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 Post subject: 150 Years Ago Today...
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2019 4:28 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 05, 2013 2:42 am
Posts: 1823
Location: Seattle, WA - Land of Coffee
I don't think any more words are necessary.


Ted Brumberg

 Post subject: Re: 150 Years Ago Today...
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2019 7:08 am 
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Joined: Thu May 05, 2016 6:30 pm
Posts: 213
Location: Illinois

Congratulations, Union Pacific!


"My train of thought derailed."

Heyworth Railroad Museum

 Post subject: Re: 150 Years Ago Today...
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2019 11:45 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3690
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
It's nearly impossible to imagine how difficult and dangerous cross country travel was. Overland treks took months, across deserts and up into high mountains, facing the possibilities of death from disease, hostile Native Americans, thirst, and starvation (most notoriously recounted in the tale of the Donner Party.) An all sea route was longer still, and meant sailing around the tip of South American into near Antarctic waters, some of the stormiest seas on earth and the graveyard of who knows how many ships and men. The shortest was was ship to Panama, a crossing of the Isthmus there, and another ship to California, but that meant also dealing with clouds of mosquitoes carrying malaria.

All that changed on May 10, 1869, with the driving of a gold spike at Promontory Summit, Utah. Travel that had taken months of great discomfort and danger was reduced to at most a couple of weeks in relative comfort and safety.

We would not be the country we are if this had not happened.

(Photo by the National Park Service)


 Post subject: Re: 150 Years Ago Today...
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2019 2:03 pm 

Joined: Sat May 07, 2016 1:12 am
Posts: 125
To get a mental idea of how difficult travel cross was before the railroad you just gotta ready up on the Donner Party. After the nation was stitched together with ribbons of rail, not just travel cross country, but our way of life changed drastically. The railroad showed every skeptic what it can and does do to better our lives. That is the legacy the railroad has. Sad that UP is the only North American railroad that honors that tradition. CSX has as colorful history if only they cared to take pride in it.

 Post subject: Re: 150 Years Ago Today...
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2019 2:40 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 5:10 pm
Posts: 1055
I remember this poem from my high school term paper on writer Bret Harte. He wasn't there that day, but he certainly knew about it.

Francis Bret Harte. 1839–1902

What the Engines Said

Opening of the Pacific Railroad

WHAT was it the Engines said,
Pilots touching,—head to head
Facing on the single track,
Half a world behind each back?
This is what the Engines said,
Unreported and unread.

With a prefatory screech,
In a florid Western speech,
Said the engine from the West,
"I am from Sierra's crest;
And, if altitude 's a test,
Why, I reckon, it 's confessed,
That I 've done my level best."

Said the Engine from the East,
"They who work best talk the least.
S'pose you whistle down your brakes;
What you 've done is no great shakes,—
Pretty fair,—but let our meeting
Be a different kind of greeting.
Let these folks with champagne stuffing,
Not their Engines, do the puffing.

"Listen! Where Atlantic beats
Shores of snow and summer heats;
Where the Indian autumn skies
Paint the woods with wampum dies,—
I have chased the flying sun,
Seeing all he looked upon,
Blessing all that he has blest,
Nursing in my iron breast
All his vivifying heat,
All his clouds about my crest;
And before my flying feet
Every shadow must retreat."

Said the Western Engine, "Phew!"
And a long, low whistle blew.
"Come, now, really that 's the oddest
Talk for one so very modest.
You brag of your East. You do?
Why, I bring the East to you!
All the Orient, all Cathay,
Find through me the shortest way;
And the sun you follow here
Rises in my hemisphere.
Really,—if one must be rude,—
Length, my friend, ain't longitude."
Said the Union: "Don't reflect, or
I 'll run over some Director."
Said the Central: "I 'm Pacific;
But, when riled, I 'm quite terrific.
Yet to-day we shall not quarrel,
Just to show these folks this moral,
How two Engines—in their vision—
Once have met without collision."

That is what the Engines said,
Unreported and unread;
Spoken slightly through the nose,
With a whistle at the close.

 Post subject: Re: 150 Years Ago Today...
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2019 3:29 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
Posts: 4222
Location: Maine
I was going to post Bret Harte's poem myself! Thank you.

"It's only impossible until it's done." -Nelson Mandela

 Post subject: Re: 150 Years Ago Today...
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2019 6:18 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:46 pm
Posts: 2126
Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
I sent this email to people I work with today:
-Telegraph message sent nationwide from Promontory Summit, Utah Territory, 2:47 PM, May 10, 1869

On this day, 150 years ago, the final spike in the transcontinental railroad was pounded into place near Promontory Summit, Utah Territory.
Though a “golden spike” has entered in legend as the final spike to be driven in the transcontinental railroad, the undersized gold spike was ceremonial and was never pounded into any railroad tie. A railroad worker actually hammered the final simple iron spike into a laurel tie to complete the railroad line from Omaha to Sacramento.
The primary gold spike is in the collection of Stanford University today.
The actual final spike has been lost to history, as was the hammer used to place it. The tie which took the final spike was lost in the earthquake and fire of 1906 in San Francisco. Both locomotives in the ceremony were scrapped in the 1910s.
The railroad line itself where the spike was driven was abandoned and the tracks were taken up in 1942 for a WW2 scrap drive, in favor of the massive bridge across the Great Salt Lake early in the 1900s.
After WW2 interest in the 1869 ceremony resurfaced and tracks were laid in their original location at the site of the final spike. Full sized replicas of both of the locomotives used in the 1869 ceremony were built in the 1960s and re-create the ceremony often in the original location.
Driving that ‘final’ spike on May 10, 1869 in Utah didn’t actually complete the first transcontinental railroad from coast to coast. When that spike was driven, neither Sacramento nor Omaha (at each end of the transcontinental railroad) was a seaport and no railroad connected Omaha to any East coast port. On that date, bridges had yet to be built across the San Joaquin River near Lathrop, California and across the Missouri River where it splits Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Omaha, Nebraska. The actual first coast-to-coast rail link was completed in August 1870 at Strasburg, Colorado, near the current site of the old Stapleton airport.
The site of the golden spike is in the utter middle of nowhere, so much so that rocket motors are tested for NASA right where you make the last turn on the road to go into the national park.

Lee Bishop

 Post subject: Re: 150 Years Ago Today...
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2019 9:33 pm 

Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 10:22 am
Posts: 540
From a local post:

The Lake Superior Railroad Museum gathered a group of folks today to help recreate the gold spike meeting of Union Pacific and Central Pacific 150 years ago. This photo shows the recreation, using DM&IR 193 and Soo 700 (sorry, 4014 was booked). This is also the 30th anniversary of the North Shore Scenic Railroad. What a great way to commemorate both anniversaries.

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