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Discover_our_World_Yellow / Lesson 8: The Railroad

The Railroad & The Railroad Workers

The Railroad

The first "rail roads"---coaches set on iron wheels  and pulled by horses 

1829 - An English inventor replaced the horse with a locomotive or a railcar powered by a steam engine---his name was George Stephenson - and his Engine was called "the Rocket"

1830 - Peter Cooper - a New York businessman brought the idea of steam locomotives to the Ohio & Baltimore Railroad companies---he convinced them to replace horses with locomotives

Cooper built "Tom Thumb"---a small locomotive named after a children's story

The Railroad

People did not believe Tom Thumb could move by itself - so they came to see

This locomotive was put to a test in a race---it lost the race but it led the way for future locomotive engines

In the 1800s---railroads with locomotive engines were built

The train was nicknamed "The Iron Horse"

Because it had replaced horses as a means of railroad transportation

The Railroad

In the 1800s many settlers were traveling westward across the United States---so people said their was a need for a "Transcontinental Railroad"

A Transcontinental railroad is a railroad that crosses an entire continent

If they had a transcontinental railroad then it would be less dangerous to cross from one side of America to the other

The Railroad Act

In 1862 - President Lincoln saw the need for a transcontinental railroad

So in 1862 - Lincoln put the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 before Congress

The Congress passed the Act

The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 - offered 2 companies government loans and free land to build the railroad

The two railroad companies

The 2 RR companies were:
1. The Union Pacific Company
2. The Central Pacific Company

They decided to build from opposite directions and meet in the middle

The transcontinental railroad is 3,500 miles long and 2,000 of those miles were added when it work started in 1863.  Congress decided that the railroad would be built using the northern route instead of the southern route.  The railroad extends from California, through the Sierras and the Missouri River to Chicago.

The Union Pacific Railroad

Thomas Durant headed the Union Pacific Railroad under the leadership of Grenville Dodge

The Union Pacific laid track westward from Omaha, Nebraska


The Central Pacific Railroad

 The Central Pacific Railroad was headed by Leland Stanford. 

A merchant named Charles Crocker lead the company.

They laid track eastward from Sacramento, California


Workers on Central Pacific Company

Work on the railroad was progressing until silver was discovered in Nevada in 1865. 

A lot of the white workers left the railroad to search for silver. 

In 1865 Charles Crocker set out to find a new work force. 

Charles Crocker started to hire Chinese immigrants to work for the railroad. 

Nine out of Ten workers were Chinese by 1867

By May 10, 1869 over 11,000 railroad workers were Chinese.

Workers on the Union Pacific Railroad

At first the Union Pacific RR hired workers who were Civil War Soldiers and Free African Americans

Later Dodge hired mostly Irish and German workers

By the time the RR was complete most of the Union Pacific RR workers were from the countries of Ireland and Germany

The ten mile day

The Ten mile day refers to the hard work of the thousands of men who worked on the railroad - as they laid about ten miles of track a day

The two Railroads meet

 Promontory Point, Utah would be considered the most important landmark in the building of the railroad.  On May 10, 1869, Promontory Point, Utah was where the two railroads came together to complete the railroad.  At this time, the last tie was laid and hammered together with a bronze and gold spike.  Promontory Point signifies the completion of one of the most historical events in the United States.  

The Golden Spike

 The Golden Spike had a message written on it "May God continue the unity of our Country as the Railroad united two great oceans of the world."  

RR worker wages   

RR workers were paid low wages---between $2.50 and $4.00 a day - but they also received food and housing

Because their wages were low they went on strike---which means they stopped working until they were paid more money

The first unions in America were started by Railroad workers as a result of their strikes


Riding the Railroad in the 1800s

The cost for a first class passenger of the railroad in 1870 was $100 to travel between Omaha and Sacramento

The cost for a coach passenger of the railroad in 1870 was $75 to travel the same route

People had never found a Northwest Passage - but the Americans built their own Northwest Passage through the Railroad

Time Zones  

In 1884 - Time Zones were established as a result of the railroads

The time zones set the pattern for train schedules

The entire world was divided into 24 time zones