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150th Gold Spike Celebration — Transcontinental Railroad Symposium

EVT 587
Apr 6
8:30 am—1:00 pm
Status: Registration opens Feb 25 8:30 am (PT)

One hundred fifty years ago, tracks of The Central Pacific Railroad from the west and the Union Pacific Railroad from the east met at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory. It was here on May 10, 1869, that Leland Stanford drove the Last Spike (or Gold Spike), joining the rails of the Transcontinental Railroad and forever linking Stanford University to this transformative event and the changes it brought to California and the nation.

The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad connected the vast expanse of the United States with safe and convenient transport, reducing coast-to-coast travel from six months to just one week. In addition, the railroad provoked social change through migration, economic growth, and the introduction of Chinese labor to the West. One of its consequences was great wealth for the builders of the railroad, among them California Senator Leland Stanford. This fortune, and the land Leland Stanford purchased with it, was the foundation of Stanford University. Join us in examining the legacies of the Transcontinental Railroad and its effect on Stanford University during the 150th anniversary year of the Gold Spike.

Transcontinental Railroad Symposium

In this morning symposium, the Stanford Historical Society will reflect on the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad and its legacy at Stanford. Presenters will include a variety of Stanford faculty experts who will discuss the impact of the railroad on American lives, fortunes, and society.

The Big Four
Richard White, Margaret Byrne Professor of American History, Stanford

Impacting Cultures: The Chinese and Native Americans
Hilton Obenzinger, Associate Director, Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford University
C. Matthew Snipp, Senior Associate Vice Provost of Faculty Development and Diversity; Burnet C. and Mildred Finley Wohlford Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford

Celestial Railroad Revisited: The Railroad in 19th Century American History and Culture
James Campbell, Edgar E. Robinson Professor in United States History, Stanford

Stanford University’s Railroad Legacy
Laura Jones, Director, Heritage Services and University Archaeologist, Stanford
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