Early American History
December 6, 2011
Transcontinental Railroad The Transcontinental Railroad was a significant event in American History. This railroad was the work of two railroad companies, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific, which built their lines as fast as they could until they met in Utah in 1869. Once this complex building project was completed, the United States was now connected from coast to coast by railroad tracks and led to an era of westward expansion. What few people realize is that this turning point in American history could not have happened if it were not for the immigrant groups who helped to build this remarkable railroad. Irish immigrants mainly built the Union Pacific and Chinese immigrants mainly built the Central Pacific. Before the transcontinental railroad was completed, travel overland by carriage cost about one thousand dollars and took five or six months. It also involved crossing Rocky Mountains and dry desert. Work on the first transcontinental railroad began after President Abraham Lincoln approved the Pacific Railway Act of 1862. This was a landmark law that approved the federal government to financially back the construction of a transcontinental railroad. Due to the American Civil War however the work was delayed for several years. Finally around 1866 the building of the railroad had started. It was a race between the Union Pacific and Central Pacific. The transcontinental railroad was finished on May 10th 1869, at Promontory Point, Utah. This was a turning point in American History because it greatly affected the opening of the West. This linked the East and West coasts by rail, and allowed for the West to be rapidly settled by Americans seeking opportunity and a new life in a new place. It connected the coasts from “sea to shinning sea,” and had a significant impact on travel and the transportation of goods and people. In 1852,...
Cited: Clark, Judith. Americans Gilded Age: An eyewitness History. New York: Facts on File, Inc, 1992. Print.
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