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Transcontinental Railroad Completed: May 10, 1869

Corinne, UT

The last spike, made of 17.6 carat gold, was driven at Promontory Point, Utah, uniting the Central Pacific (Sacramento) and Union Pacific (Omaha) railroads, creating the first transcontinental railroad. The transcontinental railroad was a joint public–private venture, with land grants made by the Lincoln Administration under the terms of the Pacific Railway Act of 1862 and accelerated the process of economic development in the West that was begun by the Homestead Act of the same year. By 1900, there were 193,346 miles of railroad track in the U.S. Railroad passenger miles per person peaked at 448 in 1919, declined to 256 in 1929 because of the automobile, and were overtaken by air passenger traffic in 1956.


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