Negative and Positive Impact of the Transcontinental Railroad

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Negative and Positive Impact of the Transcontinental Railroad

Jeff Neukirch
History 101 American History to 1877
Dr. Kimberly Weathers
26 June 2012

The Impacts of the Transcontinental Railroad On May 10, 1869 as the “Last Spike” struck by Leland Stanford now connected the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads across the United States at Promontory Summit in the Utah Territory. The transcontinental railroads now complete and America is now destined to move to the forefront of the world’s stage. This new railroad system encouraged the growth of American businesses and promoted the development of the nation’s public discourse and intellectual life.1 At the same time, this new railroad affected many people positively
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Because buffalo were becoming extinct, the Native Americans had no real diet and their population began to decline rapidly.3 By 1890, the vast hunting ground that was so hard fought and won by Red Cloud and the Oglala Sioux would be lost. New treaties scattered the Indians to reservations and opened the last great Native American holding to the settlers so steadily branching outward from the iron road. Although the railroad affected the Native Americans negatively, the railroad affected the settlers and immigrant positively.4 Mixed emotions led to be a problem for some time to come. In 1860, the United States had more railroad track than the rest of the world combined. Shipping freight by rail became much more practical and affordable, easily beating out the use of steamboats. The railroad directly led to the increase of urban centers. Chicago, for example, virtually quadrupled its population during the 1850’s. By the 1880’s, there were at least 93, 267 miles of rail that stretched across the plains and just ten years later, there were 163,597 miles of rail. By 1862, Congress passed the Pacific Railroad Act, which gave the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific Railroads responsibility for building the transcontinental railroad. Congress also granted both railroads lands and millions of dollars of government loans. May 10, 1869, after six long years of hard intensive labor, the tracks of the two railroads finally met at
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