Meeting of the Rails
Joslyn Art Museum celebrates the 150th anniversary of a railroad milestone with a traveling photography exhibition.
Anew photography exhibition at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska, celebrates 150 years since the meeting of two trains at Promontory Point, Utah, effectively linking the West
Coast with the East Coast by rail. The Race to Promontory: The Transcontinental Railroad and the American West is a traveling exhibition that recognizes the importance of the momentous event and celebrates what it signified for the country.
The exhibition, which opens at Joslyn Art Museum on October 6, is a partnership between the museum, Union Pacific and also the Union Pacific Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The show will present photographs and stereographs of Andrew Joseph Russell and Alfred A. Hart drawn exclusively from the Union Pacific Historic Collection. The images represent the largest collection in the world of original photographs documenting the construction of the transcontinental railroad between 1866 and 1869.
The Race to Promontory features 50 framed Imperial plate albumen prints by Russell, including images from his album,
The Great West Illustrated, as well as rare, unpublished prints from the Union Pacific Collection, including Russell’s famous image from Promontory Summit, East and West Shaking Hands. Also on display are 108 stereograph cards by Hart, along with two stereograph viewers that will allow museum visitors to view Hart and Russell images in three dimensions.
Highlighting the Joslyn installation will also be the three original ceremonial railroad spikes that were presented during the festivities at Promontory Summit on May 10, 1869. Reunited for the first time in 150 years, the Gold Spike, the Silver Spike, and the Arizona Spike were given to railroad officials to celebrate the laying of the last rail and have not been displayed together since that day. Two of the spikes, the Gold Spike and the Silver Spike, are in the collection of the Cantor Museum at Stanford University, and the Arizona Spike is part of the collections of the Museum of the City of New York. The Joslyn leg of the exhibition continues through January 6, 2019. It will then travel to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in
Salt Lake City and the Crocker
Art Museum in Sacramento, California. For more information, visit www.joslyn.org.
Alfred A. Hart (1816-1908), Locomotive on Trestle, near American River, 1865, albumen stereograph. Courtesy Union Pacific Railroad Museum.
Andrew J. Russell (1830-1902), East and West Shaking Hands at Laying Last Rail, 1869, albumen print. Courtesy Union Pacific Railroad Museum. The ceremony spotlighted Union Pacific locomotive No. 119 meeting Central Pacific locomotive Jupiter. From left, shaking hands, are Samuel S. Montague, chief engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad, and General Grenville M. Dodge, chief engineer of the Union Pacific Railroad.