May 9, 1869

Rails Reach Promontory Summit

A month earlier, Congress passed a joint resolution naming Promontory Summit the place “at which rails shall meet and form one continuous line.” By early May, Union Pacific crews had laid the final track from Corinne, Utah, to the Summit. Railroad officials, workers and citizens alike were ready for a celebration, but it would have to wait a little longer. Wet weather, a washed-out bridge and a revolt by unpaid UP railroad workers who threatened to kidnap Thomas Durant (a scheme possibly orchestrated by Durant himself) postponed the ceremony a few extra days.

Event Media

Many of those who built the Union Pacific were Army veterans and Irish immigrants, who performed strenuous physical labor. A payroll receipt for January 1868 shows work for "bridge abutments" earned a laborer three dollars a day.

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.