Moving West and The Early American Railroad

In 1830, there were only 23 miles of railroads in the entire United States. By 1900, more than 193,000 miles of rail connected the country. What happened? In 1862, the President Lincoln and U.S. Congress made the bold move of authorizing a “Transcontinental Railroad” to hasten America’s expansion across the western frontier. With the Union Pacific spreading west from Nebraska and the Central Pacific driving east from California, Americans would soon have an unprecedented resource for migrating to a new life in the west. On May 10, 1869, the “Golden Spike” was driven, completing the first transcontinental rail route. The links below tell the thrilling story of American rail history and the amazing journey to the west that railroads inspired.