Travel after the Golden Spike Ceremony

Dining car illustration from Leslie's Illustrated

The transcontinental railroad created a revolution in travel between Utah and the rest of the country. Not only was the railroad cheaper and much faster for Utahns, but it brought numerous tourists eager to see what was considered in the East to be a wild and exotic place in 1869. The Union Pacific encouraged tourism, especially the opportunity to view the interesting geology of the West. Now tourists came west not only to see the landscape, but also the Mormons and their “peculiar” institutions, such as polygamy.

Woodcut illustration in Harper's Weekly, June 5, 1869.

The railroad ended the overland stagecoach line, which had been transporting people from Salt Lake to Omaha, depending on the weather, in about ten to thirty days. For Brigham Young and the LDS Church, the ease of travel for new converts was perhaps the greatest benefit. Immediately after the Golden Spike Ceremony, the Deseret News declared that the train would usher in a “new era in the gathering of the Saints to Zion.”