Building the World

Golden Spike Driven Today


The driving of the final spike, from Golden Spike National Historic Site, at

Today is the anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. The last spike was driven into the ground on May 10, 1869, the news of which was telegraphed around the nation near simultaneously! It is a little known, but important, fact that telegraph lines were placed beneath the rail tracks, creating one of the first large communications networks. The United States previously held the world record in rail tracks, but now China is deemed the leader as that nation builds a rail network uniting major cities with high speed rail including maglev. When the United States Transcontinental Railroad opened for business, cross country travel formerly taking six months by covered wagon could now be accomplished in 10 days. Commerce increased rapidly; by 1880, $50 million in cargo traveled across the 1800 miles of rail. In the future, will the United States join Canada and Mexico in a vision of high speed rail, perhaps as a celebration of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)? Could the PanAmerican highway become the route of a new transportation corridor combining state-of-the-art rail, road, and bikeway?

To read the original New York Times report, please see:

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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