Charles Williams deserves a significant place in this nation’s history of the westward movement. He wasn’t a great senator, a great explorer, a great general, or the head of a trading empire. He was just the chief machinist of the Pacific Railroad in the early 1850s. He made a significant voyage, but his feat has been forgotten in the history of the West. His trip was short – only about four miles. Almost two decades before the golden spike was driven at Promontory, Utah, Charles Williams made the first train run west of the Mississippi River, bound for the Pacific Ocean.
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