From 1863 to 1869, two railroad companies charged pell-mell from Omaha, Nebraska and Sacramento, California. The Union Pacific raced west over the Great Plains while the smaller Central Pacific slogged its way through the rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains headed east. The goal was for each company to lay down the most track before they met at a tiny hill called Promontory, Utah. The story of the effort to build the first transcontinental railroad in history is a saga of patriotism and greed, industry, and scandal. This is how it happened.