Transcontinental Railroad History

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The Transcontinental Railway was a huge undertaking for the still young country, and took many men to complete, and reshaped the country as we know it. This will examine how the Transcontinental Railway was built, who built it and the problems that were encountered during the build. It will also look at how the railroad impacted the country economically. And last it will tell how it helped settle the western frontier, and how those people lived. Before the building of the Transcontinental Railway travel across the continent was slow. It would take a lot of money, and take as long as 5 to 6 months to get from coast to coast (Mintz, 2013). One could also travel by sea around the tip of South America, but that journey was full of danger. Once…show more content…
The building of the railroad would start when President Abraham Lincoln passed the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 (Mintz, 2013). The government would pay $16,000 per flat mile, $32,000 for hilly mile, and $48,000 for mountain mile (Topic Page: Transcontinental Railroad, 2014). The companies were also given 16,000 acres of land on each side of every mile the laid (Topic Page: Transcontinental Railroad, 2014). The construction was undertaken by two railroad companies, the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad. The Union Pacific started in Omaha, NE and would build west, and the Central Pacific would build east starting from Sacramento, CA (Topic Page: Transcontinental Railroad, 2014). The railroad was to cross over 2000 miles of open plains, desert, and mountains of solid granite (Mintz, 2013). The construction would take eight long years and end on May 10, 1869, at Promontory Summit, Utah with the driving of a golden…show more content…
One of the biggest ones faced by the Central Pacific Company was how to get across the Sierra Nevada mountain range. To conquer this problem, engineers used holes drilled into the rock and filled them with black powder to clear the way (The Transcontinental Railroad, 2012). Once they got into the high sierras black power was not strong enough, and they had to find something more powerful. Nitroglycerin was the solution to their problem. It was illegal to transport nitroglycerin, so what Central Pacific did was hire chemist James Howden to manufacture it on the site as it was needed (The Transcontinental Railroad, 2012). A secondary hazard of working in the mountains came from above it the form or blizzards, rock slides, and large ravines (The Transcontinental Railroad, 2012). On the Union Pacific front they faced constant fear of Native American attacks. The Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes who were seeing their home land taken from them and changed used war parties to try and stop the construction (Immigration, Railroads, and the West,
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