Future of America's Past

Season 2, Episode 3 of 4

High in the Utah desert in 1869, two locomotives met and a golden spike was hammered into new rails: the first transcontinental railroad was complete. To mark the 150th anniversary of this feat, Utah organized a statewide effort called "Spike 150," with exhibitions and events engaging a diverse public. Host Ed Ayers visits to learn about the railroad's promise of prosperity. He considers the human costs, with a descendant of a Chinese American railroad builder and a Native American tribal leader. And he discovers how the environment and photography played key roles on the rails.

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