There, on May 10, 1869, the final tie was laid and the final spike--the "golden" spike--was driven in to create the Transcontinental Railroad. It was the meeting of the Central Pacific Railroad out of Sacramento, Calif., and the Union Pacific Railroad out of Omaha, Neb.
With that final spike, the railroad was completed, and for the first time, it was possible for a single train to cross (most of) the country.
"Two locomotives--Central Pacific's Jupiter and Union Pacific's No. 119--pulled up to the one rail gap left in the track," reads a National Park Service brochure. "After a golden spike was symbolically tapped, a final iron spike was driven to connect the railroads."
Union Pacific train No. 119, which met the Central Pacific's Jupiter at Promontory Summit, as Congress decreed the site be called. No. 119 had crossed 1,086 miles to get to the first-ever meeting point of the two railroads.
A head-on look at the Central Pacific Railroad's Jupiter, the first train from that railroad to meet up with track from the Union Pacific, a joining that formed the Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Summit in Utah.
According to a National Park Service ranger at the Golden Spike site, the workers from the Central Pacific used a superior quality tie to that of their counterparts with the Union Pacific.
Here, you can see the meeting of the two railroads and the different kinds of ties used. The theory is that the ties from the West were superior due to the prevalence there of saw mills and abundant lumber.
During the final weeks of the project to complete the Transcontinental Railroad, the crews working on each side competed to see who could lay the most track in a single day.
"In early April (1869), the Union Pacific laid 8.5 miles of track in one day," reads a National Park Service brochure. "The (Union Pacific) then bet the Central Pacific $10,000 that they could not better the record. On April 28, 1869, the CP won the bet!"