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January 30, 1905

UP Gains Access to Los Angeles

A rail link from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles was highly prized in the late 19th century. Union Pacific owner E.H. Harriman and U.S. Senator William A. Clark of Montana, owner of the SPLA&SL, engaged in a head-to-head battle for rights to build in the Las Vegas Valley. Both railroads built lines west from Utah. Finally, they reached a deal: Clark could operate his railroad on UP’s lines; in return, UP received a 50 percent share in The Pedro. Crews completed construction of the rest of the route, and the Salt Lake-Los Angeles line opened on May 1, 1905.

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E.H. Harriman and William A. Clark actually reached a compromise for the railroad purchase two years earlier. They managed to keep the agreement a secret until October 1904, when news of the transaction was published in the UP annual report.

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.