Spotlight on the transcontinental railroad

Snow plow at Cisco

The completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 marked an important milestone in the history of the United States with the joining of the populated east with the growing cities and towns of the west. Stanford University, with its connection to Leland Stanford and Timothy Hopkins, holds in its libraries an impressive array of materials related to this monumental achievement including the often overlooked contributions of the Chinese railroad workers. A new Spotlight exhibit, Transcontinental Railroad, pulls together this material to give an overview of the people and places that played a role in transforming the west.  

Included in this exhibit are: 

  • The Alfred A. Hart Collection of photographs
  • Oral histories of Chinese railroad worker families
  • Payroll records of the Central Pacific Railway Company (economic history of the Chinese workers)
  • Archaeology Network of the Chinese Railroad Worker History Project
  • Mapping the first transcontinental railroad (Esri StoryMap)
  • Pacific Railroad Surveys
  • Railroad maps from the David Rumsey Map Center

Many thanks to the contributors to this site including Daniel Hartwig, Andria Olson, Ben Stone, and Cathy Aster.