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Transcontinental Railroad - Essay Example

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Development of the Transcontinental Railroad and its Effects A transcontinental railroad was first wanted in the year 1836. The visionaries and orators kept discussing the idea of developing a transcontinental railroad from time to time. “Much of the early debate was not so much over whether it would be built, but what route it should follow: a "central" route, via the Platte River in Nebraska and the South Pass in Wyoming, or a "southern" route, avoiding the Rockies by going through Texas to Los Angeles” (The Transcontinental Railroad, n.d.)…
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Transcontinental Railroad

“The California Legislature took a hand in the issue in 1855-6, fearing that Congress might relax its energies, and urged a speedy construction of a railroad, but the jealousy of politicians delayed the initiative” (San Francisco News Letter, 1925). During this period, short line railroads were being made in the Mid West. The credit of starting the enterprise goes to Leland Stanford. One day, as he was passing the Collis P. Huntington store in Sacramento, Leland Stanford saw the wagons being loaded. With the development of traffic, Leland Stanford realized the need of a quicker and improved carrier service, so he discussed the matter with Collis P. Huntington, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins. All of them mutually consented that a railroad connection with the East was needed. “Charles Crocker was a leading direction, and the spirit of dominant energy in pressing construction through and over all obstruction” (San Francisco News Letter, 1925). The water transportation met the needs of America in the pre-Civil War period. In the early 1830s, locomotives arrived in America from the Great Britain, and greatly inspired the local people of America, who were already eagerly waiting for the year-round transportation service that would be punctual unlike the riverboats and the canal barges. The railroad was just about to become the mode of transportation of the industrial America by 1860, when a tracks’ network ran across the eastern half of America. The great concern at that time was of its payment. There were two main options for payment; either the private investors would finance the railroads, or the railroads could be the enterprises of the state. America selected the free enterprise unlike most of the European countries. The government played a great role in it. Railroads were lured by a lot of states and localities with financial aid’s offers. The federal government promoted the interregional rail construction by means of land grants. However, the most significant boost was a legal corporation which assisted in the collection of private capital in prodigious amounts. In this way, people who had invested in the railroads were saved as they bore only the risk of the invested money rather than being personally liable for the debts of the railroad. The responsibility of making the railroad was given to the construction companies. A vast majority of those companies were financial structures. “Hiring contractors and suppliers often involved persuading them to accept the railroad’s bonds as payment and, when that failed, wheeling and dealing to raise cash by selling or borrowing on the bonds” (Henretta, 2009, p. 498). Most of the construction companies were very corrupt. The promoters tried to pocket a significant percentage of the total funds reserved for construction of the railroads. Factories were rapidly established in America during the 1870s. The products of these factories including paper, textile, and fabrics replaced the home-made articles. With the economical surge of America, a new kind of demand arose. “Railroads needed locomotives; new factories needed machinery; cities needed trolley lines, sanitation systems, and commercial Structures” ... Read More
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