Some 15,000 people are expected to gather Friday May 10th at a remote spot in the Utah desert, to mark a pivotal moment in the US’s history. This was when the final spikes were hammered into the ground 150 years ago, to mark the joining together of the Transcontinental rail line across the country, which led to the US’s rapid development and expansion nationwide.
It triggered a famous telegraph that announced the railway’s completion, which set off celebrations around the nation. The two railway lines met at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1868, with locomotives meeting nose-to-nose to signify the joining of the tracks. The bells at Independence Hall in Philadelphia rang in celebration as a hundred guns were fired in New York and American flags were hung in cities, AP reported.
The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 united a nation fresh from the traumas of the Civil War, and which was geographically separated by wide expanses of desert, mountains and forests.
The completed railway of nearly 1,800 miles (2,900 kilometres) dramatically shortened cross-county travel from as long as six months in covered wagons and stagecoaches, to about ten days by railway, and served as a unifying moment for the nation. And populations and cities began to boom along the tracks of the railway.
“It psychologically and symbolically bound the country together,” said Brad Westwood, Utah’s senior public historian.