The Transcontinental Railroad


The Transcontinental Railroad (1869) is the name given to the first railway built between Omaha, Nebraska and Sacramento, California, making coast-to-coast train travel across the US possible. What used to take four to six months now took just six days.

Crooked companies making crooked lines: The US government had wanted a transcontinental railroad since at least 1845. In 1862 the contract went to two companies: the Central Pacific, which built the line eastward from Sacramento, and the Union Pacific, which built westward from Omaha. Both companies were hugely corrupt (the Credit Mobilier scandal, for example) – and did not take the shortest route so that they could make more money.

The Union Pacific went across flatter land but had to fight off more Native Americans, whose land they were taking. They employed 20,000 men, about 300 were Black, 3,000 were Irish.

The Central Pacific went across mountain and desert almost…

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