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September 2, 1862

Commissioners Organize Union Pacific Railroad

At a meeting in Bryan Hall, the group elected William P. Ogden — who was the first mayor of Chicago — as Union Pacific’s first president and Henry V. Poor, editor of Railroad Journal, as its secretary. During the convention, the commissioners also published the company’s first stock offering, opening subscription books in several U.S. cities. However, only 20 shares of initial stock were sold. Investors simply had too many other attractive, less risky options to make easy money in the booming Civil War economy.

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As the Union Pacific commissioners focused on plans to forge ahead with their portion of the Transcontinental Railroad, the Civil War raged on in the East. The Battle of Antietam was fought on September 17, 1862. It was the first major Civil War conflict to take place in Northern territory and resulted in more than 20,000 casualties in one day. Promoted heavily by Theodore Judah, the engineer who plotted the Donner Pass route in 1860, Central Pacific held its first stockholders meeting in Sacramento on April 30, 1861. The railroad was incorporated on June 28.

In 2012, Union Pacific celebrates the shared stories that have shaped our country since 1862. To mark our 150th anniversary, we invite you to explore how the nation’s largest railroad came to be and how UP continues to build America with innovation and tenacity, touching the lives of nearly every citizen.