Transcontinental Railroad

Transcontinental railroad

Transcontinental railroad

In June of 1845, Asa Whitney led a team to inspect the proposed central route. She printed maps and pamphlets to gain support for the Transcontinental Railroad. In 1862, the Pacific Railroad Act chartered the Central and Union Pacific Railroad Companies, and gave them the task of building a transcontinental railroad that links the United States from east to west. The House of Representatives voted on May 6 and the Senate on June 20. Lincoln signed it into law on July 1. Over the next seven years, they would build  towards each other from Sacramento, California on one side and Omaha, Nebraska on the other side, they met at Promontory, Utah, on May 10, 1869. 

Central Pacific laid 690 miles of track and Union Pacific laid 1,087 miles of track. For laying down the tracks, they needed blacksmiths, carpenters, engineers, masons, surveyors, teamsters, and cooks. The majority of the Union Pacific track heading westward was built by Irish laborers, by Mormons in Utah, and by veterans after the war. Most White men were paid 1-3 dollars per day, but workers from China received less and were supervised by Whites. The Transcontinental Railroad followed the Platte River. The Transcontinental railroad replaced the slower wagon trains, Pony Express and stagecoach lines that crossed the country by land and sea around the southern tip of South America.

The southern route was completed in 1881, giving it the distinction of being America’s second transcontinental railroad. Chinese immigrants did most of the work on the Central Pacific track. They were paid by the mile; it was $16,000 over an easy grade, $32,000 over high plains, and $48,000 over the mountains. So Thomas Clark Durant saw to it that many miles of railroad were built in the countryside, mostly on his land and never venturing further than 40 miles from Omaha for 2 ½ years. On May 10, 1869 the governor Stanford drove the Golden Spike or the Last Spike symbolizing the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.


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