In honor of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, the @smithsonian has invited us to share information about this momentous occasion from our collections for #Transcontinental150. Seen here is “Through to the Pacific” (1870” from Currier & Ives. In 1865, the New York Tribune editor, Horace Greeley, stated in an editorial, "Go West, young man, go West." To encourage westward exploration, newspapers provided written descriptions of the areas west of the Mississippi River while Currier & Ives provided visual images of the beauty of the land. Expanding on the popularity of bird's-eye views, Currier & Ives depicted the joining of railroads at Promontory Point, Utah, by showing a train traveling through the valley on its journey to the Pacific Ocean. Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives, as well as most of the artists who worked for the firm, never traveled west of the Mississippi River. Their images of the West often romanticized the land and its people and the prints were eagerly purchased by Easterners, many of whom had also never traveled to the areas pictured in the lithographs.
Published by Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives
American, 1813-1888, and American, 1824-1895
“Through to the Pacific,” 1870
Gift of Lenore B. and Sidney A. Alpert, supplemented with Museum Acquisition Funds