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May 10, 1869

The Transcontinental Railroad was completed. The first spikes were driven in 1863 during the Civil War, and over the following 6 year period, over 2,000 miles of track was laid entirely by hand over rugged terrain including the Sierra Nevada mountains. The Central Pacific Company built East from Sacramento, while the Union Pacific built West from Omaha, Nebraska. Both teams tried to beat the other’s record for track laying. The Central Pacific concocted a plan to lay 10 miles in a day. Eight Irish tracklayers put down 3,520 rails, while other workers laid 25,800 ties and drove 28,160 spikes in a single day. On May 10, 1869, at Promontory Summit, Utah, a golden spike was hammered into the final tie.

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