Omaha, Neb. — On July 13, the Union Pacific Railroad was recognized as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), at a ceremony during at Kenefick Park in Omaha, Nebraska. This dedication ceremony took place during Railroad Days, an annual weekend-long celebration with exhibits and railroad-themed attractions on train and track history.
ASCE represents more than 150,000 members of the civil engineering profession worldwide. It is the oldest national engineering society in the United States. ASCE recognizes historically significant civil engineering projects, structures, and sites all over the world. More than 200 projects have earned the prestigious title for creativity and innovation, and almost all are executed under challenging conditions.
“The Union Pacific Railroad is exemplary of efficiency in transportation that also increases production and trade – a win-win for the economy,” said Robin A. Kemper, PE, President, ASCE. “As civil engineers, we take great pride in designing and constructing structures and sites that become legacies of our communities and the Union Pacific Railroad is a prime example of engineering innovation and resourcefulness by the civil engineers responsible for this project.”
This National Historic Landmark signifies the merging of the Central Pacific Railroad, which began in Sacramento, California in 1863 and was completed in 1869 in Promontory, Utah, with the Union Pacific Railroad. This makes it the first railroad to be built across the unpopulated west from Omaha, Nebraska to Promontory, Utah. The two railroads were joined by the driving of a final golden spike on May 10, 1919.
This railroad allowed settlers to make the trip west in just seven days, a trip that previously took up to six months via foot and wagon, making it perilous journey for settlers. The construction of the railroad allowed settlers to reach their destination quicker, encouraging settlement and promoting trade and industry.
“The ASCE Nebraska Section is grateful for this prestigious landmark designation,” said Greg Seib, PE, Past President, ASCE Nebraska Section. “This railroad was crucial to the westward expansion of the United States and I’m excited to see this structure recognized nationally.”
The Union Pacific Railroad was nominated by the ASCE Nebraska Section to the ASCE History and Heritage Committee in 2018 and is the first Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in Nebraska.
For more information about ASCE’s Historic Civil Engineering Landmark Program, go to ASCE.org/landmark-program.