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The Transcontinental Railroad Essay

713 words - 3 pages

The Transcontinental railroad could be defined as the most monumental change in America in the 19th century. The railroad played a significant role in westward expansion and on the growth and development of the American economy (Gillon p.653). However, the construction of the transcontinental railroad may not have occurred if not for the generous support of the federal government. The federal government provided land grants and financial subsidies to railroad companies to ensure the construction. The transcontinental railroad contributed to the formation of industry and the market economy in America and forever altered the American lifestyle.
The Pacific Railroad bill of 1862 launched the transcontinental railroad construction project. The Pacific Railroad bill granted 6,400 acres of public lands and government loans ranging from $16,000 to $48,000 per mile of track completed to the Union Pacific Railroad and Central Pacific Railroad companies. (Pacific Railroad Bill) Following the Pacific Railroad bill a series of federal and state acts between 1862 and 1871 granted more than 130 million acres of public land and supplied additional monetary loans of approximately $150 million dollars to the expansion of the railroads. (Gillon p.652)
There is no refuting that the railroad companies transformed business operations and encouraged industrial expansion. The raw materials required for construction of the transcontinental railroad directly resulted in the expansion of the steel, lumber and stone industries. (Gillon p.652) The railroad stimulated growth in manufacturing and agriculture providing an efficient manner to ship raw materials and products throughout the country. Which in turn, increased consumerism and introduced the department store and the chain store. (Gillon p.652) The private capital required to develop the railroad gave birth to the modern day stock market and potentially to the real estate mortgage market. (Gillon p.652) The railroad provided transportation and accessibility to the middle of the country, thereby encouraging western settlement. (Gillon p.652) Yet, the greatest contribution may have been to the internal business structures and operations that shaped future industries.
The railroad companies grew rapidly and in complexity, employing workers across the country. Thus, they had to...

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