American Transcontinental Railroad's 150th anniversary celebrated

Transcontinental Railroad
Andrew J. Russell

Talk about the mother of all transportation projects: The 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad was celebrated  at Promontory Summit in Utah last Friday.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao gave a keynote address at the anniversary of the Golden Spike Ceremony, marking the completion of the first railroad line.

Chao attended the ceremony to commemorate the contributions that railroads and railroad workers — especially Chinese laborers — made to the economic transformation of the country spurred by the transcontinental railroad. Building from the East, the Union Pacific hired many Irish immigrants to lay track across the Great Plains. Building from the West, the Central Pacific Railroad hired 15,000 workers, most of whom were Chinese laborers.  

Within three years of its completion, trains could travel from New York City to San Francisco in a week. Before its completion of the railroad, travelers spent up to six months traveling by ship or covered wagon.




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