|Northern Pacific Railroad Company Common Stock Certificate
12 1/8 Inches by 7 7/8 Inches
(30.9cm x 19.8cm)
New York City, United States
Establishing a permanent connection between the east and west coasts of North America was the key to the settlement of the frontier. Lewis and Clark and their Corps of
Discovery Expedition in 1804 - 1806 were the first to purposefully make the journey with an eye tot he future. By the 1850s wagon trains filled with settlers were spending
months making the trip. Between 1860 and 1861, the short lived Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company - better known as the Pony Express - established
a land based postal route to the west coast for the first time. A letter could reach the San Francisco in ten days instead of the many weeks via ship around South America's
treacherous Cape Horn. The Pony Express was quickly eclipsed by the transcontinental telegraph which sent its first messages - at near the speed of light - in October 1861. One
of the first messages was from California Chief Justice Stephen Field in San Francisco to Abraham Lincoln in which he assures the president of California's allegiance to the
Union - the Civil War was already raging in the east.
The near instantaneous sending of messages was one thing but people were another. To transport people quickly and as safely possible the country's burgeoning railroads
seemed the only and quite logical answer. In 1869 the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads made history when they linked up at Promontory Summit, Utah with the driving
of a ceremonial golden spike. The line liked Omaha, Nebraska with a terminus in San Francisco, California.
There was a military aspect to the railroads which cannot be overlooked. As was made all too evident by the North's overwhelming superiority in and use of railroads during the
Civil War in the transport of troops and war material, so to could it be used to help bring about the final subjugation of the last unconquered Native American tribes.
Additional lines where need and northern and southern routes where planned and opened. The Southern Pacific was a somewhat piecemeal affair via the acquisition of other
smaller established railroads and the leasing of the assets of others. It connected St. Louis, Missouri and New Orleans, Louisiana with Los Angeles, California via El Paso,
Texas, and Tucson, Arizona.
The Northern Pacific Railroad was chartered by congress on July 2, 1864 but it would not be until the 1880s - when the stock certificate was issued - that the big push to the
Pacific Coast was completed when a final link to Puget Sound was made on May 27, 1888.