Transcontinental Railroad 1869



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The Transcontinental Railroad was the first major railroad in the US, stretching from California to Nebraska. Construction was started before the Civil War ended, and was finished on May 10, 1869. Completion was almost a party with people getting “sloppy,” but none of the Irish or Chinese immigrants that worked on the railroads were making a fools of themselves.

“It was a very hilarious occasion; everybody had all they wanted to drink…”

The ceremony at Promontory culminated with Governor Stanford of California (representing the Central Pacific Railroad) and Thomas Durant (president of the Union Pacific Railroad) taking turns pounding a Golden Spike into the final tie that united the railroad’s east and west sections. As the spike was struck, telegraph signals simultaneously alerted San Francisco and New York City, igniting a celebratory cacophony of tolling bells and cannon fire in each city.


The goal of the Transcontinental Railroad was to connect the industrialized East with the ever expanding West. Besides connecting the country, the building of the road provided mostly Irish and Chinese immigrants that came to the US, with jobs. Although there was readily available jobs for immigrants, they were treated unfairly and experienced man hardships and unfair working conditions while building the railroad.

Another negative to the Transcontinental Railroad was that it continued the conflict between the Native Americans and the Colonists. Building the railroad across the Midwest would further drive Native Americans into reservations as quickly as a couple decades  early. I’m sure that the railroad had a major impact on where Native Americans are settled now and that it drastically shaped their future homes. If forcing Native Americans out of their homes wasn’t enough, the colonists almost completely killed the population of wild buffalo that roamed the Midwest, therefore killing off the Native Americans’ main food supply as well.

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RR Buffalo shoot

Even though the Transcontinental Railroad was good for the White colonists/imperialists who spread across the country with a proud sense of “Manifest Destiny”, there were many downsides as well which mainly included immigrants, Native Americans and the waste of natural resources. It truly is a white man’s destiny paid for by the  exploitation of resources and lives of the non-white man.

Composited digital restoration of engraved cov...
Composited digital restoration of engraved cover illustrations from the 1881 Timetable and Map of the Union and Central Pacific Railroad Line “The Great American Over-Land Rouie” Scanning, digital reconstruction, compositing, and restoration by (uploader) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Theodore Judah (1826-1863), American businessm...
Theodore Judah (1826-1863), American businessman who co-founded the Central Pacific Railroad. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)