The Significant Impact of the Transcontinental Railroad on American Society

The Significant Impact of the Transcontinental Railroad on American Society

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The Transcontinental Railroad was one of the most ambitious engineering projects, economic stimulants, and efficient methods of transportation in the early United States. If completed, the United States would be truly be united from east to west. The purpose of this paper is to examine how the Transcontinental Railroad helped develop new opportunities for many aspects of American life.

The Transcontinental Railroad was the largest project the United States had ever seen. Due to lack of technology, the enormous size of the project, and the environmental conditions, the railroad seemed to be an impossible task.  This construction project posed a huge challenge to those working on it. The railroad’s route would span nearly seven hundred miles into desert and unexplored country. People had never traveled so far west before and there were no established cities there. Workers had to set up camps that were often disorganized and filled with crime. The railroad would pass through mountain ranges at extremely high elevations. Workers would blast through the granite of the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountain ranges, making only inches of progress everyday. Hunters used railroad lines to hunt buffalo, which was the main source of Native American food at the time. Between 1875 and 1885, northern and southern buffalo herds had been wiped out. Native Americans became upset when railroad companies seized their land. This resulted in many attacks on construction crews and the deaths of many engineers. When the workers weren't at work or asleep, they were at war with local tribes. Many workers kept loaded rifles at hand in the case of an Indian attack. The crews kept on working though, and by 1869 were laying track at an impressive rate How...

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...ed from the east to the developing west and wealthy western cities began to emerge. Between 1860 and 1890, t over 30 million people settled in the United States. This was the largest voluntary emigration in the history of the world. City growth was rapid and crime rated drastically dropped as law enforcement was established. Because railroad companies had no use for excess land, they sold it off cheaply to pioneers. This was one of the major factors or population increase in the west. According to ( ),
It was the joining of two worlds: East meets West. Before the railroad, Americans thought of the West as a wilderness populated mostly by Indians. On that day the fabric of American life changed forever…Settlers rushed west, and western cities grew up. America finally had the technological means to grow and thrive – and become the American that we know today…

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