Explanatory Note: Scholars, students, and fans of Ayn Rand ’s masterwork, Atlas Shrugged , often find it difficult to grasp the complex details of its plot, and to find temporal reference points for key events and relationships among its many characters. For their benefit, then, I have prepared this timeline of the key events that are depicted, or alluded to, in the novel.
The timeline of Atlas Shrugged can be gleaned from clues scattered throughout the novel.
By such means, I was able to fill in most of the chronology. However, preparing this timeline was not without difficulties or uncertainties.
|-9||Hank Rearden born|
|-3||James Taggart born|
|-2||Philip Rearden born|
|0||BIRTHS OF JOHN GALT, FRANCISCO D’ANCONIA, RAGNAR DANNESKJOLD|
|2||Dagny Taggart born|
|4||Eddie Willers born|
|11||Dagny, age 9, decides she’ll run Taggart Transcontinental one day|
|12||Francisco, 12, takes job at Taggart Transcontinental; Galt, 12, leaves home.
|14||Dagny, 12, meets Eddie at railroad tracks; tells him of her future plans|
|16||Francisco, Galt, and Ragnar, all 16, enroll in Patrick Henry University|
|18||Dagny, 16, takes job on the railroad as a night station operator|
|19||Dagny, 17, has debut party; in summer, begins affair with Francisco, 19|
|20||Galt, Ragnar, and Francisco, all 20, graduate from college. Francisco buys copper foundry|
|21||Rearden, 30, founds Rearden Ore; Francisco, 21, takes over N. Y. office of d’Anconia Copper|
|23||Francisco’s father dies, and at 23 he inherits d’Anconia Copper|
|24||Robert Stadler, 40, endorses the establishment of the State Science Institute; Galt, 24, condemns him and quits his graduate studies in physics|
|26||Rearden Steel established. Rearden, 35, begins work on Rearden Metal.|
|27||The 20th Century Motor Co. is taken over by the Starnes heirs.|
|Spring||GALT, 27, QUITS AND LAUNCHES STRIKE. Francisco joins the strike, then Ragnar, then Hugh Akston. Francisco leaves Dagny. Galt goes to work as common laborer at Taggart Transcontinental.|
|28||Ellis Wyatt launches Wyatt Oil. Richard Halley joins strike.|
|Dec. 10||Rearden marries Lillian.|
|30||Twentieth Century Motor Company closes its doors.|
|31||Midas Mulligan quits and vanishes. James Taggart takes over Taggart Transcontinental. d’Anconia Copper begins mining in Mexico; San Sebastian Line launched.|
|34||Dagny threatens to quit the railroad, is promoted to Vice President of Operations|
|36||Sept. 2||THE NOVEL OPENS. Dagny orders Rearden Metal for Colorado track. Owen Kellogg quits. The first heat of Rearden Metal is poured.
|Oct. 25||“Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule.” San Sebastian mines prove worthless.|
|Dec. 10||Reardens’ eighth anniversary party.|
|37||Winter||Equalization of Opportunity Bill passes legislature.|
|Spring||Dwight Sanders quits. Dagny sees stranger’s shadow outside offices of the John Galt Line.
|July 22||First run on the John Galt Line. Dagny and Rearden begin their affair.|
|September||Dagny and Rearden discover remnants of Galt’s motor.|
|Fall||Dagny’s fruitless quest to find the motor’s inventor.|
|December||Mouch’s directives. Wyatt sets oil fields ablaze and joins the strike.|
|38||May||Dagny discusses motor with Stadler. Quentin Daniels hired to rebuild it.|
|Sept. 2||James Taggart’s wedding to Cherryl; Francisco explains the moral meaning of money to Rearden.|
|Sept. 3||Lillian discovers that Rearden has been unfaithful.|
|October||Floyd Ferris confronts Rearden about Dannager’s illegal coal sales; Rearden and Dannager indicted. Dannager visited by “the destroyer” and joins strike. Francisco tries vainly to recruit Rearden at his mills.|
|Thanksgiving||Rearden resists his family’s moral assaults; next day: wins his trial.|
|December||Rearden visits Francisco, orders copper from d’Anconia Copper; shipment is sunk three days later by Ragnar.
|39||Feb. 15||Taggart Board votes to close John Galt line|
|Mar. 31||Dagny and Rearden go to Colorado to close the John Galt Line|
|April||Lillian discovers Dagny is Rearden’s lover.|
|May 1||Directive 10-289 announced. Dagny quits, goes to cabin in Berkshires.|
|May 15||Ferris extorts Rearden’s signature on Rearden Metal Gift Certificates; Orren Boyle’s mills destroyed by Ragnar.
|May 26||Taggart Tunnel disaster. Francisco visits Dagny to recruit her, but she rushes back to N. Y. to deal with disaster. Rearden confronts Francisco over Dagny; Dagny gets Quentin Daniels’ letter of resignation; Eddie discovers Dagny-Rearden affair, and reveals it to Galt.
|May 31||Dagny chases “the destroyer” by plane, crashes into Galt’s Gulch.|
|June||Dagny in the valley; reconciles with Francisco; falls in love with Galt.|
|June 29||Dagny leaves Galt’s Gulch, returns to N. Y.|
|July||First public demonstration of Project X.|
|Sept. 2||Francisco destroys d’Anconia Copper and vanishes.|
|Oct. 15||Dagny meets Galt in Taggart Transcontinental tunnels, begins affair.|
|Oct. 31||Rearden’s personal property attached by the government|
|Nov. 4||Rearden meets with government officials; Rearden Steel attacked by violent gang; Rearden saved by Francisco, recruited to join the strike.|
|Nov. 22||GALT’S RADIO SPEECH|
|40||Jan. 22||Rearden Steel closes its doors.|
|Feb.- March||Galt refuses to join government; tortured at State Science Institute; then is rescued by his friends. LIGHTS OF NEW YORK GO OUT.|
|March||Galt, in the valley, decides it’s time to return to the world.|