One hundred and fifty years ago this Sunday President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act of 1862, which simultaneously chartered the Union Pacific Railroad and directed it to build a transcontinental train route in conjunction with the existing Central Pacific Railroad. As every history student knows, the UP would lay track heading west from Omaha and the CP would work east starting in Sacramento (at the foot of I Street to be exact).
Today Union Pacific (successor to both the Southern Pacific and Central Pacific railroads) celebrates its sesquicentennial year with UP150.com, a well-endowed website filled with historical information and photos. Particularly useful is the UP Timeline, which begins with the 1862 charter and ends with the 150 anniversary. In between are milestones in the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad and subsequent mergers, acquisitions, expansions and technological innovations.
The company's main history site is a rich collection of interesting articles and images that includes documents, photo gallery and historical maps. The UP advertising posters are especially eye-catching.
PHOTO CREDIT: Portion of the mural painted in Sacramento's Amtrak Station that depicts the groundbreaking of the western portion of the Transcontinental Railroad on Jan. 8, 1863. 2000 Sacramento Bee photograph by Lezlie Sterling