Railroads to the Pacific 1869–1914


Map Code: Ax01995

In 1862 Congress passed the Pacific Railway Act, approving government funding for construction of a transcontinental railroad. The railroad would help improve trade links, and provide fast and efficient transportation to the newly settled Pacific coast. It would also open the US heartland for settlement. On 10 May 1869, three spikes (iron, silver and, finally, gold) were driven into the final tie at Promontory Point, Utah, to celebrate joining 1,776 miles (2,858 km) of Central Pacific and Union Pacific rail, creating the US’s first transcontinental railroad. There was still no continuous line connecting the Pacific to the Atlantic, but by the end of the century there were several transcontinental railroads, created by mergers or linking lines owned by multiple railway companies, which connected the east and west coasts. Canada also established two transcontinental railways, with the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad opening its line to the Pacific in 1914.

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