The Transcontinental Railroad
Updated: May 7, 2019
Before 1869, traveling from New York City to San Francisco took four to six months, and it was a difficult and highly dangerous trip. Today cross-country travel is much faster and safer, but the cities are more dangerous, so nobody bothers. Nonetheless, President Abraham Lincoln decided that the US needed a stronger connection with California, since just playing “catch” wasn’t cutting it anymore. It didn’t help matters that Americans were only interested in California for its gold, and certainly not its personality. Two rail companies started at either end of the proposed route and worked towards each other like the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp. The rails finally joined at Promontory Summit, Utah. In the final ceremony, a golden spike was driven into the ties, and two trains met nose-to-nose on the same track (which alerted everyone to an enormous flaw in the project).