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Trestle on Central Pacific Railroad
In 1869 the Central Pacific Railroad out of Sacramento, [[California Genealogy|Californi], and the Union Pacific Railroad out of Omaha, [[Nebraska Genealogy|Nebrask] linked tracks in the Golden Spik ceremony at [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promontory_Summit Promontroy Summi, Utah to form the first [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcontinental_railroad transcontinental railroad servic in the [[United States Genealogy|United State.[1] [2] [3] [4] Settlers were attracted to communities near railroads because they provided access to markets. Railroads encouraged settlement along their routes to help increase the need for their service. If an ancestor settled near a railroad, you may be able to trace their place of origin back to another place along the tracks.


Historical Background

In order to bind the nation together from [[California Genealogy|Californi] to the eastern states visionaries proposed a railroad between the west and east coasts of the [[United States Genealogy|United State]. During the [[United States Civil War, 1861 to 1865|Civil Wa] Congress authorized the building of this railroad. Congress offered [[Grants to Land Companies and Railroads#Railroads|land grant] along the tracks in a [[Grants to Land Companies and Railroads#Railroads|checkerboard patter] as an incentive to the builders. The company that could build the most track would receive the most land.

Starting in 1863 in Sacramento, [[California Genealogy|Californi], the Central Pacific laid their first tracks. They slowly started their eastward race toward the oncoming Union Pacific Railroad by building to Roseville, California in 1864. In 1865 they reached Colfax, and in 1866 Cisco, California. They overcame terrific problems including, labor shortages, difficulty obtaining U.S. steel tracks, lack of blasting powder, and the expense of grading, tunneling and bridging in steep mountains. In 1868 they laid 306 miles of track across [[Nevada Genealogy|Nevad], and set a world record building ten miles of track in twelve hours in 1869. On 10 May 1869 the Central Pacific joined track with the Union Pacific at Promontory Summi, Utah north of the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Salt_Lake Great Salt Lak to form the first [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcontinental_railroad transcontinental railroad in the [[United States Genealogy|United State].[5] Later in 1904 the Lucin Cutoff was completed across the Salt Lake to shorten the route to Ogden, Utah and avoid mountain grades and curves.[6]


The Central Pacific Railrad from west to east went through the following towns (listed with their modern county names):

[[California Genealogy|Californi]

  • Sacramento, [[Sacramento County, California Genealogy|Sacramento Count]
  • Roseville, [[Placer County, California Genealogy|Placer Count]

The Last Spike 1869

  • Newcastle, [[Placer County, California Genealogy|Placer Count]
  • Auburn, [[Placer County, California Genealogy|Placer Count]
  • Colfax, [[Placer County, California Genealogy|Placer Count]
  • Through Sierra Nevada Mountains in California
  • Extension to Alameda, [[Alameda County, California Genealogy|Alameda Count]
  • Extension to Oakland, [[Alameda County, California Genealogy|Alameda Count]
  • Extension to Stockton, [[San Joaquin County, California Genealogy|San Joaquin Count]
  • Extension to Vallejo, Solano County
  • Extension to Benicia, Solano County

[[Nevada Genealogy|Nevad]

  • Reno, [[Washoe County, Nevada#Land|Washoe Count]
  • Winnemucca, [[Humboldt County, Nevada Genealogy|Humboldt Count]
  • Elko, Elko County
  • Wells, Elko county


  • Promontory Summit, [[Box Elder County, Utah Genealogy|Box Elder Count]
  • Corrinne, [[Box Elder County, Utah Genealogy|Box Elder Count]
  • Brigham City, [[Box Elder County, Utah Genealogy|Box Elder Count]
  • Ogden, [[Weber County, Utah Genealogy|Weber Count]
  • Feeder line to [[Salt Lake City, Utah|Salt Lake Cit], Salt Lake County

This railway company laid 690 miles of track. During most of its history, the Central Pacific tracks through [[Nevada Genealogy|Nevad] to Ogden, Utah were controlled by the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Settlers and Records

Settlers using the Central Pacific Railroad were likely to be from Eastern or Midwestern states along the tracks of the Union Pacific and connectors such as Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Utah. Most would have settled in Utah, Nevada, or northern California.

There are no known Central Pacific Railroad passenger list records.



  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Central Pacific Railroad," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Central_Pacific_Railroad Wikipedia contributors,
  2. "Union Pacific Railroad," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Union_Pacific_Railroad Wikipedia contributors,
  3. "Golden spike," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Golden_spike and Wikipedia contributors,
  4. "Promontory, Utah," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Promontory,_Utah
  5. "Central Pacific Railroad" in American Western History Musuems at http://www.linecamp.com/museums/americanwest/western_clubs/central_pacific_railroad/central_pacific_railroad.html (accessed 10 July 2009).
  6. Wikipedia contributors, "Lucin Cutoff" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lucin_Cutoff (accessed 10 July 2009).


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  • This page was last modified on 10 October 2015, at 19:56.
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