The Railroad

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  • 1. Question of the Day
    • What is Whitman writing about?
    • What emotions are being conveyed via the poem?
    • What are your overall impressions of the poem?
    Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  • 2. THE RAILROAD … the road between Europe and Asia…
    • Essential Questions:
    • What was the Pacific Railway Act?
    • Who built the railroad?
    • What was the impact of the railroad?
  • 3. The Transcontinental Railroad
    • It linked Omaha, Nebraska with Sacramento, California
    • A decades long project to unite the country
    • One of the crowning achievements of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency
    • Considered the greatest technological feat of the 19 th century
  • 4. The Pacific Railway Act
    • The American Civil War was raging
      • Unity of the country became pivotal
      • A secessionist movement in California was slowly becoming more popular
    • In May1862, the Senate approved an act that called for the construction of the railroad
      • Lincoln signed it into law in July
    • The act established two main lines:
      • The Central Pacific
        • Started in the West
      • The Union Pacific
        • Started in the East
  • 5. The Pacific Railway Act
    • It said that each railway was required to build only 50 miles each year
    • The government offered each railway:
      • Land grants
      • Help to pay for the construction depending on the terrain
    • Soon both railroads began to see which company could build the longest section of track
    • The route followed the main trails used for the opening of the West
      • It followed the Oregon Trial
  • 6. Laborers
    • Union Pacific track was built by:
      • Irish laborers
      • Veterans of the Union and Confederate armies
    • Central Pacific track was built primarily by Chinese immigrants
      • At first Chinese laborers were thought to be too weak or fragile
      • But soon thousands of Chinese immigrants were hired to build the railroad
      • Thousands more were ‘imported’ from China
  • 7. Golden Spike
    • Six years after the construction began the two railroads met at Promontory Summit, Utah
    • On May 10, 1869 the Golden Spike was driven into the track
      • It symbolized the completion of the transcontinental railroad
    • The world's first ‘live’ media event
      • The hammers and spike were wired to the telegraph line
      • Each hammer stroke was heard as a click at telegraph stations nationwide
  • 8. Impact of the Railroad
    • Travel from coast-to-coast was cut from 6 months to just 1 week
    • Reduced the price of goods
    • Psychologically united East and West
    • Population Explosion:
      • Settlers rushed into the west
      • By 1890 the US Census declared the American frontier was gone
    • Served as a symbol that American ingenuity, money, determination, and organization could accomplish great tasks