On May 10, 1869, a golden spike was driven into the rails at Promontory Summit in then-Utah Territory, with a silver hammer, commemorating the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. The line linked the eastern and western rail systems for the first time, making travel that had previously taken months and was fraught with peril into a trip that lasted a matter of days. The emergence of cross-country trains changed industry and often changed the fortunes of those who traveled.
Musicians have not overlooked the magic and romance of the rails, and we’ve put together a collection of train songs in our new playlist to start off this month’s Trains and Tracks theme, from Cat Stevens’s Peace Train to the Monkees’ Last Train to Clarksville and from the Doobie Brothers’ Long Train Runnin’ to Gladys Knight’s Midnight Train to Georgia.
POETRY PROMPT: Write a poem about a moment of “transcontinental” change, real or imagined—a golden spike or a silver hammer, what the rails connected.
Sometimes we feature your poems in Every Day Poems, with your permission of course. Thanks for writing with us!