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July 1, 1862

Lincoln Signs Union Pacific Charter

Long an advocate for a rail line that would extend all the way to the Pacific, former railroad attorney and now President Abraham Lincoln realized his dream when he signed the Pacific Railway Act of 1862. The Central Pacific Railroad of California, which had been chartered in 1861, was authorized to build a line east from Sacramento. At the same time, the Act chartered The Union Pacific Railroad Company to build west from the Missouri River. The original legislation granted each railroad 6,400 acres and up to $48,000 in government bonds for each mile it completed. The UP deadline for completion: July 1, 1874.

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Some portions of the Pacific Railway Act of 1862 were changed, expanded or repealed in subsequent Acts.

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.