By Linda Thompson
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Additional resources for Building the Transcontinental Railroad
Arizona’s spike is at the New York Metropolitan Museum. The laurel tie was in the California Pacific’s San Francisco office when it burned to the ground in the earthquake and fire of 1906. On July 30, 1965, the Golden Spike National Historic Site was created near Promontory Summit. Two replicas of the locomotives Jupiter and No. 119 can be seen there, along with replicas of the historic spikes and hammer, and the ceremonial tie. The National Park Service holds reenactments of the Golden Spike Ceremony on May 10 every year.
As the two companies raced toward each other, they began building less carefully. In their haste, the bosses told themselves that everything could be fixed later. But a few years after the railroad’s completion, hundreds of miles of the new railroad had to be replaced. Poorly built rail joints, embankments, and trestles were collapsing. Sharp curves had to be straightened and rough grades reworked. All this work was done at the taxpayers’ expense. Construction of a railroad bridge over the Green River in 1868.
As the railroad crossed the Plains, Native Americans knew it would pose a great threat to their way of life. Unlike emigrants, who passed through their lands, the people brought by the railroad stayed and built towns. This invasion would destroy the buffalo and with it the entire Plains culture. So the Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and others struck back. General William Sherman in council with members of the Sioux. 30 The Sioux and Cheyenne attacked construction crews several times during 1867. They pulled up track, derailing a locomotive and killing its engineer and brakeman.