One of the things that made the wild West so wild was the lack of communications.
Much of the West had already been explored by the time of the Civil War, but laying railroad tracks called for serious study of the terrain.
A route had to be found to connect the East and West coasts, and Utah was right in the middle.
Omaha (Nebraska) and Sacramento (California) were connected by telegraph lines in 1861.
The Pony Express brought both mail and news into, out of, and through Utah in 1863 and 1864.
Communications were slowly getting better.
Then came the railroad.
On May 10, 1869, the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific railroad lines met at the golden spike at Promontory, Utah.
The “iron horse” now ran right through the Western frontier.
This opened a cheaper and safer way for people to travel, communicate by mail, and ship goods.
Soon a whole network of tracks would be added to make Utah’s rich mineral resources—like coal and copper—available to the rest of the nation and earn this state the title of “Crossroads of the West.”
The moment captured on Utah’s quarter is truly one that changed the state and the nation forever!
Reverse: Two trains meet at the golden spike before Utah mountains on this quarter.
Obverse: All the new quarters show the traditional portrait of George Washington, with some minor changes. The bust is smaller and the legends have been moved. Place your mouse over the image to see the former design.