessmen, including some prominent Union officers, led the endeavor, which promised to move goods more quickly across the continent and to and from Asia. Many of the nation's growing numbers of immigrants labored on the project, including thousands of men from China who had given up on gold mining.

This image is a photograph taken during the 1869 ceremony.

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