On this day in 1869, the presidents of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads joined their tracks in Promontory, Utah, with a ceremonial spike.
This event signaled the beginning of transcontinental railroad travel in the United States. No more stagecoaches or wagon trains were needed as West and East united and civilization gradually subdued the last wild places of America.
Leading the enterprise were four principal investors, whose names are prominent in California: Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, Charles Crocker and Mark Hopkins.
Eastern and Western businessmen and leaders knew in the 1830s that the country needed to be connected. Not until 1853 did Congress appropriate funds to survey several routes for the transcontinental railroad. The actual construction took even longer because of tensions between the Northern and Southern states.