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On May 10, 1869, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads met nose-to-nose at Promontory Summit in Utah Territory, thus completing the first transcontinental railroad in the world. The iconic imagery and celebrated achievement of that moment overshadowed a lesser known story, a story of the people who built the final stretches of the rail line, and of the promises broken and the lives destroyed.
The isolated Mormon community, led by church president Brigham Young, embraced the railroad as a pathway to economic prosperity following a devastating grasshopper plague. When the lines were complete, the Mormons found their requests for payment denied and their quiet religious haven threatened by outside influences. It is this story that drives Promontory as it explores a historical event that redefined Utah and the nation.
Distributed for KUED, public broadcaster of the University of Utah.