150th Gold Spike Celebration — Transcontinental Railroad Film Series: Images of the West
- EVT 588
- Apr 15—May 20
- 7:00 pm
No Registration Required
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 coastto- 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 Film Series: Images of the West
The events surrounding the building and completion of the Transcontinental Railroad are woven in the history and lore of the American West. Over six weeks, the Stanford Historical Society will present a series of films, each introduced by historians, film scholars, and researchers, that will attempt to put these historical events in perspective. A discussion will follow each screening.
The Iron Horse (1924)
This is the first motion picture depiction of the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, by renowned director John Ford. In this epic-scale silent film, Ford invented some of the basic vocabulary of the cinematic “Western.”
Monday, April 15, 7:00 pm
Union Pacific (1939)
Directed by Cecil B. DeMille, known for films with “a cast of thousands,” and an eye for cinematic showmanship, the film features Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea, and Robert Preston.
Monday, April 22, 7:00 pm
Iron Road (2009)
Historian Ronald Takaki writes, “The construction of the Central Pacific Railroad line was a Chinese achievement.” Too often forgotten, overlooked, or given just a token nod, Chinese workers played a pivotal role in the construction of the railroad lines that crossed the United States and Canada. In this 2009 Canadian television mini-series, the spotlight is finally turned to the Chinese experience.
Monday, April 29, 7:00 pm
American Experience: Transcontinental Railroad (2003)
A superb documentary on the history of the Transcontinental Railroad from its earliest planning phases before the Civil War, and decisions Lincoln made during the war, to the barons who got the contracts and got wealthy laying the track.
Monday, May 6, 7:00 pm
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
This Sergio Leone classic tells the tale of a mysterious stranger who joins forces with a notorious desperado to protect a beautiful widow from a ruthless assassin working for the railroad. The cast includes Claudia Cardinale, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, and Keenan Wynn.
Monday, May 13, 7:00 pm
The Railroad segment of How the West Was Won (1962); Hells on Wheels (2013); and This Is America, Charlie Brown: The Building of the Transcontinental Railroad (1996)
This omnibus finale includes the twenty-four-minute animated telling of the building of the Transcontinental Railroad by an earnest Charlie Brown. This clear-eyed version of the story includes excellent segments on Native Americans and Chinese and African American railroad workers.
Monday, May 20, 7:00 pm
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