The joining of the rails at Promontory Summit on May 10, 1869, marked the beginning of a new era for the nation, the West, and for Utah. These resources for teaching the Transcontinental Railroad explore this rich history and the many ways the railroad transformed life in Utah.
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An interactive website illustrating the journey through 46 communities profoundly impacted by the railroad.
This lesson plan has students assess the need for a transcontinental railroad in the 1860's. (Grades 6-12)
Experience the celebration at Promontory Summit honoring the 150th anniversary of the Golden Spike ceremony, which marked the 1869 completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in Utah.
Using a general map of U.S. railroads in 1878, students examine the geographic, political, and economic factors that influenced the growth of this network. (Grades K-12)
Grades K-5 and Grades 6-8
Lessons, activities and resources to help students discover the engineering triumphs that propelled westward expansion.
Students will examine a variety of documents that reference reasons why Americans living in the East migrated west of the Mississippi immediately before, during, and right after the Civil War. Documents cover the mining industry, new inventions used on the Plains, the growth of the railroad, the Homestead Act, and the Cattle Kingdom.
Students will analyze primary sources with an eye for cause-and-effect relationships.They will identify the roles of government policy and technological improvements in the settlement of the West, and explain their impact on Native Americans.
In this activity, students will use primary sources as historical evidence to determine if western expansion was worth it.
In this activity, students will examine the impact of westward expansion and settlement on Native American communities following the Civil War. Students will explore a variety of documents to get a sense of the issues faced by Native Americans due to settlement and U.S. Government Indian policy.
In this activity, students will explore changes that occurred in the United States in the greater context of the Civil War era. Students will gain an understanding of the simultaneous nature of these events and the multifaceted nature of American government during wartime.
Created by the Utah Division of State History Antiquities program, this story map offers historical context on how the construction of the railroad was such a watershed event for Utah and the American West. Produced in partnership with Spike150.
This issue of History Now is devoted to the impact of this most famous moment in American rail history: the joining of the East and the West by the transcontinental railroad. Gilder Lehrman proves lesson plans and images. Some materials require signing up for a free account.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad, What’sHerName Podcast has created two free downloadable audio tours of historic Ogden, Utah, in cooperation with the Weber County Heritage Foundation, Union Station, and the Weber State University Special Collections.
Spike 150 is an initiative of Utah’s Transcontinental Railroad 150th Celebration Commission. The Utah State Legislature and Governor Gary Herbert established the Commission in 2017.
Union Pacific railroad presents The 150th Anniversary of Driving the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit, Utah.
The Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project seeks to give a voice to the Chinese migrants whose labor on the Transcontinental Railroad helped to shape the physical and social landscape of the American West.
This Utah History To Go article provides many details about Promontory, the location where the transcontinental railroad was completed. (Utah History to Go is a Division of State History product.)
This feature from the Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum includes history, exhibits, and photographs.
The completion of the transcontinental railroad marked the dawn of Utah's rail age. This map from the Utah Division of State History illustrates the growth of Utah's railroads.
This interactive map allows you to explore several ways in which the United States experienced substantial growth between the years 1860–1890.
This article from the Utah History Encyclopedia describes the impact that all rail lines, not just the Transcontinental Line, had on Utah.
The Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE), using research and findings from the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford University, has created lessons for high school students.
In 1988 the State of Utah designated the Union Station in Ogden, Utah as the Utah State Railroad Museum to handle railroad artifacts.
This museum is located in Helper, Utah, which got its name because of the engines required to help the trains climb the steep grades to Soldier Summit.
Visit this historic site to view locomotive demonstrations and reenactments of the driving of the last spike ceremony. The website has good information too.
Visit the large exhibition starting January 2019 at any of it's four locations. A digital format, located at exhibits.usu.edu has lessons plans. You can also book a small version to visit your school.