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New York Times

Reports of May 10, 1869, published in the May 11, 1869 Newspaper


Completion of the Great Line Spanning the Continent.

The Closing Work and Ceremonies at Promontory Summit.

The News Flashed by Telegraph Simultaneously Over the Country.

Rejoicings of the Metropolis at the Completion of the Enterprise.

Celelebrations in Chicago, Philadelphia and Other Cities.

The Work Accomplished — Ceremonies at Promontory Summit.

Special Dispatch to the New York Times.

Promontory, Utah, Monday, May 10.

The long-looked for moment has arrived. The construction of the Pacific Railroad is un fait accompli. The inhabitants of the Atlantic seaboard and the dwellers of the Pacific slopes are henceforth emphatically one people. Your correspondent is writing on Promontory Summit amid the deafening shouts of the multitude, with the tick, tick, of the telegraph close to his ear. The proceedings of the day are:

  1. Prayer by Rev. Dr. Todd, of Pittsfield, asking the favor of heaven upon the enterprise.
  2. Laying of the two rails, one opposite the other- one for the Union Pacific Railroad, and one for the Central Pacific Railroad.
  3. Presentation of spikes to the two companies — on the part of California by Dr. Harkness, on the part of Nevada by Hon. F.A. Fritle, and on the part of Arizona by Governor Safford.
  4. Response by Governor Stanford on the part of the Central Pacific Railroad.
  5. Response by General G.M. Dodge on the part of the Union Pacific Railroad.
  6. Driving of the last spikes by the two Companies; telegraph to be attached to the spike of the Central Pacific Company, and the last blow to announce to the world by telegraph the completion of the Pacific Railroad.
  7. Telegram to the President of the United States.
  8. Telegram to the Associated Press.
Announcement in Washington of the Completion of the Road-Scene in the Telegraph Office.

Special Dispatch to the New York Times.

Washington, Monday, May 10.

The completion of the Pacific Railroad has monopolized public attenetion here today to the exclusion of everything else. The feeling is one of hearty rejoicing at the completion of this great work. There were no public observances, but the arrangements made by the telegraph company to announce the completion of the road simultaneously with the driving of the last spike were perfect. At 2:20 this afternoon, Washington time, all the telegraph offices in the country were notified by the Omaha telegraph office to be ready to receive the signals corresponding to the blows of the hammer that drove the last spike in the last rail that united New York and San Francisco with a band of iron. Accordingly Mr. Tinker, Manager of the Western Union Telegraph Office in this city, placed a magnetic bell sounder in the public office of that Company, corner fourteenth street and the avenue, connected the same with the main lines, and notified the various offices that he was ready. New Orleans instantly responded, the answer being read from the bell taps. New York did the same. At 2:27 o’clock office over the country began to make all sorts of inquiries of Omaha, to which that office replied.

"To Everybody: Keep quiet. When the last spike is driven at Promontory Point they will say ‘Done. Don’t break the circuit, but watch for the signals of the blows of the hammer."

At 2:27 P.M., Promontory Point, 2,400 miles west of Washington, said to the people congregated in the various telegraph offices:

"Almost ready. Hats off; prayer is being offered."

A silence for the prayer ensued. At 2:40 the bell tapped again, and the office at the Point said: "We have got done praying. The spike is about to be presented."

Chicago replied: "We understand: all are ready in the East."

Promontory Point: "All ready now; the spike will be driven. The signal will be three dots for the commencement of the blows."

For a moment the instrument was silent; then the hammer of the magnet tapped the bell, "One, two, three," the signal; another pause of a few seconds, and the lightning came flashing eastward, vibrating over 2,400 miles between the junction of the two roads and Washington, and the blows of the hammer upon the spike were measured instantly in telegraphic accents on the bell here. At 2:47 P.M. Promontory Point gave the signal, "Done," and the continent was spanned with iron. The same ceremony was observed at the military telegraph office in the War Department, where were present Secretary Rawlins, Generals Sherman, Townsend, and others. The President was unavoidably kept away by an engagement. The bell taps here, too, repeated the blows of the hammer, and the completion of the great enterprise was known here before the echoes of the last strike had died out of the ears of those present at the ceremonies at Promontory Point.


Rejoicing in This City — The Booming of Cannon and Chiming of Bells — Magnificant Thanksgiving Services at Old Trinity — Address by Rev. Dr. Vinton — Congratulatory Dispatches to San Francisco by Mayor Hall and the Chamber of Commerce.

It was apparent everywhere throughout the City yesterday that an event of more than usual importance was taking place, and that there was an evident disposition among the people to be jubilant. Especially was the case in Wall-street, and in Printing-house-square and its vicinity. Flags were displayed on the City Hall, on all the newspaper offices, and on the prominent hotels. Every countenance seemed to bear a look of supreme satisfaction, and all were apparently awaiting with anticipations of delight the receipt of most welcome news. At length, soon after the sun had left the senith, it came — the last rail of the road connecting our opposite ocean-bound shores was laid; the last spike (a gold one, by the bye) was driven; and thereupon there was booming of cannon, peals from Trinity chimes, and general rejoicing over the completion of the great enterprise. In the success of which not only this country, but the whole civilized world, is directly interested. According to the announcement made in yesterday’s Times, there were special services in Old Trinity, and particular notice of the event was taken by the Chamber of Commerce. At 10 o’clock A.M., the Special Committee appointed by the Chamber at its last meeting proceeded to the office of the Western Union Telegraph Company, where Mr. L.B. Ruggles its Chairman on behalf of the organization, handed to the operator, to be sent to San Francisco, the following.

Congratulatory Dispatch.

From the Chamber of Commerce of New York to the Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco, on the Completion of the Pacific Railway.

New York, May 10, 1869 — 10 A.M.
The Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York desires to unite at noon today with the Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco, in grateful thanksgiving to Almighty God, the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, on the completion of the continental line of railway, spanning the territory of the American Union and commercially uniting two great oceans of the globe; and in solemn recognition of the manifold benefits and blessings, industrial and commercial, moral and political, national and international, of this great avenue of intercommunication.

The new highway thus opened to man will not only develop the resources, extend the commerce, increase the power, exalt the dignity and perpetuate the unity of our Republic, but in its broader relations, as the segment of a world-embracing circle, directly connecting the nations of Europe with those of Asia, will materially facilitate the enlightened and advancing civilization of our age. By order of the Chamber.





Special Committee.

In a few minutes time the lightning carried the congratulations of the Chamber across the Continent.

Up to the hour of going to press, no response had been received to the telegram sent to San Francisco by the Chamber of Commerce of this City.


Long before 12 M., the hour at which the special religious services in honor of the great event were to begin, Old Trinity was crowded with a congregation representing all conditions of out municipal society, anxiously awaiting the commencement of the exercises. At noon, after a voluntary on the organ had been performed, a long line of white-robed choristers and attendant clergymen emerged from the vestry and entered the chancel, all singing the following processional hymn:

"O come, loud anthems let us sing.

Lord thanks to our Almighty King.

For we our voices high should raise

When our salvation’s rock we praise.

The depths of earth are in His hand;

Her secret wealth at His command;

The strength of hills that reach the skies

Subjected to His empire lies.

The rolling ocean’s vast abyss

By the same sovereign right is His;

‘Twas made by His Almighty hand.

That formed and fixed the solid land.

O let us to His courts repair,

And bow with adoration there;

Down on our knees devoutly all

Before the Lord our Maker fall."

Among the ecclesiastics in attendance were Rev. Drs. Dix, Ogilvie and Vinton, of Trinity; Bishop Littlejohn, of Brooklyn; Rev. Drs. Burgess and Stubbs, Rev. Mr. Oberly, Rev. J. P. White, of Newport, R. I.; Rev. Professor Johnson, of the Episcopal Seminary, and many other clergymen of this City and Brooklyn.

When all had taken their places in the chancel, the Lord’s Prayer was recited with great fervor by the clergymen and congregation in unison, Rev. Dr. Ogilvie leading. The collects for the fourth, seventh and eighth Sundays after Trinity were then read, and the following special prayer, set forth by the authority of the Bishop of Diocese, was recited by Rev. Dr. Dix:

"O God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, Who upholdest all things by the World of Thy power, without Whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: we bless and magnify Thy glorious name that by Thy goodness the great work which we commemorate this day has been accomplished, so that the extreme borders of our land have been joined and brought nigh together, and a pathway opened between remote parts of the earth, both for the commerce of the nations and for a highway and a way whereby Thy Gospel may have free course, and Thy holy name may be glorified. We thank Thee that the wilderness and the solitary place are made glad, and that the desert may rejoice and blossom as the rose. We come before Thee this day, in deep humility and thankfulness of heart, acknowledging that Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and power, and the glory and the victory and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine. Thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted, as Head over all. Both riches and honor come of thee, and Thou reignest over all; and in Thine hand is power and might; and in Thine hand it is to make great and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Te Deum Laudamus was then sung, after which Rev. Mr. Oberly read the lesson from the 7th chapter of Deuteronomy. The epistle was read by Rev. J..P. White, of Newport, R.I., and the ante-communion service by Rev. Dr. Dix, when the Nicene Creed was recited, and the anthem, "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised," was sung as an offertory selection.


Rev. Dr. Vinton then ascended the pulpit and delivered the following address:

Fellow Citizens and Brethren: You have just listened to the anthem of praise and thanksgiving sent up from two separate and distinct organs, one in the chancel and the other in the loft; and yet so uniform were their strains that you could not distinguish the harmonics of one instrument from those emitted by the other. This intimate connection between those instruments is grandly typical of the great event we are here assembled to commemorate — the harmony of music and concord on one tune are practically illustrative of the joining of two oceans by railroad connection. In order to give impressiveness to the completion of a work so fraught with blessings to us as a people, the Chamber of Commerce of New York have sent, by their Committee, a congratulatory dispatch to the Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco. [The reverend gentleman here read the dispatch, which may be found above.] This communication has probably reached its destination long since, even earlier than it is dated, owing to the difference in time between the two points; and about the time when we shall have closed these exercises, our strain of praised and thanksgiving will be taken up and reiterated on the shores of the mighty Pacific. This is indeed a great event of the world; it is one of the victories of peace — a victory grander than those of war, which leave in their track desolation, devastation, misery and woe. It is a triumph of commerce — a triumph indicating free trade as a future law of the nation. It is practically, in view, of the results that will now to the muse of Christianity in consequence of it, a fulfillment of the prophecy recorded in Holy Writ: "And the Lord shall be king over all the earth; in that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one." _Zachariah xiv., 9. We are told again that the Lord shall be king, and all the nations shall bear the voice of Zion. When we contemplate the achievement we can hardly realize its magnitude. Three thousand two hundred and eighty five miles of continuous railway within four degrees of latitude and fifty degrees of longitude in the temperate zone. It begin when the nation was agitated by war, and is finished now when we enjoy a reign of peace. When the ocean route was discovered around the Cape of Good Hope, it was very properly regarded as a blessing to mankind — hence the designation by which it is known; but the completion of this mighty work, which connects the two oceans, is a still greater blessing. In the olden times, when camels — those ships of the desert — were the means used for transportation, for the furtherance of commercial traffic, it was found that wherever the caravans stopped there would spring up cities, and there would be evidence of civilization. So with this great work. It will populate our vast territory and be the great highway of the nations; their merchants will cross it to trade with us. But there is another aspect in which we view it as a blessing, and in connection with which we esteem it of still greater importance. It will preserve the Union of those States. Philosophers tell us, and we know it to be true, that where there are rivers which diverge in their courses, and have separate and distinct outlets, (as in Europe) there the nations become diffused, and the peoples are separated and disunited. But where, on the contrary, the topography is such that the rivers all flow into one common central basin, there is necessarily a concentration of interests and of peoples, and that territory is marked out by God to be under one Government. By the operation of this natural law we must regard it as decreed that there shall ever be a unity of people and government in all that territory which lies between the Alleghenies and the Rocky Mountains. Beyond those lofty heights, however, we find the rivers diverging, as in Europe, and, following the rule that obtains in the Old World, there might be a diffusion of interests and a separation of governments in that section of the country divided from us by the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains. But this railway counteracts such natural tendency to disunion, has prevented a separation, and binds the States of the Atlantic and Pacific into one nation. Roman roads unified and consolidated the Roman Empire. They were made by the ambition of Emperors for the necessities of war and commerce but, under Divine Providence they were the highways along which the Apostles and the missionaries of Christ carried the good tidings of salvation to the tribes of peoples. So this Pacific Railway is a means, under Divine Providence, for propagating the Church and the Gospel from this, the youngest Christian nation, to the oldest land in the Orient, now sunk in Paganism and idolatry, and so will revive the worship of the Triune God—the God of our salvation—in the farther East, the birthplace of Christianity. For this we celebrate this great event. Join with me, therefore, in singing an anthem of praise to God, "Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace, good will to men."
The choir then pealed forth the Gloria in MOZART'S immortal Twelfth Mass, the rendering throughout being superbly grand. Dr. DIX then offered up the prayer for the whole state of Christ's Church militant here on earth, and pronounced the benediction, after which the clergyment and choristers returned to the vestry, singing the recessional hymn, commencing:

"Bless'd be thou, the God of Israel,
Thou our Father and our Lord;
Bless'd thy Majesty forever,
Ever be thy name adored.
Thine, O Lord, are power and greatness,
Glory, victory, and thine own;
All is thine in earth and heaven
Over all thy boundless throne."

The musical exercises throughout were of a superior order, and chained the attention of the immense congregation.


When the religious services were ended, Mr. AYLIFFE struck up the chimes, beginning by ringing the changes on eight bells, and following with national and operatic airs. The ringing of the chimes attracted a large crowd to Broadway at the head of Wall-street, and it was not until the booming of cannon in the City Hall Park told of the receipt of an official dispatch by HIS HONOR Mayor HALL, announcing the driving of the last spike in the last rail, that this crowd separated.

In Wall-street, and at the rooms of the Chamber of Commerce, the great event of the day was the subject of conversation and congratulation, and many announcements were made by the merchants of a determination to visit San Francisco via the new route, during the coming Summer.

At the City Hall.

The flags on the City Hall were hoisted at an early hour, and preparations were made to fire one hundred guns as soon as the announcement was received that the last rail had been laid and the great work completed. At 3:16 P. M. the following dispatch was handed to the Mayor:


To Hon. A. Oakley Hall, Mayor of New-York:
The last spike in the rail connecting the Atlantic and Pacific by rail has been driven at 3:10 P. M., (New-York time.)
A.S. BROWN, Mayor.

In a few minutes after the receipt of Mayor BROWN'S dispatch Mayor HALL sent the following:


New-York, May 10, 1869.

To the Mayor of San Francisco:
New-York rejoyced when, almost half a century ago, by the completion of the Erie Canal, the silver chain of Western inland seas was riveted upon the Atlantic Ocean. The metropolis of American exults to-day, because by the completion of the Pacific Railway two extremities and coasts of an immense continent are commercially welded together. Apart from the relations of this grand event to Christianity, political economy, civilization and patriotism, it justifies the metropolis in the pardonably selfish expectation to soon become the commercial exchange of the world. Her newspapers, which have so largely contributed to this day's result, must soon accustom our citizens to phrases like this one: "The Asiatic freight train has arrived on time." So our flags are now flying, our cannon now booming, and in Old Trinity, at the head of Wall-Street, a Te Deum imparts thankful harmonies to the busy hum about her church walls. Can it, then, be necessary, by mere words to tender you fuller magnetic sympathy? As for congratulations to you, phrases seem inadequate to foretell the full fruition to your golden-gated city of enterprise of this beginning of railway intercommunication. Therefore let this 10th of May pass into the annals of San Francisco, New-York, and every hamlet, village, town and city along the new highway as an anniversary day.
Mayor of New-York.

The Mayor also gave orders to fire 100 guns in the City Hall Park in honor of the event, and Mr. ROOME having kept guns and ammunition in readiness, the first discharge was fired within five minutes after receipt of the dispatch. A large number of persons congregated in the Park to listen to the booming of the cannon, which told of another great enterprise completed, and to congratulate each other on the event. Flags were hoisted on the Astor House and most of the private buildings so soon as the news was made public.

Celebrations in Chicago, Philadelphia, Buffalo and Other Places.

CHICAGO, Monday, May 10.

The celebration of the completion of the great interoceanic railway connection to-day was the most successful affair of the kind that ever took place in Chicago, and probably in the West. It was entirely impromptu, and therefore almost every man and woman and child in the city did their part toward making it a success. The procession was unique in appearance, and immense in length, which at the lowest estimate was seven miles. During the moving of the procession Vice-President COLFAX received the following dispatch:

Monday, May 10.

To Hon. Schuyler Colfax, Vice President:
The rails were connected to-day. The prophecy of BENTON to-day is a fact. This is the way to India. Signed
G.M. DODGE,             JOHN DUFF,

This evening VicePresident COLFAX, Lieutenant-Governor BROSS and others addressed a large audiance at Library Hall, in which they spoke eloquently of the great ear which this day marks in the history of our country.
During the evening there was also a general indulgence in fireworks, bonfires, illuminations, &c.

PHILADELPHIA, Monday, May 10.

At 2:30 o'clock precisely, Philadelphia time, the news was received of the drivintg of the last spike of the Pacific Railroad. Word was sent to the Mayor, and, in a few minutes, the bells n Independence Hall and various fire stations were rung, drawing a crowd into the streets, thinking a general alarm of fire was being rung. The people soon ascertained the reason of the ringing of the bells, and flags were immediately hoisted everywhere. A large number of steam fire-engines were ranged in front of Independence Hall, with screeching whistles, horse carriages, bells ringing, &c. Joy was expressedin every face at the completion of the great work of the century. The sudden flocking of the people to the State-house reminded one of the reception of the news of the surrender of LEE'S army, when a similar scene was enacted.

BUFFALO, N. Y., Monday, May 10.

A large crowd of citizens assembled at the Board of Trade rooms this afternoon, to hear the announcement by telegraph of the driving of the last spike in the rail connecting the Atlantic coast with the Pacific. The telegraph wire was attached to a large gong bell, and at 2:41 o'clock, city time, repeating strokes were simultaneously made. At the completion cheers were given, the "Star Spangle Banner" sung by the crowd, prayer offered and approprite speeches made by Hon. D. S. BENNETT, HENTRY A. RICHMOND and others.

Scranton, Penn., Monday, May 8.

Scranton celebrated the completion of the Pacific Railroad by firing of cannons, ringing of bells, whistling of locomotives, and a general expression of joy by its citizens.

Courtesy Bruce C. Cooper.
Transcription of a portion of this article, courtesy Mara Levy.

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