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150 and Counting
On May 10, 1869 (150 years ago), Americans were on pins and needles. They gathered at train stations and outside newspaper offices eagerly awaiting word that a modern marvel was now a reality. They’d followed developments closely as two railroads raced each other to complete the world’s first transcontinental railroad.
The Civil War and its horrors were still vividly fresh in America’s memory and folks wanted something to cheer about. The Transcontinental Railroad was just the ticket because it was a very big deal. For the first time in human history, passengers could board a train on one coast and travel by rail all the way to the other. Even the instrument that kept them updated on the railroad’s progress was itself a new kid on the technology block: The transcontinental telegraph was barely seven years old. At 12:47 p.m., the final spike was hammered down and a one-word message was flashed to all of America: “D-O-N-E!” Bands broke out in song, cannons boomed, and crowds cheered!
If you’ve been paying attention, the Union Pacific Railroad (to celebrate this event) has been running it’s gigantic Big Boy Steam locomotive (4-8-8-4) all over the country and it was in Wisconsin just last week. Take a peek at YouTube if you want to see videos of this large engine steaming past in various parts of the country. It was a cool way to celebrate 150!
So why am I talking about this? Because this is the 150th article I have written for the and I had absolutely no idea what to write about this week. So with the visit of the Big Boy, that moment in history popped into my head. However, I do want to let you know that we have recently added some new books on history that you might be interested in:
- Every Man a Hero: a Memoir of D-Day by Ray Lambert
- 100 Days: How 4 Events in 1969 Changed America by Harlan Lebo
- The World of the Crusades by Christopher Tyerman
- Cities: the First 6,000 Years by Monica Smith
- Normandy ’44: D-Day and the Epic 77 Day Battle for France by James Holland
- Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates Jr.
- The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer
- The First Conspiracy: the Secret Plot to Kill George Washington by Brad Meltzer
When I stop and think about it, 150 articles does not seem like a lot, and yet I have shared many things with you about the Library and the many things that go on here. I want you to know that I will continue to do so; because now more than ever, this Library “is” the “heart of this community.” Many good things are happening behind the scenes and as the next 150 articles unfold, I hope you will be edified by what I share with you!