Transcontinental Railroad Completed

May 9, 1869

The Golden Spike, the final spike need to complete the Pacific Railroad, was hammered in at Promontory Point near Ogden, Utah.

The Golden Spike, the final spike need to complete the Pacific Railroad, was hammered in at Promontory Point near Ogden, Utah.

The Pacific Railroad Act was signed by President Abraham Lincoln July 1, 1862, and decreed that a railroad should be built to cross the continent, connecting Omaha, Nebraska with Sacramento, California. It took more than a year to assemble the manpower to take up the task. Then, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads raced toward each, crossing dry prairie and high mountains, fighting extreme weather and hostile Native Americans.


By Congressional degree, the two railways were to meet in a flat area near the town of Ogden, Utah. On the big day, two locomotives pulling cars filled with dignitaries – one from the east and one from the west – met for a ceremony. The rails were secured to the final tie by two silver, one silver and gold, and one gold spike.

The completion of the first transcontinental railroad was a remarkable engineering achievement. It also marked the end of an era for the western frontier. The changes brought by the railroads had a profound affect on commerce and settlement.