The greatest historical event in modern transportation occured on May 10, 1869. The first ever transcontinental railroad was formed as the Union Pacific joined the Central Pacific at Promontory Point, Utah.
This major construction project did not happen overnight, in fact, this idea took years to develop into reality. Expansion of Western territory and the recent California Gold Rush increased the need and interest for building an extensive railroad. Finally, in 1853, Congress expended $150,000 to search for a possible route.
As expected, there were several availible courses. The only problem was the rivalry between states. The Confederate states supported the southern route, but the northern states supported the northern route. Finally, Congress decided to end the intercontinental discord. In June of 1862, a year after the Civil War broke out, both houses of Congress passed the Pacific Railroad Act. This Act chartered a corporation called the Union Pacific Railroad Company. It also administered the Central Pacific Railroad Company to start in California and build a railroad west.
After a feasible intracontinental course was uncovered, four guys practically took over- really! I'm serious about this! Leland Standford, Collis P. Huntington, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins were the "Big Four" that pretty much formulated and regulated this whole plan for building the Central Pacific Railroad. Although they did not go hand in hand on all issues, they worked hard and compromised on disagreements.
Stanford was liberal, Huntington was conservative. Crocker wanted to lead construction, and Hopkins was avaricious- not a penny was wasted if he could help it. .
Theodore Judah, a civil engineer, met up with Stanford one day to discuss an efficient route that he surveyed. Stanford was pleased with its efficiency and purchased it.
Meanwhile, the corporation assigned Stanford as president, Huntington as vice president, and Hopkins as treasurer.