From the beginning, then, the building of the transcontinental railroad was set up in terms of a competition between the two companies. All were ambitious businessmen with no prior experience with railroads, engineering or construction. They borrowed heavily to finance the project, and exploited legal loopholes to get the most possible funds from the government for their planned track construction. Disillusioned with his partners, Judah planned to recruit new investors to buy them out, but he caught yellow fever while crossing the Isthmus of Panama on his way east and died in Novembersoon after the Central Pacific had spiked its first rails to ties in Sacramento.
The First Transcontinental Railroad was built crossing the western half of America and it was pieced together between and It was 1, miles long and served for the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States to be connected by rail for the first time in history.
The Transcontinental Railroad was also known as the Pacific Railroad for a while and later on as the Overland Route — after the main passenger transport service that operated the line. The idea of building such a line was present in America for decades before the construction was authorized by the Pacific Railroad Acts of and This was the time of the American Civil War and the southern Democrats who opposed the idea before were now absent from Congress so the Republicans used the opportunity to vote the construction of the transcontinental railroad without them.
They chose two independent companies, the Union Pacific Railroad and Central Pacific Railroad and supported the project by issuing US government bonds. The land through which the railroad was supposed to pass was mainly worthless desert, although some portions of good farming land had to be crossed as well.
The workers involved in the building operations were mainly army veterans from the Civil War and immigrants from Ireland. Engineers and supervisors were mostly Union Army veterans, experienced in operating and maintaining trains during the Civil War. The Transcontinental Railroad was finished and opened for traffic on May 10, The problem was that her quest for that West took place only ina few decades too late, many Americans must have thought.
That year the wildest encounter for most people would be grappling with economic gloom and doom. At this isolated airfield the passengers waited out the tempest. After a restless night of little sleep, the group flew east again the next day only to be forced by dense fog to make a second emergency landing, this time in Laramie.
The Transformers Like a skilled magician, the railroads of the 19 th century had transformed America in ways that awed and dazzled onlookers. Consider, for example, how surveyors used precisely calibrated instruments to mathematically quantify the West as never before in terms of curvature, elevation and distance as they staked out prospective railroad lines.
The process of transforming the West continued, and even accelerated, once actual railroad operations began. Approximation was no longer good enough in the West the railroads made. Something seemingly so simple as the space between the rails could not vary by more than a fraction of an inch, or the locomotives and cars would derail.
Over time, and with occasional prodding from the federal and state regulators, everything from paper thickness to envelope sizes in company offices was standardized within the railroad industry. No railroad company tolerated a drunken employee endangering the safety of passengers or fellow employees.
Conversely, loyal employees who avoided intoxicating beverages received preferential treatment in promotion. No ambitious railroader dared to spend a leisurely evening at a boisterous saloon, one of the institutions synonymous with the Wild West.
A Matter of Time In the fall of a group of well dressed ladies and gentlemen gathered with much fanfare in the wilds of Montana Territory. In their stylishness and cool elegance they looked conspicuously out of place. Some had traveled from as far as England, the Netherlands, and Germany to this isolated patch of sagebrush and sand on the banks of the Clark Fork River, and they had done so willingly.
Guests of the Northern Pacific Railroad had traveled to Gold Creek aboard five luxury trains to witness the driving of a last spike that mark ed the formal opening of the first transcontinental rails linking the Great Lakes and Mississippi Valley with Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean.
After the loud band music, the flowery oratory, and the last sledgehammer blows drove a golden spike into place, the Glittering Ones reboarded their special trains and left Gold Creek, most of them never to return to Montana. The day had been rich in symbolism.
For one moment the old Wild West popularly associated with Indians, fur trappers and pioneer settlers stood face to face with the new West of high finance, nationwide mark ets and rapid advances in communication and transportation. A little more than two months later inon another day rich in symbolism, North Americans collectively reset their clocks and watches to standard time, and like the symbolism of business moguls driving a golden spike in the wilds of Montana, the new system of timekeeping was an unadorned statement of railroad power.
Our present time system was invented to resolve the confusion caused for the railroads of North America by dozens of local time standards—hundreds, in fact.
Time back in the days of trail travel to Oregon and California needed only be measured casually by noting the position of the sun or by mark ing off each passing day. Every spring in the s and s individuals and families traveled west by wagon train, leaving the familiar Missouri Valley and rolling slowly across the lush grasses of the Great Plains.
Their collective goal was to reach Golden California or fertile Oregon by September or October before snowfalls blocked mountain passes. The Donner Party resorted to cannibalism because it lost the seasonal race to the West Coast and became trapped by deep snow in the Sierras during the winter of Before the fall of when the railroads created standard time, local variations prevailed throughout the West, and in most places approximate time was good enough to meet the demands of daily life.The enormous job of building the western section of the transcontinental railway fell to year-old Andrew Onderdonk, an American engineer and construction contractor who had just completed the San Francisco sea wall.
The Timeline of U.S.A Railway History depends upon the definition of a railway, as follows: A means of conveyance of passengers and goods on wheeled vehicles running on rails, also known as tracks. THE STORY OF THE FIRST AMERICAN TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD AN EDUCATIONAL TOOLKIT Museum, is a comprehensive guide for telling the story of the first American transcontinental railroad.
In addition to bringing to life this important achievement in American capturing the adventure and excitement of building the transcontinental railroad.
Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad [Stephen E. Ambrose] on attheheels.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Nothing Like It in the World gives the account of an unprecedented feat of engineering, vision. Transcontinental Railroad summary: The First Transcontinental Railroad was built crossing the western half of America and it was pieced together between and It was 1, miles long and served for the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States to be connected by rail for the first.
Union Pacific operates North America's premier railroad franchise, covering 23 states in the western two-thirds of the United States.