Time was not standardized across the United States and Canada until November 18, 1883. The eastern and western approaches to the bridge site, near the highest elevation on the transcontinental railroad, required cutting through granite for nearly a mile on each side. Most of the early work on the Central Pacific consisted of constructing the railroad track bed, cutting and/or blasting through or around hills, filling in washes, building bridges or trestles, digging and blasting tunnels and then laying the rails over the Sierra Nevada (U.S.) mountains.  When tunnels with vertical shafts were dug to increase construction speed, and tunneling began in the middle of the tunnel and at both ends simultaneously. The nation's first transcontinental railroad spanned a distance of 1,912 miles from Omaha, Nebraska to San Francisco Bay. As a result, the western part of the route was extended from Sacramento to the Alameda Terminal in Alameda, California, and shortly thereafter, to the Oakland Long Wharf at Oakland Point in Oakland, California, and on to San Jose, California. When the last spike was driven, the rail network was not yet connected to the Atlantic or Pacific but merely connected Omaha to Sacramento. The American Experience series' 2002–2003 season documents the railway in the episode titled "Transcontinental Railroad". There was a shortage of passenger cars and more had to be ordered. The Transcontinental Railroad. The transcontinental railroad had long been a dream for people living in the American West. He paid an associate to submit the construction bid to another company he controlled, Crédit Mobilier, manipulating the finances and government subsidies and making himself another fortune. On one memorable occasion, not far from Promontory, the Central Pacific crews organized an army of workers and five train loads of construction material, and laid 10 miles (16 km) of track on a prepared rail bed in one day—-a record that still stands today. The route along the North Platte was also further from Denver, Colorado, and went across difficult terrain, while a railroad connection to that City was already being planned for and surveyed. Among the cooks serving the film's cast and crew between shots were some of the Chinese laborers who worked on the Central Pacific section of the railroad. " After a flatcar was unloaded, it would usually be hooked to a small locomotive and pulled back to a siding, so another flatcar with rails etc. May 10, 2019 by Jessica MacNeil Comment 1. It took about six years to build the Transcontinental Railroad and the golden spike was hammered into the ground on May 10, 1869. The Central Pacific Railroad Company of California (CPRR) constructed 690 mi (1,110 km) eastward from Sacramento to Promontory Summit, Utah Territory. When the eastern end of the CPRR was extended to Ogden by purchasing the Union Pacific Railroad line from Promontory for about $2.8 million in 1870, it ended the short period of a boom town for Promontory, extended the Central Pacific tracks about 60 miles (97 km) and made Ogden a major terminus on the transcontinental railroad, as passengers and freight switched railroads there. Most of the men received between one and three dollars per day, the same as unskilled white workers; but the workers imported directly from China sometimes received less. #440, 44th Congress, First Session, April 25, 1876, pp. When this was only partially successful, an extensive process of building snow sheds over some of the track was instituted to protect it from deep snows and avalanches. The Completed Railroad. 274, 1878 U.S. LEXIS 1556 – CourtListener.com", "Proposal for a Charter to Build a Railroad from Lake Michigan to the Pacific Ocean", "Dr. Hartwell Carver's Proposal to Build a Railroad from Lake Michigan to the Pacific Ocean", "Reports of Explorations and Surveys, to ascertain the most practicable and economical route for a railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, made under the direction of the Secretary of War, in 1853-4. Facebook Twitter Share. As soon as the ceremonial "Last Spike" had been replaced by an ordinary iron spike, a message was transmitted to both the East Coast and West Coast that simply read, "DONE." Visible remains of the historic line are still easily located—hundreds of miles are still in service today, especially through the Sierra Nevada Mountains and canyons in Utah and Wyoming. The project was a combined effort between Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad of California. Built in the 1860s, the railroad joined the cultured havens of the East Coast with the open, thriving wildernesses of the West, eliminating grueling months of dangerous travel for thousands of travelers. This self-dealing allowed them to build in generous profit margins paid out by the railroad companies. The Panama Railroad gauge was 5 feet (1,524 mm), which was incompatible with the 4-foot-8 1⁄2-inch (1,435 mm) gauge used by the CPRR equipment.  The new route surveyed across Wyoming was over 150 miles (240 km) shorter, had a flatter profile, allowing for cheaper and easier railroad construction, and also went closer by Denver and the known coalfields in the Wasatch and Laramie Ranges.  Most of the black and white workers were paid $30 per month and given food and lodging. For others, however, the Transcontinental Railroad undermined the sovereignty of Native nations and threatened to destroy Indigenous communities and their cultures as the railroad expanded into territories inhabited by Native … Union Pacific needed coal to fuel its steam locomotives on the almost treeless plains across Nebraska and Wyoming. Please keep your feedback on-topic and respectful. Usually the workers lived in camps built near their work site. General Land Office Map. The original westward travelers 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. In order to keep the CPRR's Sierra grade open during the winter months, beginning in 1867, 37 miles (60 km) of massive wooden snow sheds and galleries were built between Blue Cañon and Truckee, covering cuts and other points where there was danger of avalanches. The exception was in cities, at rivers, or on non-government property. The first Central Pacific sleeper, the "Silver Palace Sleeping Car", arrived at Sacramento on June 8, 1868..  Durant enticed other investors by offering to front money for the stock they purchased in their names. Efforts to survey a new, shorter, "better" route had been underway since 1864. The latter route was about twice as expensive per pound. Andrew J. Russell, Public Domain/Wikimedia. The Kansas Pacific Railroad linked with the Denver Pacific Railway via Denver to Cheyenne in 1870. In the final days of working in the Sierras, the recently invented nitroglycerin explosive was introduced and used on the last tunnels including Summit Tunnel.. There were actually two grades built, both parallel and adjacent to each other. Central Pacific. The Transcontinental Railroad. As the railroad advanced, their freight rates with the combined rail and wagon shipments would become much more competitive. This tacitly-agreed profiteering activity was captured (probably accidentally) by Union Pacific photographer Andrew J. Russell in his images of the Promontory Trestle construction. After the rail line's initial climb through the Missouri River bluffs west of Omaha and out of the Missouri River Valley, the route bridged the Elkhorn River and then crossed over the new 1,500-foot (460 m) Loup River bridge as it followed the north side of the Platte River valley west through Nebraska along the general path of the Oregon, Mormon and California Trails. Under the direction of the Department of War, the Pacific Railroad Surveys were conducted from 1853 through 1855. Nitroglycerin, which had been invented less than two decades before the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, was used in relatively large quantities during its construction. But modern researchers and scholars have taken issue with this name. The Transcontinental Railroad, once completed, allowed Americans to settle the west, to transport goods and expand commerce, and to travel the width of the country in days, instead of weeks. The 1993 children's book Ten Mile Day by Mary Ann Fraser tells the story of the record setting push by the Central Pacific in which they set a record by laying 10 miles (16 km) of track in a single day on April 28, 1869, to settle a $10,000 bet. , At that time in the United States, there were two primary standards for track gauge, as defined by the distance between the two rails. , To allow the companies to raise additional capital, Congress granted the railroads a 200-foot (61 m) right-of-way corridor, lands for additional facilities like sidings and maintenance yards. 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. Kristiana Gregory's 1999 book The Great Railroad Race (part of the "Dear America" series) is written as the fictional diary of Libby West, who chronicles the end of the railroad construction and the excitement which engulfed the country at the time. Some jobs like explosive work, tunneling, bridging, heavy cuts or fills were known to take longer than others, so the specialized teams were sent out ahead by wagon trains with the supplies and men to get these jobs done by the time the regular track-laying crews arrived. The route down the eastern Sierras was done on the south side of Donner Lake with a series of switchbacks carved into the mountain. The Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR) was a rail company chartered by U.S. Congress in 1862 to build a railroad eastwards from Sacramento, California, to complete the western part of the "First Transcontinental Railroad" in North America.Incorporated in 1861, CPRR ceased operation in 1885 when it was acquired by Southern Pacific Railroad as a leased line. Constantly needed supplies included "food, water, ties, rails, spikes, fishplates, nuts and bolts, track ballast, telegraph poles, wire, firewood (or coal on the Union Pacific) and water for the steam train locomotives, etc. Not until 1869 did the railroad come into contact with the Pacific Ocean, as the original western terminus was over 100 miles (161 km) from the Pacific in California's capital of Sacramento. Year the Transcontinental Railroad was finished.  In perhaps the world's first live mass-media event, the hammers and spike were wired to the telegraph line so that each hammer stroke would be heard as a click at telegraph stations nationwide—the hammer strokes were missed, so the clicks were sent by the telegraph operator. the railroad company that began building of the transcontinental railroad from its eastern starting point in Omaha, Nebraska. Collis Huntington, a Sacramento hardware merchant, heard Judah's presentation about the railroad at the St. Charles Hotel in November 1860. The first concrete plan for a transcontinental railroad in the United States was presented to Congress by Asa Whitney in 1845. Durant had initially come up with the scheme to have Crédit Mobilier subcontract to do the actual track work. Most Chinese workers were planning on returning with their newfound "wealth" when the work was completed. The scandal broke in 1872 when the New York Sun published correspondence detailing the scheme between Henry S. McComb and Ames. One of the most troublesome problems found on this route along the Humboldt was at Palisade Canyon (near Carlin, Nevada), where for 12 miles (19 km) the line had to be built between the river and basalt cliffs. The Transcontinental Railroad was completed 150 years ago, in 1869. Judah between Soda Springs and Eder, which was opened in 1925 when the summit section of the grade was double tracked. A Treasury of Railroad Folklore (1953); Bain, David Harward, Empire Express, Building the First Transcontinental Railroad (1999). In 1852, Judah was chief engineer for the newly formed Sacramento Valley Railroad, the first railroad built west of the Mississippi River. While there was a large network of railways built in the Eastern part of the country in the 1830s and ’40s, there were few in the West and none that connected with Eastern lines. The U.S.'s First Transcontinental Railroad was built between 1863 and 1869 to join the eastern and western halves of the United States. Durant gained control of the company after buying out employee Herbert Hoxie for $10,000. , The tracks reached Ogden, Utah, on March 8, 1869, although finishing work would continue on the tracks, tunnels and bridges in Weber Canyon for over a year. A bridge was not built until 1872, when the 2,750-foot-long (840 m) Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge was completed. Hills or ridges in front of the railroad road bed would have to have a flat-bottomed, V-shaped "cut" made to get the railroad through the ridge or hill. Only ten years before, the same journey would have taken months over land or weeks on ship, possibly all the way around South America. 10 days. The railroads sold the land to settlers for cash. 1863–1869: Union Pacific built west (blue line), Central Pacific built east (red line) and Western Pacific built the last leg (green line) to complete the first transcontinental railroad to the Pacific. [N 4] Service between San Francisco and Oakland Pier continued to be provided by ferry. Today, marks the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad when the ceremonial golden spike was driven into a polished cypress crosstie at Promontory Point, Utah.  While building the railroad along the rugged Weber River Canyon, Mormon workers signed the Thousand Mile Tree which was lone tree alongside the track 1,000 miles (1,600 km) from Omaha. The railroad companies were paid $16,000 per mile (approximately $455,000 per mile today) for track laid on a level grade, $32,000 per mile (about $911,000 per mile today) for track laid in foothills, and $48,000 per mile (or about $1,366,000 per mile today) for track laid in mountains. Most school children learned that the Transcontinental Railroad was completed May 10, 1869, at “Promontory Point,” where the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific met, and where the Golden Spike was driven. The Transcontinental Railroad was a vision of a country but was put into practice by the "Big Four": Collis P. Huntington, Charles Cocker, Leland Stanford, and Mark Hopkins. The bonds would be paid back by the sale of government-granted land, as well as prospective passenger and freight income. Legislation to begin construction of the Pacific Railroad (called the Memorial of Asa Whitney) was first introduced to Congress by Representative Zadock Pratt. The railroad established many townships along the way: Fremont, Elkhorn, Grand Island, North Platte, Ogallala and Sidney as the railroad followed the Platte River across Nebraska territory. Equipment needed to begin work was initially delivered to Omaha and Council Bluffs by paddle steamers on the Missouri River. The resulting coast-to-coast railroad connection revolutionized the settlement and economy of the American West. The transcontinental railroad was built to open up the interior and allow settlement in these areas, to make rural and unexplored areas accessible, and to ease the transportation of both goods and passengers from one area to another. The loosened rock would be collected and hauled out of the tunnel for use in a fill area or as roadbed, or else dumped over the side as waste. It was 1,776 miles long and served for the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States to be connected by rail for the first time in history. They initially invested $1,500 each and formed a board of directors.  The railroad companies were intent on completing the project as rapidly as possible at a minimum cost. Whitney traveled widely to solicit support from businessmen and politicians, printed maps and pamphlets, and submitted several proposals to Congress, all at his own expense. Emigrants from poverty stricken regions of China, many of which suffered from the strife of the Taiping Rebellion, seemed to be more willing to tolerate the living and working conditions on the railroad construction, and progress on the railroad continued.  Despite their small stature and lack of experience, the Chinese laborers were responsible for most of the heavy manual labor since only a very limited amount of that work could be done by animals, simple machines, or black powder. The average daily progress in some tunnels was only 0.85 feet (26 cm) a day per face, which was very slow, or 1.18 feet (36 cm) daily according to historian George Kraus. On November 8, 1869, the Central Pacific finally completed the rail connection to its western terminus at Oakland, California, also on the East Bay, where freight and passengers completed their transcontinental link to San Francisco by ferry. By 1867, a new route was found and surveyed that went along part of the South Platte River in western Nebraska and after entering what is now the state of Wyoming, ascended a gradual sloping ridge between Lodgepole Creek and Crow Creek to the 8,200-foot (2,500 m) Evans pass (also called Sherman's Pass) which was discovered by the Union Pacific employed English surveyor and engineer, James Evans, in about 1864.  Most of the semi-skilled workers on the Union Pacific were recruited from the many soldiers discharged from the Union and Confederate armies along with emigrant Irishmen. In those days, the Central Pacific once did a section of 10 miles (16 km) of track in one day as a "demonstration" of what they could do on flat ground like most of the Union Pacific had in Wyoming and Nebraska. in Comstock Lode towns and the tons of ice needed by the miners as they worked ever deeper into the "hot" Comstock Lode ore body.  The longest of four tunnels built in Weber Canyon was 757-foot-long (231 m) Tunnel 2. He continued to search for a more practical route through the Sierra suitable for a railroad. Kraus, High Road to Promontory, p. 110.; Robert West Howard, The Great Iron Trail: The Story of the First Transcontinental Railroad (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1962), p. 231. To expedite the building of the railroad through the Truckee River canyon, the Central Pacific hauled two small locomotives, railcars, rails and other material on wagons and sleighs to what is now Truckee, California and worked the winter of 1867–68 on their way down Truckee canyon ahead of the tracks being completed to Truckee. Lincoln signed the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 into law on July 1. Huang Annian, trans. The scandal hit epic proportions in the 1872 United States presidential election, which saw the re-election of Ulysses S. Grant and became the biggest scandal of the Gilded Age. Amtrak's California Zephyr, a daily passenger service from Emeryville, California (San Francisco Bay Area) to Chicago, uses the First Transcontinental Railroad from Sacramento to central Nevada.  This pass now is marked by the Ames Monument (41°07′53″N 105°23′53″W / 41.131281°N 105.398045°W / 41.131281; -105.398045) marking its significance and commemorating two of the main backers of the Union Pacific Railroad. Initially, Central Pacific had a hard time hiring and keeping unskilled workers on its line, as many would leave for the prospect of far more lucrative gold or silver mining options elsewhere. Transferring railway cars across a break of gauge required changing out the trucks. These included an extensive series of expeditions of the American West seeking possible routes. Security measures were further strengthened, and progress on the railroad continued. In the east, the Union Pacific selected a foreign name, calling their construction firm "Crédit Mobilier of America. The building of it started when Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 into law during the American Civil War.. Much of it was built by the Central Pacific Railroad, building east from Sacramento, California, and the Union Pacific Railroad building West from Omaha, Nebraska.  On May 10, 2006, on the anniversary of the driving of the spike, Utah announced that its state quarter design would be a representation of the driving of the Last Spike. The Central Pacific and Union Pacific raced to get as much track laid as possible, and the Central Pacific laid about 560 miles (900 km) of track from Reno to Promontory Summit in the one year before the Last Spike was driven on May 10, 1869. How long did the Transcontinental Railroad take to complete? In 1862, the United States Congress passed the Pacific Railroad Acts, a group of acts that would promote the building of a cross-country railroad system. 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