East Meets West: First Transcontinental Railroad 1869

August 31, 2021

Once upon a time, a trip from the east coast of the United States to California was an arduous journey. It required weeks of travel through inhospitable grasslands and deserts, over treacherous mountains and dangerous rivers. The only other option was to sail by boat all the way around the South American continent. 

The ceremony to drive the golden spike connecting the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads. (Colorized.png)

Beginning in the 1830s, the railroad was the fastest, most modern mode of transportation. Within a few decades, the push was on to link the east with the west via a transcontinental railroad. In these colorized photographs, we can see the construction of the railroad that would finally connect both coasts. 

The California Gold Rush

The discovery of gold in California led to a rush of settlers. (gia.edu)

We can really thank the discovery of gold in California for the rush of settlers to the region beginning in 1849. Never before in the history of the United States had there been such a migration of people from one area to another. Cities, such as San Francisco, sprang up as a result. The growth of business and industry in the west necessitated the speedier transportation of goods and products. The railroad was the best viable option.