Moving the New Nation by Rail

You have a new country that spans thousands of miles from the Atlantic to Pacific Oceans. You also have acquired new territories that are prime areas to be for development. But the biggest problem facing the United States in these early years was how to connect the population centers of the east to the new territories of the west. The answer was to create the first transcontinental railroad.

In 1862, the United States government approved a series of acts that provided for a railway to span the width of the country. The Pacific Railroad Acts provided for land to place the railway and for means to create the railroad. To create the transcontinental railroad, the government commissioned companies to build the railroad. The Central Pacific Railway would build westward, and the Union Pacific would build eastward.

The building of the railway began in 1863, and was completed on May 10, 1869 when the last spike was driven at Promontory Summit in Utah. With the completion of the first transcontinental railway, it provided an easier access from east to west to allow people to settle in the areas. Traveling by rail was easier and safer then previous journeys by horseback or covered wagon. The railway and subsequent additions allowed the western portion of the United States to be growing rapidly.

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