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Friday, May 13, 2011

May 10th, in history…

A pause, amidst the amazing offering of acoustic music possibilities…
May 10th, in history…
Happy Golden Spike Day! On May 10, 1869, the final spike – made of California gold – completed the first transcontinental railroad. It was atop Promontory Summit, a high, windblown, shallow saddle of sage-covered landscape in the wilds of Utah, just north of the Great Salt Lake.
The Union Pacific’s Irish immigrant tracklayers had built from the east, across the sea of grass of the Great Plains, then over a gentle crossing of the Rockies in Wyoming, finally encountering high canyon walls in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah.
The Central Pacific’s Chinese immigrant work force had built from California up, through, and ultimately over the mighty High Sierra, then down and across the brutal deserts of Nevada and into Utah.
It was the feat of the age, comparable, in its time, to the moon landing a hundred years later. The event united East and West, and was of incalculable value in uniting North and South a scant five years after the Civil War. An arduous three-month overland wagon trek was replaced overnight by a three-day journey by rail. A new mindset took hold, seeing everything as within reach of the American dream. As much as anything ever has, it made us one nation.
Each year on May 10, the National Park Service re-enacts the event on the exact site, with a pair of replica steam locomotives and a troupe of actors in period attire (who may or may not use words like those originally spoken when the iconic photograph was taken). Wherever you are, raise a glass to the spike, and to all those, known and unknown, whose labors made it possible, 142 years ago.
Musically, it's remained part of our consciousness, as recently as the hit, just a few years ago, "Driving the Last Spike." (Question for you: tell us who recorded that!)

Now, let's get on to the latest batch of 21st century News Features from The Guide!

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