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New exhibit to celebrate the builders of the First Transcontinental Railroad!


This month the sounds of train whistles and the puffs of steam engines will fill the air in Utah, celebrating 150 years since the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad. We here at the L. Tom Perry Special Collections also wish to do our part in acknowledging this important historical event and its impact on Utah and the American West. Along with the current exhibit “Since the Golden Spike: 150 years of Utah railroad history” on display in our main gallery, we are pleased announce a new smaller exhibit titled “Road to Promontory: Planning and Building the Pacific Railroad.”  This exhibit showcases the amazing engineering and building feats it took to complete the First Transcontinental Railroad (aka Pacific Railroad) in 1869.

A focus of this exhibit is not only what was accomplished by the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads, but how, including the contribution of those, like the Chinese, Irish, and other minority groups, who have gotten little recognition over the past 150 years. This exhibit also acknowledges the impact the railroad had on this land’s native people. While the railroad allowed for safer travel to and through the American West, and boosted economic opportunity, it also spelled the eventual demise of Native Americans and their way of living. To best honor the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, it is important to recognize all sides of the story and all who were involved or effected in its construction.

Also shown are examples of various routes that were proposed for the Pacific Railroad, including an original map and several others viewable digitally on an iPad.  There are also handouts with lists of selected events to celebrate the anniversary in general, as well as events focusing on honoring the Chinese railroad workers. For other events , visit: https://spike150.org/events/.

This exhibit will be on display in the Entrance Lobby to Special Collections until the end of May 2019. If you are looking for ways to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the completion of the TCRR this month, this is a perfect place to start. You may even see a “golden spike”!


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