Transcontinental Railroad In A Nutshell On 10 May 1869, a final golden spike was hammered into the first American transcontinental railroad, a project that had cost hundreds of millions of dollars and required years of labor from tens of thousands of men. Connecting the Union Pacific (UP) with the Central Pacific (CP) was the single greatest feat of engineering in U.S. history, the culmination of dreaming, planning, building, and scamming on an unprecedented scale. The men who built the railroad lived one of the biggest stories of the nineteenth century, and their work would remake the American West, bind the country together economically and culturally, and redefine for many the very scope of human enterprise. The transcontinental railroad was a powerful symbol of American ambition and ability, and in a story that runs from the highs of the West's great mountain ranges to the lows of the century's biggest financial scandal , we can learn a lot about the nature of American progress
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