It is almost the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, where the final golden spike was driven at Promontory Summit, Utah, that connected the Union Pacific Railroad to the Southern Pacific railroad.
The first and largest of its kind that reined king for years, the Overland Route, as it was called, traversed some of the most inhospitable terrain, connected the country and became the backbone of industrialization. Connecting San Francisco, California, and Omaha, Nebraska, the Overland Route stretched over 1,912 miles at its May 10, 1869 completion. It took seven years to build, at a cost of $50,000,000 in 1863 (a little over a billion dollars today).
In 2019, Union Pacific is celebrating the 150th anniversary of this monumental event in Ogden, Utah, just a few miles from Promontory Summit, in what is now the modern routing of the Overland Route. On May 10, 2019, Union Pacific’s ever-growing heritage steam fleet, the No. 844, 3985 “Challenger” and the currently being rebuilt 4014 “Big Boy”, will meet nose to nose.
While Overlanding may have originated elsewhere, this historic event is what set the wheels in motion for the exploration of the United States and is a defining moment in the spirit of America’s culture. It still traverses some of the most desolate and wild portions of our country.
If you are interested in attending the celebration, mark your calendars now and start planning your route. Follow along on the history and rebuild of these giant machines on Union Pacific’s event website.