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Union Pacific

Central Pacific



1850 First Pacific Railroad Bill was introduced by Senator Benton of Missouri; Nine separate routes were surveyed during 1853 and 1854

1850 First oil lamps used for night railway travel

1851 (Fall) Telegraph first used for train dispatching - Erie Railroad

5/3/1854 Nebraska Territory created

1857 First refrigerated load of meat shipped from Chicago

1858 Overland Stage begins operation - from St. Louis to San Francisco in 30 days ($200 fare)

1860 First gaslight lamps used for night railway travel

4/3/1860 Pony Express begins when first relay rider leaves St. Joseph MO with 49 letters- lasts only 19 months

10/21/1861 First transcontinental telegraph message sent - between San 861Francisco and Washington DC

1862 First mail sorting car put in service - Hannibal to St. Joseph MO

7/1/1862 Lincoln signs Pacific Railway Act into law, giving the UP a 400 foot right of way and 5 alternating sections of land per mile extending to either side of the right of way

7/1/1862 Union Pacific Railroad & Telegraph Co. created by the Pacific Rwy Act - to follow the "construction standards of the B&O"

1863 First viable rail labor union formed - the Brotherhood of the Footboard

1/8/1863 Central Pacific first breaks ground for the building of the railway

7/1863 Tracklaying begins at Omaha for the building of the Union Pacific

9/1863 Union Pacific RR-Eastern Division (later the Kansas Pacific after 1868) builds first section of line - Kansas City to Wyandotte

10/29/1863 Union Pacific Rail Road organized in Boston

12/2/1863 First earth turned in Omaha for the building of the Union Pacific

1864 Warehouse on the Missouri River is one of the first buildings to use corrugated metal as a building material

3/1864 Preliminary grading of the UP line out of Omaha begins

1865 UP builds its first Burnettizing tie plant in Omaha

1865 UP finishes first 40 miles of track and reaches Fremont NE

1865 UP standards committee meets to specify standards for track, rolling stock, etc. (min radius 400', grades not exceeding 116' per mile in mountains and 30' per mile in Nebraska)

1865 (Spring) First rail for the UP arrives in Omaha

7/2/1865 The Steamboat 'Colorado' delivers the first locomotive to the UP at Omaha, the 'Major General Sherman'; The engine was first tested on July 21 on the two miles of track then laid

7/10/1865 First rail is laid on the UP in Omaha, using 50 pound wrought iron rail; Until cabooses became available, the last car in construction trains carried a canvas tarpaulin for the protection of the crew

7/10/1865 When the first rail is laid on the UP, the nearest connecting railroad was 140 miles away in Des Moines

10/6/1865 Fifteen miles of track had been laid, and the UP was in 65 Papillion NE

1866 Durant organizes The Great Pacific Railway Excursion, taking 250 bigwigs 275 miles west on the UP

1866 UP completes construction to North Platte by the end of the year

1866 UP lays 260 miles of track

1866 UP reaches Kearney NE and first regularly scheduled passenger (August service begins with mixed trains)

1866 UP reaches North Platte, 268 miles from Omaha; At this time, (Fall) there are only 16 locomotives on the UP. In early 1867, the first all-passenger trains begin operation, including Pullman sleepers

1/1866 UP reaches Fremont NE

7/1/1866 United States Express Company begins operating express service on the UP; The American Express Company, later the Holiday Overland & Express Company, and Wells Fargo & Company, also used the UP until September 1869

10/6/1866 UP reaches the 100th Meridian - 207 miles from Omaha; An excursion travels to the Meridian on October 22, consisting of 3 baggage cars and 6 first class passenger cars, including Durant's private car (the ex-Lincoln car) and the UP director's car

1867 George Westinghouse patents the air brake

1867 Refrigerator car first developed

1867 UP completes construction through Borie WY by the end of the year

1867 UP lays 240 miles of track, including the ascent up Sherman Hill

1867 (Fall) UP reaches Cheyenne

1/7/1867 Cedar Rapids & Missouri River Railroad (C&NW) arrives at Council Bluffs and builds a 3 mile line to a Missouri River ferry ramp

12/1867 Masonry foundation laid for the Dale Creek bridge

12/26/1867 First UP train to cross the Missouri River on track laid on an 'ice bridge' over the frozen river before a permanent bridge was built; Only freight trains used these ice bridges

1868 Automatic coupler patented by Confederate veteran Major Eli H. Janney

1868 In 1868 and 1869, photographer Andrew Russell lives in UP construction camps, taking & selling photos

1868 UP completes construction almost to Echo UT by the end of the year

1868 Union Pacific-Eastern Division renamed the Kansas Pacific

1/1868 Pullman Pacific Car Company created to operate sleeping cars over the UP; UP owned just over half the shares, with the others being held by Pullman and Andrew Carnegie

4/21/1868 Rails laid across the Dale Creek bridge

5/9/1868 Track arrives at Laramie

5/21/1868 UP contracts with Brigham Young to build the roadbed and grade from Echo Summit to the Salt Lake

11/1868 UP takes delivery of the #119 from Rogers Locomotive & Machine Works

12/4/1868 Track arrives in Evanston

1869 In 1868 and 1869, photographer Andrew Russell lives in UP construction camps, taking & selling photos

1869 UP builds 555 miles of track from Jan 1 through May 10

1869 UP builds snow fences in Wyoming after line was blocked by snow for 3 weeks (UP had no snow sheds)

1/22/1869 Rails reach the 90' tall "1000 Mile Tree"

1/23/1869 George Westinghouse applies for a patent on the air brake

3/8/1869 UP operates first train to reach Ogden UT

4/8/1869 UP's Dodge and CP Huntington meet at Samuel Hooper's house in Washington DC to negotiate a meeting point

4/9/1869 "Treaty of Hooper's House" signed in the Hooper parlor, setting the meeting point as "the summit of Promontory Point"

4/10/1869 Congress passes a resolution approving the Treaty of Hooper's House terms

4/29/1869 CP is 14 miles from Promontory, and lays 10 miles and 200' of track in one day

4/30/1869 CP reaches Promontory Summit, while UP is still 6 miles away

5/8/1869 Original date scheduled for the last spike ceremony - postponed by floods in Weber Canyon and workmen taking Durant hostage for unpaid wages

5/8/1869 UP reaches Promontory Summit

5/10/1869 Passengers transfer between UP and CP at Promontory

5/10/1869 Promontory Point meeting; "Done" transmitted by telegraph at 12:47 pm. Construction has taken 3 years, 6 months and 10 days