On May 10, 1869, a golden spike joined the Central Pacific’s and the Union Pacific’s tracks, linking the nation with two continuous bands of steel, “and things would never be the same.”
To lay 1,800 miles of track over prairies, deserts, and mountains would be “one of the greatest and most daring adventures the nation had ever seen,” and across that land the “Anvil Chorus” sang, 21 million swings of the sledges in six years of laying tracks. With lively prose and striking photographs, Sandler tells the amazing story of engineering marvels, extraordinary courage, and sheer determination. When the railroad was finished, the country could be crossed in less than a week instead of six months, and the nation was united. Well-chosen archival photographs and excellent maps help to tell the tale, though too many pages of dense text are unbroken by visuals. Sandler celebrates the phenomenal achievement without losing sight of those who did not benefit from it: Chinese workers faced discrimination, and the railroad was but the latest “encroachment of white society upon the Indians.” A fascinating epilogue relates what later happened to each of the key players introduced in the narrative, and a thorough timeline serves as a summary of important events.
A dramatic story related in dramatic fashion. (Nonfiction. 10-14)