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Grolier Club Exhibitions

Westward the Star of Empire: The Transcontinental Railroad

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Alexander Gardner.
Across the Continent on the Kansas Pacific Railroad.

Washington, DC: Alexander Gardner, 1868.

The Kansas Pacific was an associated land grant railroad to the Union Pacific. While the UP was connecting to other lines at Omaha, Nebraska, the Kansas Pacific was starting at Kansas City, Missouri. Like the UP, the Kansas Pacific used photography to showcase its progress, and this is one image from a set that was created and printed for the railroad. Here we see an image of a work train on the line in the Kansas prairie.

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Union Pacific Railroad Co.
List of Corporators of the Union Pacific Railroad Co.

No publisher listed, 1862.

The Union Pacific Railroad, under the leadership of Dr. Thomas Durant, was in many ways the antithesis of Theodore Judah’s initial promotion of the Central Pacific. Where Judah made reasoned arguments, Durant wanted to show the Union Pacific’s strength through its leadership to give investors confidence in the project. One way to do that was with this list of founding corporators [sic], which was a who’s who of the business and political world.

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Union Pacific Railroad.
Timetable May 10, 1869.

Place of publication unspecified, 1869.

This is the first passenger timetable for the Union Pacific from Omaha to Promontory Summit, Utah, in effect the very day the line was ceremonially finished. This timetable would be accurate for only a short time. The route of the Transcontinental Railroad itself would change to move the connection point from Promontory to Ogden, Utah, and the original line over the summit would be removed in 1942.

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Rowland Hazard.
The Credit Mobilier of America: A Paper Read Before the Rhode Island Historical Society.

Providence: Sidney S. Rider, 1881.

Rowland G. Hazard was a Rhode Island industrialist and politician. He spent much of his final years in business dealing with the wreckage of the Credit Mobilier, which he wrote about in this paper. Credit Mobilier was the construction company of the Union Pacific and a vehicle for financial manipulation and bribery. When the scandal broke in 1872, it damaged the reputation of the Union Pacific, its officers, and members of the Grant Administration and Congress.

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Arthur P. Wood.
Diary for the Year 1869.

Arthur P. Wood was a civil engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad during the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad. He kept a diary of his time working in the field as a member of a survey team. The diary is open to May 10, 1869, the completion date of the line.


Author not listed.
Across the continent: excursion from Wilmington, Del., to San Francisco, Cal., October 6, 1869.

Salt Lake City: Telegraph Job Print, 1869.

After the Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869 it, and the journey by rail across the continent, became a tourist attraction on its own. This publication, a promotional publication for the Jackson and Sharp Passenger Cars as much as it is for the railroad, chronicles a trip from Omaha to Sacramento. This was just one of the many travel narratives that came out after the line was complete.

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Grenville Dodge.
Map of the Union Pacific Railroad:
Surveys of 1864, 65, 66, 67, 1868: from Missouri River to Humboldt Wells.

Place of publication unspecified, 1869.

This is a topographical map of the Union Pacific from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The map is interesting in that it shows all of the potential routes and profile of railroad lines between the two points that were investigated by Dodge and the railroad’s engineers. Most were blind alleys, but some had promise given enough engineering work. The challenge was to find the best route that could be economically built.

Westward the Star of Empire: The Transcontinental Railroad