Transcontinental Railroad Essay

Essay by TheCalling123Junior High, 8th gradeA+, January 2005

download word file, 4 pages 0.0

Have you heard the quote "Life is a journey, not a destination?" Yet when it comes to summer vacations we see it as "Are we there yet?" Imagine it was 1840 and you wanted to travel from California to the East Coast. You would most likely board a ship. A ship would go have to go around the tip of South America to get to the East Coast. This would take about 5 months. The only alternatives of getting there were crossing America by horse and wagon or taking the dangerous path through Panama, which took about 1 month. May 1869 marked the end of 6 long years of determination of creating the Transcontinental Railroad.

The man who sparked the idea for the first Transcontinental Railroad was considered crazy by many. His name was Theodore Judah. With the help of Collis Huntington, Mark Hopkins, Charles Crocker, and Leland Stanford--otherwise known as the "Big Four" he began planning.

In the Sierra Mountain Range Judah's plan called for building bridges and carving twenty-foot wide shelves on sheer mountain and making tunnels through solid granite. There was not a manufacturer who would provide them locomotives or railroad cars, let alone the drills, spikes, and rails needed. Many in congress didn't want to start a difficult and costly project while the Civil War was going on but President Lincoln felt it was necessary. Finally in July of 1862 Lincoln signed a bill giving Judah the right to build a railroad from Sacramento eastward and chartered The Union Pacific to build from the Missouri River westward. About $100,000 was allocated per mile of track laid. In January 1863, the project finally went underway as Leland Stanford the new governor of California, turned the first shovel full of dirt. By the summer though...