Building west from Omaha after President Abraham Lincoln approved legislation to build a railroad across the frontier, the Union Pacific railroad laid the first tracks of the Transcontinental Railroad on July 10, 1865. Thousands of workers swung hammers and laid rail ties for four years, and on May 10, 1869, the track was complete in Promontory, Utah.
Cities sprang up across the Plains like those following the ABC Burlington railroad. From Crete westward, towns about eight miles apart were named in alphabetical order -- Crete, Dorchester, Exeter, Fairmont, Grafton, Hastings, Inland, Juniata, Kenesaw and Lowell. The Platte River railroad corridor is still chugging along, with Union Pacific, headquartered in Omaha, and BNSF Railway, the Berkshire Hathaway-owned company. Only two states, Texas and Illinois, have more railroad employees than Nebraska.