Ceremony at "Wedding of the Rails," May 10, 1869 at Promontory Point, Utah


President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railroad Act into law on July 1, 1862. The act gave two companies, the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad, responsibility for completing the transcontinental railroad and authorized extensive land grants and the issuance of 30-year government bonds to finance the undertaking. The Union Pacific was to lay track westward from a point near Omaha, Nebraska; the Central Pacific was to build eastward from Sacramento, California. The meeting point of the two lines, a matter of some significance relating to land grants and per-mile subsidies granted to the companies, was negotiated in Washington, DC, in April 1869 by Collis Huntington of the Central Pacific and Grenville Dodge of the Union Pacific. They agreed to join the tracks at Promontory Summit (also known as Promontory Point), Utah. Their agreement called for the transfer, for a price, of 47.5 miles (76.4 kilometers) of track east of that point from the Union Pacific to the Central Pacific, and for the building of a jointly operated terminal. The actual “wedding of the rails” took place on May 10, 1869.

Last updated: May 24, 2017