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What 2 companies were given contracts to build the transcontinental railroad where did each company start?

What 2 companies were given contracts to build the transcontinental railroad where did each company start?

The two companies that were given contracts to build the transcontinental railroad were the Central Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad. The Central Pacific Railroad was responsible for construction starting from the west coast, specifically from Sacramento, California. On the other hand, the Union Pacific Railroad started construction from the opposite end, beginning in Omaha, Nebraska. These two companies played crucial roles in connecting the east and west coasts of the United States, effectively revolutionizing transportation and trade in the country.

FAQs:

1. How were the contracts awarded?

The contracts for building the transcontinental railroad were awarded through an act of Congress known as the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862. This act authorized the federal government to provide land grants and financial assistance to the companies that were willing to undertake the construction. The Central Pacific Railroad and Union Pacific Railroad were the chosen companies, and they each received significant grants of land along with financial incentives based on the miles of track laid.

2. Why were these specific companies chosen?

The Central Pacific Railroad and Union Pacific Railroad were selected based on their geographical locations and existing infrastructure. The Central Pacific Railroad, led by the “Big Four” entrepreneurs, had experience in building railroads in California. The Union Pacific Railroad had the advantage of being located in the center of the country, connecting major cities and establishing connections with other existing rail lines. These factors made them the ideal candidates for this monumental project.

3. How did the construction progress?

The construction of the transcontinental railroad was a massive undertaking that involved difficult terrain, harsh weather conditions, and numerous challenges. The Central Pacific Railroad faced the daunting task of crossing the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains, while the Union Pacific Railroad had to overcome the vast prairies and the formidable Rocky Mountains. The construction progressed gradually, with each company working towards each other until they finally met at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869.

4. How long did it take to complete the transcontinental railroad?

The construction of the transcontinental railroad took approximately six years to complete. The Central Pacific Railroad began work in 1863, while the Union Pacific Railroad started construction in 1865. The significant challenges they faced, such as intense physical labor, inclement weather, and labor disputes, contributed to the extended timeline. However, their perseverance and determination allowed them to overcome these obstacles and successfully complete the monumental project.

5. How did the completion of the transcontinental railroad impact the country?

The completion of the transcontinental railroad had a profound impact on the United States. It revolutionized transportation and trade, facilitating faster and more efficient movement of goods and people across the country. The railroad facilitated westward expansion, opening up new opportunities for settlement and development. It significantly reduced travel time, connecting the east and west coasts in a matter of days instead of months. The transcontinental railroad spurred economic growth and played a vital role in the development of the American West.

6. How many miles of track were laid by each company?

The Central Pacific Railroad laid approximately 690 miles of track, starting from Sacramento, California, and extending eastward. The Union Pacific Railroad, starting from Omaha, Nebraska, constructed approximately 1,085 miles of track, heading westward. These two companies worked tirelessly to meet in the middle, marking the completion of the transcontinental railroad.

7. Were there any significant challenges faced during construction?

Yes, several significant challenges were encountered during the construction of the transcontinental railroad. The Central Pacific Railroad faced the vast expanse of the Sierra Nevada mountains, where workers had to blast tunnels through granite and encounter harsh winters. The Union Pacific Railroad had to contend with Native American resistance, particularly in the western states, which at times resulted in conflicts and delays. Furthermore, both companies had to navigate complex logistical issues, labor shortages, and financial setbacks.

8. How were the laborers recruited for the construction?

Both the Central Pacific Railroad and Union Pacific Railroad relied heavily on immigrant labor for the construction of the transcontinental railroad. The Central Pacific Railroad employed a large number of Chinese immigrants, who endured grueling work conditions and played a crucial role in the construction process. The Union Pacific Railroad, on the other hand, primarily employed Irish immigrants, along with other European immigrants and newly emancipated African Americans.

9. What technology and engineering methods were used during construction?

During the construction of the transcontinental railroad, various technologies and engineering methods were employed. For tunneling through the mountains, explosives such as black powder and nitroglycerin were used. Steam-powered drills, horse-drawn carts, and horse-drawn explosives wagons were also utilized. The companies had to lay tracks across difficult terrain using techniques such as grading, trestles, and bridges. The engineering expertise required to build the railroad showcased innovative techniques that advanced the field of civil engineering.

10. How did the completion of the transcontinental railroad affect Native American tribes?

The completion of the transcontinental railroad brought significant changes and challenges for Native American tribes. As the railroad expanded into Native American territories, conflicts arose over land, resources, and cultural clashes. The increased presence of settlers and the rapid western expansion disrupted traditional Native American ways of life, leading to further displacement and marginalization.

11. How did the transcontinental railroad shape the future of rail travel in America?

The transcontinental railroad set the stage for the future of rail travel in America. It established a foundation for the extensive railroad network that would grow across the country. The completion of the transcontinental railroad encouraged the further development of rail systems, creating opportunities for economic growth, industrialization, and urbanization. The railroad became an integral part of American infrastructure, connecting communities and fostering national unity.

12. Are there any notable landmarks or attractions related to the transcontinental railroad today?

Yes, several landmarks and attractions related to the transcontinental railroad can still be visited today. The Golden Spike National Historical Park in Utah commemorates the joining of the Central Pacific Railroad and Union Pacific Railroad. The California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento showcases the history and significance of the transcontinental railroad. Additionally, there are various historical markers, monuments, and restored train depots along the route that offer glimpses into this transformative period in American history.

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