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Trains were the major transportation in the past. This selection recorded the historical event of celebrating the completion of the first transcontinental railroad line across the United States.
The Meeting of the Rails
1 It was like a circus in the wilderness. The sounds of brass bands, speeches, and laughter filled the air as about a thousand spectators milled around in the desert. Newspapers called it the second greatest event in U.S. history----second only to the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
2 What was it? It was the completion of the first transcontinental railroad line across the United States.
3 Before 1869, there were many railroads on the East Coast, but none stretched across the vast wilds of the West to the Pacific. Travel west was difficult at best, deadly at worst.
4 In the early 1860s the U.S. government commissioned two railroad companies----the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific----to build a track all the way across the country. A railroad that linked East and West would take settlers and goods quickly and safely across the United States.
5 For six years the Central Pacific had laid track eastward from Sacramento, California, battling the snows of the Sierra Nevada mountains and the heat of the Nevada desert. At the same time the Union Pacific built westward from Omaha, Nebraska.
6 Now they were coming together at Promontory Summit, a sagebrush-covered, isolated valley in the Wasatch Mountains of northern Utah Territory.
7 The festivities began on Monday morning, May 10, 1869. The Central Pacific's engine, Jupiter----decorated in blue, red, and gold----pulled to the end of the western line. The Union Pacific's engine, Number 119, did the same on the eastern line. With the two engines facing each other, laborers from the Central Pacific laid the last crossties, leaving space for one last tie.
|8 Next came two teams of tracklayers carrying the last two rails. After the Union Pacific team finished, the Central Pacific stood ready to lay the final rail.
9 Then four special spikes were presented: two of gold; one of silver; and one of gold, silver, and iron. Construction officials from each railroad slipped the last crosstie, a beautiful piece of polished laurel wood, under the rails. The spikes of precious metal were dropped into holes in the laurel wood tie and symbolically tapped into place. Then they were removed, and a regular tie and iron spike were made ready.
10 Finally it was the moment that everyone was waiting for: the driving of the last spike of the transcontinental railroad.
11 Leland Stanford, president of the Central Pacific and governor of California, had the honor of striking the first blow. The silver-plated mallet he held was attached to telegraph cables. The moment he struck the spike, the signal would fly across the United States.
12 Stanford nervously lifted the hammer, brought it down—and hit the iron rail instead of the spike! Sheepishly, he handed the mallet to Thomas Durant, vice-president of the Union Pacific. Durant missed the spike, too.
13 It didn’t matter, though. When Stanford hit the rail, a telegraph operator sent the message around the country. In San Francisco, the electricity automatically rang the fire bell in City Hall, and 220 cannons at Fort Point answered.
14 Crowds erupted into cheers in Sacramento and Omaha. A four-mile parade began in Chicago. The Liberty Bell rang in Philadelphia. One hundred guns fired in New York. The message arrived in Washington, D.C., and sounded the bell of the Capitol.
15 Then, as the crowd clapped and cheered, Jupiter and Number 119 pulled forward and met on the last rails, their cowcatchers1 barely touching. Then Jupiter pulled back and let Number 119 roll onto the Central Pacific track. Finally, Number 119 backed up and let Jupiter roll onto the Union Pacific track. The dream was a reality. The country was united by rail.1cowcatcher: a strong metal frame on the front of a locomotive that removes obstacles from the track
1. What was the most important result of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad line?
A. People in many cities celebrated.
B. The railroad line united the country.
C. An ordinary valley became a famous landmark.
D. Two different railroad companies worked together.
It was like a circus in the wilderness. The sounds of brass bands, speeches, and laughter filled the air as about a thousand spectators milled around in the desert.
2. Read the above sentences from the article. The author compares celebrating the completion of the first transcontinental railroad line to a circus because the celebration
A. is noisy and festive.
B. is silly and amusing.
C. happens in many places.
D. takes place out of doors.
3. What is the main idea of this article?
A. The transcontinental railroad line took six years to complete.
B. The transcontinental railroad line made transportation easier.
C. The completion of the transcontinental railroad line was very difficult.
D. The completion of the transcontinental railroad line was a great event.
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