The Significant Impact of the Transcontinental Railroad on American Society

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The Transcontinental Railroad was one of the most ambitious engineering projects, economic stimulants, and efficient methods of transportation in the early United States. If completed, the United States would be truly be united from east to west. The purpose of this paper is to examine how the Transcontinental Railroad helped develop new opportunities for many aspects of American life.

The Transcontinental Railroad was the largest project the United States had ever seen. Due to lack of technology, the enormous size of the project, and the environmental conditions, the railroad seemed to be an impossible task. This construction project posed a huge challenge to those working on it. The railroad’s route would span nearly seven hundred
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The amount of materials was also immense. Rails, railroad ties, lumber, and provisions needed to be hauled over five hundred miles to get to where it needed to be. The route had no natural provisions, so food and water needed to be hauled from 150 miles away to get to construction crews. In order to understand what it means to build this railroad, one must understand all the obstacles railroad companies and workers had to overcome. In Walt Winter’s The First Transcontinental Railroad, Enid Johnson says,
…In 1869, after a long, bitter and often terrifying struggle against Indian attacks, brutal weather, floods, labor shortages, political chicanery, lawlessness and a war, the first transcontinental railroad finally became a reality. Now the way was open for vast expansion and social changes that would make America the industrial giant of the world. ... One of the great engineering feats of history and ... a fascinating chapter in the development of our country. This engineering feat paved the way for expansion and social changes that would make America one of the industrial giants of the world.

This railroad led to an economic boom during and soon after its construction. The needs of the railroad generated hundreds of thousands of new jobs, new mines and new markers. Railroad companies employed thousands of workmen to survey an maintain the rails. Rails had to manufactured out of steel ,

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