Profile America -- Friday, May 10th. This is the anniversary of an event in 1869 at Promontory Summit, Utah that symbolized the linking of America's east and west. In the ceremony, a golden spike was driven to join tracks of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railways. Celebrated as completing the transcontinental railroad, the event actually joined rail lines from Omaha to Sacramento. But the occasion did usher in the golden age of the nation's railroads, which enjoyed a nearly century-long monopoly on moving freight and passengers linking thousands of cities and towns in the country. Today, even with competition from cars, trucks, airlines and pipelines, U.S. railroads carry over 27 million passengers a year and move more than 1.5 trillion tons of freight. Profile America is in its 17th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.
Statistical Abstract of the United States, t. 1122