Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

January 4, 2013
Western construction of the transcontinental railroad began 150 years ago

LS TRAIN DEPOT MURAL.JPGSacramento has the distinction of being the western terminus of the transcontinental railroad. 150 years ago the Central Pacific began its race with the Union Pacific to link this nation by rail.

To commemorate the start of that monumental effort, the State Railroad Museum will debut a new sign at Front and K Sts next Tuesday. An afternoon program will follow that features three speakers discussing the significance of Sacramento as CP's starting point:

1:30 p.m.
William Burg, local author and historian: "Sacramento's Victory," will explain how and why Sacramento became the western terminus.

2:30 p.m.
Dr. Richard Orsi, author and professor emeritus of history at California State University, Hayward: "Rising Above" includes a film and discussion on how the Central Pacific Railroad's construction helped hold back the flood waters of the Sacramento River.

4 p.m.
Kyle K. Wyatt, curator of history and technology at the California State Railroad Museum: "Dreamers Wanted" will address how the U.S. grappled with locating a suitable route and why Sacramento was ultimately chosen.

The speakers program is free and open to the public with museum admission. However space in the hall is limited to the first 135 attendees.

What: Sesquicentennial Celebration of the Western Starting Point of the Transcontinental Railroad
Where: California State Railroad Museum, Front and K Sts., Old Sacramento
When: Jan. 8, 12:30 p.m. (new sign debut)
Cost: Regular museum admission: $10 adults; $5 youths ages 6-17; children ages 5 and under free.
For more info: (916) 445-6645 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: A mural depicts the celebration of Jan. 8, 1863 when California Governor Leland Stanford turned a ceremonial shovelful of earth to mark the starting point for the Central Pacific Railroad. 2000 Sacramento Bee photograph by Lezlie Sterling

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About Sac History Happenings

California and Sacramento have a long, rich, vibrant history. And our region is blessed with an abundance of historical resources maintained by museums, libraries, archives and societies. This blog aims to alert readers to the latest developments in local/state historical education and research.

Send tips concerning upcoming exhibits, tours, lectures and meetings, as well as new books, magazine articles and online collections to the blog's contributors.

The Contributors:

Michael Dolgushkin

Michael Dolgushkin is Manuscript Librarian at the California State Library History Section. He is co-author of San Francisco's California Street Cable Cars and is a frequent contributor to the California State Library Foundation Bulletin. Contact him at

Amanda Graham

Amanda Graham is a Certified Archivist working in the Sacramento Room of the Sacramento Public Library. She earned a BS in History from Southern Oregon University and a MS in Information Studies with an emphasis in archives from The University of Texas at Austin. Contact her at

Pete basofin

Pete Basofin is Director of Editorial Research at The Sacramento Bee. He previously worked at The St. Petersburg Times and Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune. Contact him at

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