First Transcontinental Railroad

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The building of the first transcontinental railroad by the Central Pacific and Union Pacific
Railroad companies was a monumental feat. Plans for the first railroad had begun well before the
Civil War. In fact, the Central Pacific started building east from Sacramento, California, in 1863.
But the Civil War delayed progress until 1865. Then the Union Pacific started out from Omaha,
Nebraska, and the two companies worked towards each other to cover almost 2000 miles.
(Gilded age) And in 1869 the first through train carrying 500 passengers arrived in Omaha within hours of completion of the link. This event was greeted with parades, fireworks, and general hoopla from coast to coast. Like most other technological advances of that industrial era,
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Even today, railroads move millions of tons of materials and products far more efficiently than they can be moved by any other means. Railroads no longer are used as means of travel as they once were, but they remain a vital part of the American economy even today. There were some major points of Railroad
Construction that increased the size of the industrial revolution and made it what it was. These were: The building of the railroads which naturally connected and caused the settlement of the
West and the gradual destruction of Indian cultures. Also three natural resources were needed to prosper in new territory: land, water, and timber, but out west two are missing, and the railroads carried wood to the plains areas. Then the Homestead Act of 1862, which gave settlers 160 acres of free land, and under certain conditions, that encouraged settlement, some lasted and grew and some did not. Then the Pacific Railway Act of 1862 set the wheels of railroad expansion moving, both to the North and South in spurs from the main line of the railroad. The Land Grant System gave millions of acres to railroad builders. Railroads enhanced the value of the land
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Industrialization in America, was slow to start because of the Civil War, but it took off during the last half of the 19th century, so that by the year 1900 American steel production was far ahead of the rest of the world. In the United States, we had over 200,000 miles of railroads by
1914, which was more than the rest of the world put together. American farm products and manufactured goods were being shipped abroad in a growing American fleet of merchant marine vessels. Among the noteworthy industrialist giants, who were known as the “Robber Barons”, for the reason of their business practices, these names are known today and the decedents of their products are still in use today: John D. Rockefeller: Oil, John Jacob Astor: Real Estate and Fur,
Henry Clay Frick: Steel, Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt: Shipping and Railroads, Jay Gould and James Fisk: Railroads and Finance, Andrew Carnegie: Railroads and Steel, Collis P.
Huntington, Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, and George Mortimer Pullman: Railroads,
Andrew Mellon, and John Pierpont Morgan: Finance. And Thomas Alva Edison and the
Business of Invention: Edison is not generally included in the category of “robber barons,”

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