Union Pacific’s “Great Race to Promontory” Website

The Union Pacific Railroad has produced a website entitled “Great Race to Promontory” as part of their extensive celebration of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad nearly one hundred fifty years ago. Here is a link to the site: http://www.up.com/goldenspike/index.html.

On the website’s opening page you are offered a choice of starting points to begin your journey as you follow the construction of the first transcontinental railroad during the 1860s. It makes no difference which end you choose, you will end up at Promontory Summit, Utah, where the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific joined on May 10, 1869. After you reach the end of one journey be sure to go to the other starting point to make a complete tour. A master map appears at the top of the journey identifying each stop which contains photos and explanations. You can jump to any location along the route by clicking on a button on this map.

I noticed two errors in the text of the website, and I question the labeling of one photo.

In the introduction to the beginning of the Union Pacific half of the journey, the text states the Union Pacific as ” . . . crossing the continental divide at Sherman Summit on April 5, 1868.” Sherman Summit is not on the continental divide, but it is the highest point either of the railroads had to reach in their construction. Sherman Summit is at the crest of the Laramie Mountains. The Union Pacific does cross the continental divide in Wyoming–in fact crossing it twice because of the Great Divide Basin. One crossing is a few miles west of Rawlings, and the other is several miles east of Rock Springs (those being the two closest points to the divide crossings that are included in the website’s journey). Will Braddock makes all of this clear in Bear Claws, The Iron Horse Chronicles–Book Two.

In the Laramie, Wyoming, entry, the website states that Wyoming became a territory in 1869. In fact, Wyoming became a territory on July 25, 1868. Will Braddock discusses this important date with General Grenville Dodge in Bear Claws.

I question the caption for the photograph in the Elko, Nevada, entry. The photo is dated 1913, but the locomotive shown is not suitable for that late date. The engine appears to be a wood-burning, diamond-stacked, model that would have been phased out by 1913.

Never mind my nitpicking these minor points. The website is a fascinating way to follow the building of what is often called the greatest engineering feat of the nineteen century. Plan to spend an hour or so enjoying the journey. It is extensive and educational.

Of course, you can enjoy the thrill of being a part of this adventure by reading all three books in The Iron Horsed Chronicles. Eagle Talons and Bear Claws are currently available for purchase, and Golden Spike, the final book in the trilogy, which will be released by Five Star Publishing on July 19, 2017, can be preordered, by clicking on either the Robert Lee Murphy at Amazon or Barnes & Noble links in the sidebar.

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