Union Pacific Lays First Rail
Three years after the Pacific Railroad Act took effect — and a year and a half after groundbreaking — Union Pacific finally laid its first rails. The mood that day was in direct contrast to the festive atmosphere of the gala celebration: no cheering crowds or brass bands. Most of the workmen had been laid off because there was no money to pay them. Progress on the railroad was slow and it took crews several weeks to lay the first mile.