Why was the US East-West Railway Built?

american east west railway
american east west railway

The first railway construction across a continent began in the United States in 1863 and completed in May 1869. The idea of ​​building the railroad was presented to Congress by Asa Whitney at 1845. Although it was one of Abraham Lincoln's major infrastructure development projects, it was only completed after his death. The railway was built by several companies, including the Western Pacific Railway Company, the California Central Pacific Railway Company, and the United Pacific Railway Company.

The railway was built to connect the eastern and western coasts of the United States. He passed through various cities and towns, including Sacramento, Omaha, and then Nebraska. The aim of the railway was to make the interior areas attractive to settlements, to reach the rural areas and the natural richness of the undiscovered lands, and to ensure that both goods and people could be transported from one shore to the whole of the continent. At the same time, it was aimed to increase business activities, economic growth and industrial investments in these new areas.

The Transcontinental Railroad strengthened the economic situation in the United States in various ways. After the completion of the railway, the transportation of raw materials and finished goods to the industry became easier and faster and the connection of the two shorelines increased the commercial activities on the coasts remarkably.

The railway provided access to the undiscovered inland areas of the country, creating new settlements even in areas with no chance of development. Instead of expensive, slow and dangerous horse-drawn carriages, it has developed faster, safer and cheaper transport of goods and passengers. In addition, significant cultural exchanges took place during the construction process with migrant workers from countries such as China, Ireland and Germany.

During construction, there were some difficulties which slowed down the construction of the railway. It took a long time for the railroad to pass through the Sierra because of the American Civil War. Moreover, the construction in the Sierra was dealing with rugged terrain and rough mountains. Shipment of building materials from Cape Horn to California took a long time. Labor, food and housing shortages were other reasons that slowed down the construction process. Weather conditions, such as freezing cold and sandstorms, adversely affected workers and the construction process.

The establishment of the American east-west railway also affected several groups. Indigenous tribes were forced to leave their land for this railway. Epidemics were common among workers coming from all over the railway construction, and construction itself was dangerous to workers' health. In addition, many bison were killed during the production process.

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