Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Transcontinental Rail Road!!!

If you wanted to travel from east to west, you had to use covered wagons, stage coaches, or go by horse. It was expensive, it took around 6 months to reach your destination, and you could get stranded & have to eat unsavory things, just ask the Donner Party.

So to make travel easier as we have already alluded to in previous posts, it was decided that the future in cross country travel was in the railroad! A Transcontinental Railroad!!!!

The first spikes of the Transcontinental Railroad were driven in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War.

There were two main companies that built the Railroad. This was the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific. Central Pacific built from east to west and the Union built from west to east.

They would often sing Meet in the Middle by Diamond Rio...remember those guys? Anyway....

We mentioned earlier that the Chinese built the railroad. This was very hard/unsafe work. The Sierra Nevada Mountains was one place where it was especially hard.

The Chinese worked around the clock. They drilled holes (by hand) and put in black powder to blast through the rock.

This was a very slow process, they would only get about a foot a day.

It took six years for the railroad to be completed. Spikes were driven, rock was blasted away, people died, and a lot of very very hard work took place.

May 10, 1869, the last spike was driven at Promontory Point Utah. This is the spot where the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific finally came together.

The spike was gold and was engraved with one simple word. 'Done'.

Now that the railroad was complete, people were excited and full of glee. A celebration rang out across the land!

Now with the railroad, it took cross country travel from 6 months to one week.

Family Vacations went a lot smoother from this point on....

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