Central Pacific Railroad - Wikipedia
According to Historians, Union Pacific won the great race into Utahbeating Central Pacific Railroads; however, Union Pacific paid aheavy cost. Many lives were. On this day in , the presidents of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads meet in Promontory, Utah, and drive a ceremonial last spike into a rail line that connects their railroads. This made transcontinental railroad travel possible for the first time in U.S. history. When East Meets West: The Last Spike of the Transcontinental Railroad . The two companies involved were the Union Pacific and Central.
If you journeyed overland, bandits and belligerent natives might ravage your wagons, foul weather or unexpected hazards might strand you in mountains, and for any number of reasons—up to and including Divine Wrath—your party might drop from thirst, hunger, or pestilence, leaving bones for strange rodents to gnaw and scatter. If you went by water, the trip would be long and you might get bored, which is a drag. You would be free to spend the whole trip eating and sleeping in comfort, writing love letters to your mistress, and reading, instead of living harrowing tales of privation and danger.
Trade benefited as much as passengers. Think of all that freight! Even fresh food could be transported over the rail lines. At last, the coasts were tied together.
- Sacramento, CA
- Jefferson Davis captured
So if the transcontinental railroad was such a great idea, why didn't they build one earlier? First, the railroad and steam locomotive had to be invented, which didn't happen until a little into the 19th century. Then, by the time such a project was technologically and logistically feasible, the States were beginning their Great Schism, which would lead to the Civil War; and various North-South debates about the fate of the West, the future of slavery, and the routes of the rails paralyzed negotiations.
The Great Railroad Race The Civil War actually advanced the transcontinental railroad project, since it freed up the Union to build whatever it wanted without a care for what the Southern grumblers thought. Inthen, Congress managed to forge the Pacific Railroad Act, which granted money and land for every mile of rail constructed towards the goal of an East-West connection.
The two companies involved were the Union Pacific and Central Pacific, racing from Omaha and Sacramento, respectively, for as many subsidized miles as they could build before the rails met. The Central Pacific utilized over 10, Chinese willing to work for less and in perilous conditions—which was important for Central, since they had to climb and blast their way through the Sierras almost as soon as they left Sacramento.
The Tracks Meet at Promontory, Utah Congress made the fool's mistake of assuming some motivating rationality on the part of the railroad companies, and not just base greed, so they didn't dictate just how, when, or where the rails must meet.
The Union Pacific Railroad did not start construction for another 18 months until July They were delayed by difficulties obtaining financial backing and the unavailability of workers and materials due to the Civil War. Their start point in the new city of Omaha, Nebraska was not yet connected via railroad to Council Bluffs, Iowa. Equipment needed to begin work was initially delivered to Omaha and Council Bluffs by paddle steamers on the Missouri River.
The Union Pacific was so slow in beginning construction during that they sold two of the four steam locomotives they had purchased. Civil War ended on June 22,the Union Pacific still competed for railroad supplies with companies who were building or repairing railroads in the south, and prices rose. But much of the south had adopted a 5-foot gauge.
Transferring railway cars across a break of gauge required changing out the wheel trucks. Alternatively, cargo was offloaded and reloaded, a time-consuming effort that delayed cargo shipments. For the transcontinental railroad, the builders adopted the English standard, what is now called standard gauge.
Within a few years, nearly all railroads converted to steel rails. Time zones and telegraph usage[ edit ] Time was not standardized across the United States and Canada until November 18, Ineach railroad set its own time to minimize scheduling errors.
To communicate easily up and down the line, the railroads built telegraph lines alongside the railroad. These lines eventually superseded the original First Transcontinental Telegraph which followed much of the Mormon Trail up the North Platte River and across the very thinly populated Central Nevada Route through central Utah and Nevada.
The telegraph lines along the railroad were easier to protect and maintain.
Many of the original telegraph lines were abandoned as the telegraph business was consolidated with the railroad telegraph lines.
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May Learn how and when to remove this template message Route of the first American transcontinental railroad from Sacramento, California, to Council Bluffs, Iowa. Other railroads connected at Council Bluffs to cities throughout the East and Midwest. Omaha was chosen by President Abraham Lincoln as the location of its Transfer Depot where up to seven railroads could transfer mail and other goods to Union Pacific trains bound for the west.
Trains were initially transported across the Missouri River by ferry before they could access the western tracks beginning in OmahaNebraska Territory. The river froze in the winter, and the ferries were replaced by sleighs.
The Great Race to Promontory
Durantone of the chief financiers of the Union Pacific. Dodge to build the railroad, and the Union Pacific began a mad dash west. He equipped several railroad cars to serve as portable bunkhouses for the workers and gathered men and supplies to push the railroad rapidly west. Among the bunkhouses Casement added a galley car to prepare meals, and he even provided for a herd of cows to be moved with the railhead and bunk cars to provide fresh meat.
Hunters were hired to provide buffalo meat from the large herds of American bison. In response, the U.
Sacramento to Promontory
Army instituted active cavalry patrols that grew larger as the Native Americans grew more aggressive. Temporary, " Hell on wheels " towns, made mostly of canvas tents, accompanied the railroad as construction headed west.
Building bridges to cross creeks and rivers was the main source of delays. It was built across the shallow but wide North Platte resting on piles driven by steam pile drivers. In lateformer Major General Grenville M.
Dodge was appointed Chief Engineer on the Union Pacific, but hard working General "Jack" Casement continued to work as chief construction "boss" and his brother Daniel Casement continued as financial officer.
The original westward travellers in their ox and mule pulled wagons tried to stick to river valleys to avoid as much road building as possible—gradients and sharp corners were usually of little or no concern to them.