Above: A stereocard, taken by Alfred A. Hart in Nevada circa November 1868. Members of the Shoshone nation examine a locomotive in the Humboldt Desert. Part of the "Scenes on the Humboldt River" stereocard album collection.

  • Joslyn Art Museum
    Omaha, NE
    (October 6, 2018 – January 6, 2019)
  • Utah Museum of Fine Arts
    Salt Lake City, UT
    (February 1 – May 26, 2019)
  • Crocker Art Museum
    Sacramento, CA
    (June 23 – September 29, 2019)

Sacramento, CA - July 9, 2019 - Union Pacific, in partnership with Joslyn Art Museum and the Union Pacific Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa, announces a new travelling exhibition in recognition of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad.

The Race to Promontory: The Transcontinental Railroad and the American West celebrates the “Meeting of the Rails” at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869, through the photographs and stereographs of Andrew Joseph Russell (1830 – 1902) and Alfred A. Hart (1816 – 1908). Drawn exclusively from the Union Pacific Historic Collection, located at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, these images represent the largest collection in the world of original photographs documenting the construction of the transcontinental railroad between 1866 and 1869.

Andrew J. Russell (American, 1830-1902), East and West Shaking Hands at Laying Last Rail, 1869, albumen print, Courtesy Union Pacific Railroad Museum. The ceremony spotlighted Union Pacific locomotive No. 119 meeting Central Pacific locomotive Jupiter. From left, shaking hands, are Samuel S. Montague, chief engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad, and General Grenville M. Dodge, chief engineer of the Union Pacific Railroad.

Appropriately, this transformative endeavor was captured by the equally groundbreaking medium of photography, which was used to document the railroad’s arduous construction and then capture the moment of its completion and distribute it around the world. From east to west, the Union Pacific line was photographed by Russell, and west to east by Hart, for the Central Pacific.

The Race to Promontory
features approximately 40 framed Imperial plate albumen prints by Russell, including images from his album, The Great West Illustrated, as well as rare, unpublished prints from the Union Pacific Collection, including Russell’s famous image from Promontory Summit, East and West Shaking Hands. One hundred eight stereograph cards by Hart will also be displayed, and two stereograph viewers will allow museum visitors to view Hart and Russell images in three dimensions.

The exhibition also includes archival material from the Union Pacific Collection, commemorative objects relating to the events at Promontory Summit on May 10, 1869 – including the original “Arizona Spike” from the celebration of the laying of the last rail – as well as artifacts and records from the construction of the railroad.

Crocker Art Museum Director and CEO Lial Jones said, "As Sacramento was the terminus of the Central Pacific Railroad, and the Crocker family was so involved in its creation, the Museum is delighted to host this exhibition telling the story of the Transcontinental Railroad. That story is a big part of Sacramento's story, and that of the Museum's founder E. B. Crocker. Seen through the eyes of Russell and Hart, this essential part of our national history comes alive for a twenty-first century audience."

Scott Moore, Union Pacific senior vice president of Corporate Relations and chief administrative officer, said, “The transcontinental railroad formed our nation’s backbone, building communities along the way and uniting our nation. Union Pacific continues to be at the forefront of innovation, using technology to make meaningful change in every aspect of our business, enabling us to deliver the goods Americans use every day and help build safe, vibrant and prosperous communities in the 23 states where our employees live and work. The Race to Promontory exhibit underscores this connection and recognizes our responsibility to share our history with the American people.

Alfred A. Hart (American, 1816-1908), Locomotive on Trestle, near American River, 1865, albumen stereograph, Courtesy Union Pacific Railroad Museum.

The completion of the transcontinental railroad was as celebrated a national – and international – event as the first moon landing, exactly a century later in 1969. Forty-six months after they began construction, the two railroads came together and officially "united" the United States. Western Union offered coverage direct from the scene – the first major news event carried "live" from coast-to-coast. Telegraph wires were attached to one of the ceremonial spikes and as it was gently tapped with a silver maul, the “strokes” were heard across the Country. Whistles were blown in San Francisco, the Liberty Bell was rung in Philadelphia, and a ball was held in Washington, D.C.

The transcontinental had opened the heart of the continent, and, within days of its completion, the country was transformed. Travel from New York to San Francisco was reduced from six months to 10 days, and at ten percent of the cost. This new era witnessed the development of settlements for millions of Americans and an incredible surge in industrial growth. Agricultural products were transported east from California, changing how Americans filled their dinner tables. The railroad led to the creation of Standard Time, to allow trains to move safely along a single track. Communication flowed quickly and reliably across the country on mail cars and by telegraph lines along the track. The railroad also connected the United States to the world, carrying products from Asia and Europe – the first freight shipment across the new railroad included casks of tea from Japan – and building new markets for both imported and exported goods.

On a larger scale, the railroad also obliterated the idea of the “frontier,” and forever changed the lives of indigenous Plains tribes, as new migration spurred by the railroad hastened the end of the Indian Wars and the beginning of the reservation era. The Pacific Railway and Homestead Act insured the resettlement of new territories under the control of the federal government, reinforcing the 19th century ideal of Manifest Destiny as the United States expanded from sea to sea.

High resolution images are available to members of the news media upon request.

Crocker Art Museum
Karen Christian
(916) 808-1867

Union Pacific Railroad
Kristen South
(402) 544-3435

The Crocker Art Museum’s mission is to promote an awareness of and enthusiasm for human experience through art. Founded in 1885 as a public-private partnership between the city of Sacramento, California, and the Crocker Art Museum Association, the Crocker is the oldest art museum west of the Mississippi River. Today, the Museum is heralded for its renowned collections and leadership in art museum education. The Crocker features the world’s foremost display of Californian art and is renowned for its holdings of master drawings and international ceramics. The Crocker serves as the primary regional resource for the study and appreciation of fine art and holds permanent collections of Californian as well as European, Asian, African, and Oceanic art. The Museum offers a diverse spectrum of exhibitions, events, programs, classes, and lectures, and prides itself on bringing people together and connecting them in unexpected ways.

Union Pacific Railroad is the principal operating company of Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE: UNP). One of America's most recognized companies, Union Pacific Railroad connects 23 states in the western two-thirds of the country by rail, providing a critical link in the global supply chain. In the last 10 years, 2008-2017, Union Pacific invested approximately $34 billion in its network and operations to support America's transportation infrastructure. The railroad's diversified business mix is classified into its Agricultural Products, Energy, and Industrial and Premium business groups. Union Pacific serves many of the fastest-growing U.S. population centers, operates from all major West Coast and Gulf Coast ports to eastern gateways, connects with Canada's rail systems and is the only railroad serving all six major Mexico gateways. Union Pacific provides value to its roughly 10,000 customers by delivering products in a safe, reliable, fuel-efficient and environmentally responsible manner.

The Union Pacific Railroad Museum, operated by the Union Pacific Museum Association, a nonprofit 501(c) 3, is housed in a historic Carnegie Library building in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where visitors will discover an extensive compilation of artifacts, photographs, documents and equipment from more than 150 years of our nation's most ambitious endeavors – including constructing the transcontinental railroad and settling the West. Among the most popular museum exhibits are "America Travels by Rail," which celebrates the height of passenger travel; the Lincoln Collection, featuring artifacts from President Abraham Lincoln's rail car and funeral; and “Working on the Railroad,” an exhibit that features the technology and innovation that sustain Union Pacific as a railroad industry leader. The Union Pacific Railroad Museum’s mission is to promote a sense of connectedness that’s shared by generations of people whose personal and family histories have been touched by the railroad.