"Francaviglia has taken a fresh approach to a familiar subject in this important study of a site that forms one of the true building blocks of American history."
In Over the Range, Richard Francaviglia considers the geographical-historical context of the completion of the transcontinental railroad which culminated in the driving of the golden spike in May 1869. Promontory Summit, the remote mountain range that extends south into the Great Salt Lake, was made significant by the transportation corridor that first linked America’s coasts, but two centuries of human activity are also connected to the area’s landscape.
Francaviglia reviews the historical events that led up to May 10, 1869 as well as the geographic history of the event and where it occurred, sharing the stories of the transportation corridor that developed across
Promontory and of the society of people who settled that remote, arid frontier, many of them connected to the railroad. Reaching back farther than 1869, he carries the story forward to the development of Golden Spike National Historic Site. At the center of his narrative is the conjunction of a unique area (the Promontory Mountains and the Great Salt Lake) and the impact and legacy, particularly regionally, of this special event.
Copiously illustrated with color maps as well as historical and scenic photos, Over the Range brings a geographer’s perspective on place and society, a railroad enthusiast’s knowledge of trains, a cartographic historian’s understanding of the knowledge and experience embedded in maps, and a desert lover’s appreciation of the striking basin-and-range landscape that borders the Great Salt Lake to the larger story of the Last Spike.