On May 10, 1869, the greatest commercial and transportation innovation of America’s first century was completed—the transcontinental railroad. That day, the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads met at Promontory Summit, Utah, to drive in the golden spike to complete the engineering marvel and mark a historic turning point in U.S. history.
The construction of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific ignited rapid growth and economic changes—settlement of the West and establishing many new Western industries, including railroad tourism. Lucky for all of us 150 years later, the railway companies, eager to turn a profit for their owners and investors, created Western tourism—in addition to their mainline profit centers of passenger transportation, settlement and land sales, freight and mail—to pad their profit sheets.
In honor of the sesquicentennial of the transcontinental railroad and the creation of the Western travel industry, True West’s travel department in 2019 will highlight the best places to stay, eat and drink across the West.
Kicking it all off, the 2019 True West Ultimate Historic Travel Guide will be updated with recommendations on historic restaurants, saloons and hotels. Anyone who wants to discover a region from the ground up—and immerse in its local history—will enjoy relaxing and soaking up the past in a historic restaurant, saloon, hotel, lodge, inn or guest ranch. The following guide is not intended to be comprehensive but, rather, an inspiration for our readers to experience history firsthand at local favorites that hosted famous—and not so famous—visitors for the past 150 years. Happy Trails!