Essay on The Railroad Boom

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The Railroad Boom

The main reason for the transcontinental railroads to be built was to bring the east and west together. The building of these railroads caused huge economic growth throughout the United States. The railroad created opportunities for everyone across the US.

“Railroads were the first big business, the first magnet for the great financial markets, and the first industry to develop a large-scale management bureaucracy. The railroads opened the western half of the nation to economic development, connected raw materials to factories and retailers, and in so doing created an interconnected national market. At the same time the railroads were themselves gigantic consumers of iron, steel, lumber, and other capital goods”.
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Not all railroads were built with government assistance though. Smaller railroad companies had to purchase land from private owners on which to lay their tracks. Some private owners objected to the railroads and refused to grant rights of way.

Life for railroad construction crews was difficult. Crews were subjected to not only extreme weather conditions, but they had to lay tracks across and through many “national geographic features”(Rise of Industrial America) such as, rivers, canyons, mountains, and desert. Also, life in the camps was often very crude and rough. Many laborers died on the job. Due to the large economic opportunity, railroads construction camps attracted all types of people looking to turn a quick profit, legally or illegally. The Union Pacific work crews were comprised of ex-soldiers, former slaves, and Irish-German immigrants. The Central Pacific crews were composed mostly of Chinese workers who were lured to America by the California gold rush and then by the railroad jobs. (Tindall, Shi)

By 1900, much of the railroad system was in place. The railroad opened the way for the settlement of the West, stimulated the development of town and communities, and tied the country together. (Railroad Land Grants)

Railroad boomtown:

Albuquerque, New Mexico began in 1706 as a village of farmers with a cottage industry of textiles based on wool.