Monday, July 2, 2012

Union Pacific Turns 150!

Did you know Congress incorporated the Union Pacific Railroad 100 years ago this month on July 1, 1862? Enacted and approved by President Abraham Lincoln, the railroad forever changed the face of the United States.
Late the following year, railroad workers would break ground on the railroad in Omaha, Nebraska, completing work on the line in 1865. The company hit another milestone four years later when it reached Promontory Summit, Utah and joined with the Central Pacific to create the first transcontinental railroad.
Things were looking well for the railway until 1872 when Union Pacific became embroiled in the Crédit Mobilier scandal, in which railroad officials bribed congressmen and stock speculators. The railway later filed for bankruptcy, reorganizing in 1880. The dominant shareholder, Jay Gould, is the focus of Earle Young’s books Tracks to the Sea and Galveston and the Great West -- both published by Texas A&M University Press. Read more about Tracks to the Sea here: and more about Galveston and the Great West here:
Thirteen years later the company filed for bankruptcy again; this time resulting in changes that would keep the railways successful. On January 8, 1980, the Missouri Pacific Railway was purchased by Union Pacific, but the merger was not approved until September 13, 1982. However, it still did not become official until January 1, 1997 due to Missouri Pacific’s outstanding bonds. Read more about the Rebirth of the Missouri Pacific (Texas A&M University Press) here:
Today, UP headquarters remain in Omaha, with the railway directly owning and operating lines in 23 states in the US, spanning some 54,000 west of the Mississippi River. UP has hundreds of yards throughout the United States.
Celebrate Union Pacific’s 150th birthday by engrossing yourself in the history of the line’s storied past, or, better yet, take a trip to Houston October 27th and 28th for the Houston Community Celebration. For more information about the railway’s birthday celebrations around the United States, visit Also celebrate the 150 year milestone by purchasing one of the above mentioned books for 40% off!
Happy Birthday Union Pacific!
By: Paige Bukowski

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