What Can We Do? Part Two

Posted 9 months ago by John Hankey
I’m going to come at this question from a different direction. Yes—the 150th Anniversary of the First Transcontinental Railroad is a significant event in American and Transportation History. And we may lament the lack of general interest and formal celebrations outside of the Union Pacific and the major railroad heritage institutions. We should support and appreciate their considerable efforts. But why do so many of us still think that someone else should be in charge, or organize ...

A Year Out, What Can We Do?

Posted 10 months ago by John Hankey
We are a year out from the “official” Sesquicentennial of the connection at Promontory Summit, and probably about 18 months from the close of the “Sesqui Season.” By 2020, I don’t think anyone will be thinking about the Pacific Railroad, and we will be looking forward to whatever it is we might look forward to. 2027 will be the Bicentennial of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and I predict there will be at least three dozen people for whom that will be a significan...

Voices From the Past

Posted 10 months ago by John Hankey
What would you say if I told you that there were people alive today who heard firsthand stories of the construction and operation of the Pacific Railroad ? The mid-19th century seems like the dim, distant past. It really isn’t. Technically it may be six or seven generations, but that is a statistical measure. It is the space of perhaps three lived lives, and much closer to us than we imagine. I firmly believe that there are older folks among us who listened to their elders describe what ...

The Significance of the Transcontinental Railroad

Posted 10 months ago by John Hankey
The United States changed on the morning of May 10, 1869. Around noon local time, a few battle-hardened men laid the final few rails to create a physical link between the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads at Promontory Summit in Utah. The Transcontinental Railroad was by no means finished—it would take years to make it a fully-functional main line. But the rails had been joined. This was never a sure thing, any more than the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House in Vi...

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