The Pacific Railroad bill of 1862 launched the transcontinental railroad construction project. The Pacific Railroad bill granted 6,400 acres of public lands and government loans ranging from $16,000 to $48,000 per mile of track completed to the Union Pacific Railroad and Central Pacific Railroad companies. (Pacific Railroad Bill) Following the Pacific Railroad bill a series of federal and state acts between 1862 and 1871 granted more than 130 million acres of public land and supplied additional monetary loans of approximately $150 million dollars to the expansion of the railroads. (Gillon p.652)
There is no refuting that the railroad companies transformed business operations and encouraged industrial expansion. The raw materials required for construction of the transcontinental railroad directly resulted in the expansion of the steel, lumber and stone industries. (Gillon p.652) The railroad stimulated growth in manufacturing and agriculture providing an efficient manner to ship raw materials and products throughout the country. Which in turn, increased consumerism and introduced t...
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...ich developed new corporations. (Gillon p.652) Many in the railroad industry and these newly developed corporations were accused of price fixing, providing illegal kick- backs and challenging government regulations. (Gillon p.652-657) Thus, one could argue that the railroad industry and the titans it produced had a monopolistic approach to business that actually challenged the free market system.
In the end, the transcontinental railroad changed the American landscape both physically and culturally. It formed the foundation for the industrial economy, it produced new business practices and management style of large workforces. It helped established government regulations, taxation and support of public transportation. Above all it drastically changed the American lifestyle, changed where people lived, how they shopped, how they ate, and how they worked.
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