Central Pacific Railroad

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United States  >  Migration  >  Railroads  >  Central Pacific Railroad

In 1869 the Central Pacific Railroad out of Sacramento, California, and the Union Pacific Railroad out of Omaha, Nebraska linked tracks in the Golden Spike ceremony at Promontroy Summit, Utah to form the first transcontinental railroad service in the United States.[1] Settlers were attracted to communities near railroads because they provided access to markets. Railroads encouraged settlement along their routes to help increase the need for their service. If an ancestor settled near a railroad, you may be able to trace their place of origin back to another place along the tracks.

Historical Background

In order to bind the nation together from California to the eastern states visionaries proposed a railroad between the west and east coasts of the United States. During the Civil War Congress authorized the building of this railroad. Congress offered land grants along the tracks in a checkerboard pattern as an incentive to the builders. The company that could build the most track would receive the most land.

Starting in 1863 in Sacramento, California, the Central Pacific laid their first tracks. They slowly started their eastward race toward the oncoming Union Pacific railroad by building to Roseville, California in 1864. In 1865 they reached Colfax, and in 1866 Cisco, California. In 1868 they laid 306 miles of track across Nevada, and set a world record of ten miles in twelve hours in 1869.[2]


The Central Pacific Railrad from west to east went through:

During most of its history, the Central Pacific tracks through Nevada to Ogden, Utah were controlled by the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Settlers and Records





  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Central Pacific Railroad," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Central_Pacific_Railroad&oldid=299761457 (accessed 6 July 2009); Wikipedia contributors, "Union Pacific Railroad," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Union_Pacific_Railroad&oldid=298717292 (accessed 6 July 2009); Wikipedia contributors, "Golden spike," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Golden_spike&oldid=290578008 (accessed 6 July 2009), and Wikipedia contributors, "Promontory, Utah," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Promontory,_Utah&oldid=297584143 (accessed 6 July 2009).
  2. "Central Pacific Railroad" in American Western History Musuems at http://www.linecamp.com/museums/americanwest/western_clubs/central_pacific_railroad/central_pacific_railroad.html (accessed 10 July 2009).