Teaching Students Facts About the Transcontinental Railroad
The Transcontinental Railroad is one of the most significant American achievements of the 19th century. It connected the country from coast-to-coast, opening up new opportunities for transportation and commerce. Teaching students about the Transcontinental Railroad is not only a lesson in history but also an inspiring story of perseverance and ingenuity.
Here are some essential facts to teach students about the Transcontinental Railroad:
1. The Idea and Planning
The idea of connecting the country by rail was first proposed in the mid-1800s. In the 1860s, the government provided massive land grants and funding to private companies to build a railroad spanning the continent.
2. The Two Companies Involved
The construction of the Transcontinental Railroad was a massive undertaking that required two companies to work together- the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads. The Union Pacific began building their section from Omaha, Nebraska, heading westward, while the Central Pacific started their section in Sacramento, California, moving eastward.
3. Challenges with Terrain
One of the most significant challenges facing the builders of the railroad was the terrain. The rugged terrain of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Rocky Mountains presented numerous challenges to both companies.
The construction of the Transcontinental Railroad required thousands of laborers, many of them immigrants from China, Ireland, and Germany. These workers faced dangerous conditions and harsh weather while working on the rail lines.
After years of hard work and perseverance, the two railroad companies met at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869. The Golden Spike was driven into the ground, signaling the completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad.
The Transcontinental Railroad had a significant impact on American society. It allowed for faster travel and shipment of goods across the country, which boosted economic growth and development.
7. Impact on Westward Expansion
The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad also played a crucial role in westward expansion, providing a reliable and efficient means of transportation to settlers heading west.
In conclusion, teaching students about the Transcontinental Railroad is an essential lesson in American history, highlighting the power of determination, perseverance, and hard work. By understanding the challenges and triumphs of its construction, students can better appreciate how this monumental achievement helped transform the United States into the modern nation it is today.