The Railroads
Learning Targets:
 Know the provisions of the Pacific Railway Act.
 Know the two railroads that built the transcontinental
railroad and where they each start from.
 Know the influence that Cornelius Vanderbilt held over
 Know the significance of “air brakes”
 Be able to discuss how the time zones came about.
 Be able to discuss how “land grants” worked with the
 Know Jay Gould’s trading practices
 Be able to discuss what took place with the Credit Mobilier
 State the ways in which the expansion of railroads spurred
America’s industrial growth.
Linking the Nation
 The railroad boom began in 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln
signed the Pacific Railway Act,
 This act provided for the construction of a transcontinental railroad by two
corporations, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroad companies.
 To encourage rapid construction, the government offered each company
land along its right-of-way. (About 1-5 miles on either side of the tracks)
 The railroads sold the land on either side of the tracks to settlers to pay for
the cost of building the railroad.
Linking the Nation
-The Union Pacific and Grenville Dodge
 The Union Pacific began pushing westward from Omaha,
 At the height of the project, the Union Pacific employed
about 10,000 workers.
 Camp life was rough, dirty, and dangerous, with lots of
gambling, hard drinking, and fighting.
Linking the Nation
-The Big Four and the Central Pacific
 The Central Pacific Railroad began as the dream of
engineer Theodore Dehone Judah.
 Because of a shortage of labor in California, the Central
Pacific Railroad hired about 10,000 workers from China.
Railroads Spur Growth
-The Benefits of a National System
 To make rail service safer and more reliable, in 1883 the
American Railway Association divided the country into
four time zones in regions where the same time was
 Air brakes enabled railroads to put longer and heavier
trains on their lines.
The Land Grant System
 The federal government gave land grants to many
railroad companies.
 Railroads would then sell the land to settlers, real estate
companies, and other business to raise money they
needed to build the railroad.
Robber Barons
-The Credit Mobilier Scandal
 Credit Mobilier was a construction company set up by several stock
holders of the Union Pacific.
 Credit Mobilier greatly overcharged the Union Pacific making it look like the
Union Pacific was going bankrupt. The Union Pacific, owned by the same
people as Credit Mobilier, asked the government to bail them out, which the
government did and the owners made millions!
 By the time the Union Pacific railroad was completed, the investors
made several million dollars.
Review Questions:
 What were the provisions of the Pacific Railway Act?
 What two railroads built the transcontinental railroad and
where did they each start from?
 What influence did Cornelius Vanderbilt hold over
 What were the significance of “air brakes”?
 How did the time zones come about?
 How did the railroads use “land grants”?
 What were Jay Gould’s trading practices?
 What took place with the Credit Mobilier Scandal?
Essay Question and Answer:
 In what ways did the expansion of railroads spur
America’s industrial growth?
 By linking the nation, railroads helped increase the size of
markets, providing greater opportunities for many
industries. Huge consumers themselves, the railroads also
stimulated the economy by spending extraordinary amounts
of money on steel, coal, and timber, among other needs.

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