This Day in History
The Golden Spike

On this day in 1869…

After 1830, railroad construction advanced with spectacular speed. By 1840, the new nation boasted 2,818 miles of track, by 1850 over 9,000, and by 1860 an astonishing 30,000 - three times the mileage of Britain. It was to be of historical importance that most of this growth was in the Old Northwest: by 1860, Ohio alone had almost 3,000 miles of track, and Illinois, under the stimulus of lavish land grants from the federal government, some 2,800. A few years later a new breed of financiers and entrepreneurs were flinging tracks across the continent. On May 10, 1869, amidst national rejoicing, the tracks of the Union Pacific, building west from Omaha, and the Central Pacific, building east from California, were joined with a golden spike. It was a symbol of a reunited Union, reunited now East and West as well as North and South.

June's Archived Features:

Monday June 1, 2020
Tuesday June 2, 2020
Wednesday June 3, 2020
Thursday June 4, 2020



All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.