Skip to main content

Golden Spike (1869): Topics in Chronicling America

In 1869, the Pacific and Union railroad tracks were joined by a golden spike, completing the Trancontinental Railroad. This guide provides access to material related to "Golden Spike" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.

Introduction

Cartoon of the linking of the East and West. May 18, 1944. Roanoke Rapids Herald (Roanoke, Rapids, NC), Image 6. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

The crowd cheers as Governor Leland Stanford drives the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit, Utah to complete the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. More than one thousand people, including immigrant laborers, gathered to witness the joining of the Pacific and Union tracks, which provided the United States with coast-to-coast transportation and communication. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

Timeline

July 1, 1862 Congress passes Pacific Railroad Bill, authorizing construction of a continuous cross-country railroad and telegraph line.
May 8, 1869 Hammering of last spike delayed due to weather.
May 10, 1869 Governor Leland Stanford drives in golden spike to unite Central and Union Pacific tracks in Promontory Summit, Utah. More than 1,000 people attend ceremony.
May 1869 Cities across the country commemorate completion of transcontinental railroad project with parades, galas, and fireworks.