The TransContinental Railroad Essay

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The TransContinental Railroad “If any act symbolized the taming of the Northwest frontier, it was the driving of the final spike to complete the nation’s first transcontinental railroad.”1 The first railroad west of the Mississippi River was opened on December 23, 1852. Five miles long, the track ran from St. Louis to Cheltanham, Missouri. Twenty-five years prior, there were no railroads in the United States; twenty-five years later, railroads joined the east and west coasts from New York to San Francisco.2 No other single factor contributed more the commercial and social development of the Pacific Northwest than the arrival of the railroad. For the first time in history, people could get to the west coast in a matter of…show more content…
Each railroad was to receive a 200-foot-wide right-of-way and sections of public lands to help finance construction. The Northern Pacific’s charter originally provided ten alternate sections per mile in states through which it passed and 20 sections per mile in territories. If sufficient lands were not available within this grant, other sections could be selected as in-lieu from a secondary zone which reached back from the tracks another 20 miles.8 These land grants contributed greatly to commercial development and growth of towns along the track routes. A fourth railroad was the Southern Pacific, which was routed from New Orleans to Los Angeles. The Great Northern Railway was the fifth transcontinental line. The Great Northern, along with the Northern Pacific, had the greatest impact on developing the northwest. However, unlike the Northern Pacific, it was not a land-grand railroad. It did not obtain federal loans to help in its construction as did the Union
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