Scenes From the American West, 150 Years Ago

In the late 1860s, photographer Andrew J. Russell traveled west to document the construction of the Union Pacific Railway in Wyoming and Utah, including the famous “golden spike” moment on May 10, 1869, when the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads were joined in Promontory, Utah, creating the nation’s first transcontinental railroad. Russell captured images of the railway construction as well as the wide-open landscape of the American West and its inhabitants. See also, a previous photo essay from Timothy O’Sullivan, covering similar territory at the time.

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