The First Transcontinental Railroad
World Civilizations II
March 7th, 2016
The gold rush in California along with the Nevada Silver Rush in the mid nineteenth century sparked westward expansion within the United States. In search of economic prosperity, US Americans moved further and further west. As the population of western cities increased, the need for resources as well as transportation arose. In response to this, Congress passed the Pacific Railroad Bill, which gave financial support to the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroad companies in 1862. Seven years later in 1869, the Central Pacific Railroad Company from Sacramento, California collaborated with the Union Pacific Railroad Company from Omaha, Nebraska to connect the mid-west to the west. Meeting in Promontory Summit, Utah, the two companies linked together to complete what would be known as the first transcontinental railroad in The United States. This railroad system that is still used today, introduced an efficient way to transport goods over long distances. Furthermore, people were now able to travel from coast to coast much quicker and far cheaper. More efficient transcontinental business travel promoted direct growth through expanding markets and less expensive distribution, as well as increased possibilities for partnership and exchange of ideas. The building of the first transcontinental railroad linked the developed eastern part of the United States to the pacific seaboard. It was a seven year process that made traveling across the United States cheaper, safer, and faster than any known land or water route. The last spike was driven into the tracks in 1869 and finished the project that cost millions of dollars, all the while employing thousands of workers. By officially unifying the United States, the railroad expanded settlement, furthered the decline of Native American culture, and created markets.
The Pacific Railway Act was signed on July 1st of 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln. 1 The law provided federal government support for the building of the first transcontinental railroad that which was completed seven years later in May of 1869. 2 The process of building this railroad was long, tiring, and required much adaptation to be successful. In 1849, gold was discovered in California, which caused a large number of people from the east coast of the United States along with other people from across the world to flood California in search of fortune; this event was later deemed “The California Gold Rush”. 3 Not too long after this occurred, California became a state in 1550. 4 The annexation of this land mass the newly developed country presented problems to the United States because it was the only part of the United States that wasn’t connected to the rest; it almost seemed like a remote island thousands of miles away.
The government acted rather quickly and decided that there was a need to unite the country by building a railroad that would allow for...