Railroad Worker Remembers the Day the Transcontinental Railroad was Finished

On the last day, only about 100 feet [of track] were laid, and everybody tried to have a hand in the work. I took a shovel. . and threw a shovel full of dirt on the ties just to tell about it afterward.

A special train from the west brought Sidney Dillon, General Dodge, T. C. Durant, John R. Duff, S. A. Seymour, [and] a lot of newspaper men. . . .

Another train made up at Ogden carried the band from Fort Douglas [and] the leading men of Utah Territory. . . .

California furnished the Golden Spike. Governor Tuttle of Nevada furnished one of silver. General Stanford . . . presented one of gold, silver, and iron from Arizona. The last tie was of California laurel.

When they came to drive the last spike, Governor Stanford, president of the Central Pacific, took the sledge, and the first time he struck he missed the spike and hit the rail.

What a howl went up! Irish, Chinese, Mexicans, and everybody yelled with delight. "He missed it. Yee." The engineers blew the whistles and rang their bells. Then Stanford tried it again and tapped the spike . . . [The] telegraph operators had fixed their instruments so that the tap was reported in all the offices east and west, and set bells to tapping in hundreds of towns and cities. . . .Then Vice President T. C. Durant of the Union Pacific took up the sledge and he missed the spike the first time. Then everybody slapped everybody else again and yelled, "He missed it too, yow!"

It was a great occasion, every one carried off souvenirs and there are enough splinters of the last tie in museums to make a good bonfire.

When the connection was finally made the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific engineers ran their engines up until the pilots touched. Then the engineers shook hands and had their pictures taken.