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The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 was signed by President Abraham Lincoln and licensed two railroad companies to build the first transcontinental railroad that would connect the eastern and the western parts of the United States.
See the fact file below for more information on the first transcontinental railroad or alternatively, you can download our 20-page First Continental Railroad worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
BEFORE THE RAILROAD
- Prior to the transcontinental railroad, land travel from east coast to west coast and vice versa was very risky and long. Travelers and traders chose alternatives such as the six month sea voyage around the Cape Horn. Both routes were dangerous.
- It was around 1830 when the first talks about a transcontinental railroad began. Asa Whitney, a merchant, urged Congress to pass an act to build railroad. This was followed by Theodore Judah finally convincing the Congress after a series of lobbying and surveying of possible routes.
BUILDING AND COMPLETION OF THE RAILROAD
- The first transcontinental railroad was composed of two main railroad lines. In the span of seven years, the Central Pacific Railroad would build the railroad from Sacramento, California, while the Union Pacific Railroad would come from Omaha, Nebraska. On May 10, 1869, they would meet at Promontory, Utah.
- It is also known as the Pacific Railroad and Overland Route. Travelers could save up to $850 because of the new connecting railroad. Goods from both ends were transferred easily, allowing cheaper business and commerce.
- Congress decided to use the Central route from Omaha to Sacramento rather than the Southern route that ran across Texas to Los Angeles. It replaced the slower mode of transportation, the Pony Express.
- While building the railroad, both companies experienced difficulties in creating tunnels across the mountains. In addition, Native American tribes, such as the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho, raided the worksites. Most of the land that was granted to the railroad was owned by the Native Americans.
- On the other end, the Central Pacific Railroad faced a labor problem. Most of the workers were lured by the silver mines in Nevada. They hired Irish, Mormon, and Chinese immigrants. The Chinese immigrants were cheaply paid compared to the white workers.
- Before it was completed, companies faced looting and ransacking of materials. President Ulysses Grant refused to release financial aid to the companies after the incident.
- On May 10, 1869, the transcontinental railroad officially opened after seven years of construction. It ran for about 1,912 miles or 3,077 kilometers. Industrialist, Leland Stanford, hammered the last Golden Spike in Promontory Summit.
- Some of the key individuals in building the first transcontinental railroad were Asa Whitney (who proposed the Central Route), Theodore Judah (an architect and chief engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad Company and eventually convinced the government to create the railroad), the Big Four (Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker), Samuel Curtis (an Iowan representative who pushed the bill for the railroad), and President Abraham Lincoln.
First Continental Railroad Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about First Continental Railroad across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use First Continental Railroad worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 which was signed by President Abraham Lincoln and licensed two railroad companies to build the first transcontinental railroad that would connect the eastern and the western parts of the United States.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- First Transcontinental Railroad Facts
- The Big Four
- Lincoln, Johnson, & Grant
- Transcontinental Mapping
- Take the Wagon!
- Railroad Workers
- Railway Fast Facts
- East and West
- 19th Century Inventions
- Building the Railroad
- The Golden Spike
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Link will appear as First Transcontinental Railroad Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, August 30, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.