The benefits of a transcontinental railroad, it seems, should have been obvious to all thinking men, but the idea took root only gradually and met with strenuous opposition.The first plan to receive consideration of Congress was one in 1836.It was vital that California and the Pacific Coast be bound to the Union, consequently the Pacific Railroad became a military necessity.The Pacific Railroad Act was signed by President Abraham Lincoln on July 1, 1862, and six months later, on January 8, 1863, the first shovelful of earth was turned by Central Pacific in constructing the pioneer line.He was the first advocate of the Pacific Railroad who had practical railroad engineering knowledge to add to sincere enthusiasm.
He failed to impress men with money to invest until he got the attention of the Sacramento merchants.
Stanford, to be elected governor of California in September, 1861, was chosen president; Huntington became vice president; Hopkins, treasurer; and Judah, chief engineer.
Crocker became one of the directors and was later general superintendent of construction.
Construction began at Sacramento in 1863 following authorization by Congress in 1862.
The original unit of the transportation system that today comprises more than 15,000 miles of rail lines in this country and Mexico, was built from Sacramento 690 miles over the Sierra Nevada Mountains and across Nevada to meet the Union Pacific at Promontory, Utah, where the Last Spike was driven on May 10, 1869.