Economy & Politics

The Golden Nail: How the Railroad Changed North America

Four years have passed since the American Civil War when the workers of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific met on May 10, 1869 in Promontory on the Utah plateau. During a solemn ceremony, the railway workers drive the last symbolic nail into the tracks. It’s made of solid gold. From that day on, there is a railway line in North America that runs across the continent. Locomotives such as the “Antilope” built in Boston can now pull freight and passenger wagons non-stop from Sacramento in California to Omaha in Missouri. And vice versa, of course.

The importance of this symbolic act to the United States cannot be overestimated. A reporter who was there


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