The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad was a transformative moment in the history of the United States. Thanks to the support of the Union Pacific Foundation and several other donors, the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library is able to make some of our rarest items available in digital format.
We've divided the history of the Transcontinental Railroad project into several sub-headings:
A Project for a Railroad to the Pacific by Asa Whitney
Address of Mr. A. Whitney, before the Legislature of Pennsylvania by Asa Whitney
Pacific Railroad: Report of Theodore Judah by Theodore Judah
The Union Pacific
This section covers material from the Union Pacific's portion of the project starting in Omaha, Nebraska to Promontory Summit, Utah.
List of Corporators of the Union Pacific Railroad
Report on the Organization and Proceedings of the Union Pacific Railroad Company.
Union Pacific R. R. Views by Andrew J. Russell
Report of Peter A. Dey, Engineer in Charge of Preliminary Surveys 1864
Message of the President of the United States March 11, 1864
Report of the Consulting Engineer on the Location between Omaha City and Platte Valley, 1865
Letter of the Secretary of the Interior January 22, 1866.
Papers Relating to the Central Branch, 1867
Message from the President of the United States January 9, 1868
Letter from the Secretary of the Interior communicating in compliance with a resolution of the Senate of the 14th instant, the report of Jesse L. Williams, esq, the government director of the Union Pacific Railroad on the condition of said railroad, 1868.
Troops on the Union Pacific Railroad 1868
Message of the President of the United States March 15, 1869
Letter of the Secretary of the Interior February 3, 1869
Union Pacific Railroad Timetable to Take Effect May 10, 1869
The Central Pacific
This section covers material from the Central Pacific's portion of the project starting in Sacramento, California to Promontory Summit, Utah.
Railroad Communication with the Pacific, with an Account of the Central Pacific Railroad, 1867
By-Laws of the Central Pacific Railroad Company of California
Report of the Chief Engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad Company 1861
Report of the Chief Engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad Company 1862
Report of the Chief Engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad Company 1863
Report of the Chief Engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad Company 1864
Report of the Chief Engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad Company 1865
The Golden Spike
This section covers the events of May 10, 1869 and how they were reported by contemporary sources.
The American Railroad Journal May 15, 1869 page 559
The St. Louis Missouri Republican May 11, 1869 page 2
The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad was memorialized several times up to and including the centennial year of 1969. This section showcases some of the earlier celebrations.
History of the Union Pacific Railroad-1919 Edition for 50th Anniversary of the Golden Spike
75 Years of Progress-Historical Sketch of the Southern Pacific
History of the Southern Pacific-1932
John W. Barriger III's Trip to the Golden Spike Centennial in 1969
From Lampo Junction to Rozel The Archaeological History of the Transcontinental Railroad Across the Promontory Mountains, Utah
The Transcontinental Railroad; General Histories:
Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad by David Haward Bain.
The Union Pacific Railroad:
Union Pacific (3 volumes) by Maury Klein.
How we Built the Union Pacific Railroad by Grenville M. Dodge
The Central Pacific Railroad:
Sunset Limited: The Southern Pacific Railroad and the Development of the American West, 1850-1930. by Richard J. Orsi
The Big Four; the story of Huntington, Stanford, Hopkins and Crocker, and of the building of the Central Pacific by Oscar Lewis
History of the Promontory Site:
The Un-Driving of the Golden Spike by Jeff Terry, Thornton H. Waite and James J. Reisdorff.