Transcontinental railroad was finished in Promontory, Utah, in 1869. The Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad met at Promontory Point. Leland Stanford drove in a golden spike to mark the completion of the rail lines. The spike was removed and preserved for history. Idea: Children could read more about the difficulties of the two train companies as they built the railroad lines. A good source of information is William Durbin’s The Journal of Sean Sullivan: A Transcontinental Railroad Worker.
Charles Elmer Hires began selling his root beer in 1869 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. The beverage dates back to the colonial era, but Hires marketed his root beer as ”the Greatest Health-Giving Beverage in the World.”
Waffle iron was patented in 1869 by Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York. Various forms of waffle makers were around as early as the 1300’s. However, his stove-top waffle maker had a handle and a clasp to keep the iron closed when it was flipped over. General Electric produced the first electric waffle maker in 1911.
Rutgers beat Princeton in the first intercollegiate football game in 1869. The two teams used a round ball, and each university had its own set of rules. Since the game was at Rutgers, they used the Rutgers rules. Players could only kick the ball; they could not throw the ball or run. The first team to score six points won. Rutgers won by two points.
Suez Canal began operating in 1869. Construction began on April 25, 1859. The canal, which took ten years to construct, connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Today the canal is 120 miles long and about 80 feet deep. It has no locks. Children can find interesting facts and great photographs at: Suez Canal.
Chewing gum was patented in 1869 by W. F. Semple, a dentist from Mount Vernon, Ohio. Today worldwide consumers spend 19 billion dollars a year on gum. The average person chews 300 sticks of gum each year. Children can see Semple’s descriptive patent at: Gum Patent and they can research how gum is made at: Gum Production.
Welcome Stranger Gold Nugget was discovered at Moliagul, Victoria, Australia, in 1869. The largest alluvial gold nugget ever found, the Welcome Stranger weighed almost 2,284 ounces. It measured 24 inches by 12 inches. The nugget was melted down and formed into ingots that were sent to the Bank of England.
Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869 became the first professional baseball team in the United States. Today Major League Baseball counts 30 teams, 29 in the United States and one in Canada. Children could enjoy reading The Everything KIDS’ Baseball Book by Greg Jacobs.