|Central Pacific Railroad - 1868|
The Future of a Country
The Central Pacific Railroad was chartered by Congress, through the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862. For many, the future of the country depended upon this connection. According to Asa Whitney, a New Yorker who became wealthy in the China trade, talked about a railroad from the Great lakes to the Pacific in 1845; "You will see that it will change the whole world.... It will bring the world together as one nation...”
Once completed, the transcontinental route greatly reduced the time it took to cross the continent. A traveler could now leave New York and arrive in San Francisco 10 days later, instead of the 6 months it had taken previously. The railroads route also permitted the development of the nation's vast interior, encouraged settlement and promoted trade. In addition, Congress felt it was also essentially to the nation’s defense.
Photography and Railroad Building Come of Age Together
It is not by chance this monumental nation-changing event became probably one of the most well documented events to ever be recorded up to this point in history. A primary reason can be attributed to the emergence of a new technology being referred to as; photography. The ability to capture special moments in a manner that could then be shared with others using this ‘writing with light’ technology became a game changer.
With tens of thousands of workers and thousands of miles of rails, the Central Pacific Railroad’s parallel iron rails ultimately united the east coast with the nation's’ burgeoning west. Most of was it documented by a number of untold photographs. But what became of their silver halide memory keepers? That's where the Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum becomes very relevant.
A Dedicated Museum
The Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum, a gigantic online "virtual museum" established by the family of railroad pioneer Lewis Metzler Clement. Launched in February, 1999, this award winning, leading internet resource railroad history website has become a favorite for millions of enthusiasts.
According to the website; “In the years the Museum has been online, it has grown from a few small galleries of pictures to include thousands of digitally restored period stereoviews and photographs, engravings, illustrations, maps, original photographs, ephemera, exhibits,and annotated complete transcriptions of primary source materials such as period and modern articles, first person accounts, and a wide selection of CPRR, UPRR, and government documents, reports, and railroad related federal and state statutes . Much of the site's content is made up of artistically restored digital reproductions of very rare or unique materials generously donated from hundreds of private collections which are not otherwise available to the public.”
Bringing More Than 250 Collections Into One
The Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum is a virtual museum that provides a venue of display - from a single website - for items distributed physically in various locations in more than 250 collections. Some of these photographs are well over 150 years old. For many of these pictures, without the magic of preservation using digitization, they would never be able to ever be placed on public display.
The Museum also attests to the empowerment provided by a dedication in purpose, coupled with the technology to keep, protect, share and connect using photograph scanning. Family operated, privately funded and supported by a wide array of donors, the Museum offers insight into how it is possible to unlock our past in order to enhance our collective futures.
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