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Authorized by the Pacific Railway Act of 1862 and heavily backed by the

federal government, the first transcontinental railroad was the culmination of


a decades-long movement to build such a line and was one of the crowning
achievements of the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, completed four years
after his death. The building of the railroad required enormous feats of
engineering and labor in the crossing of plains and high mountains by the
Union Pacific Railroad (UP) and Central Pacific Railroad, the two federally
chartered enterprises that built the line westward and eastward respectively.
[9] The building of the railroad was motivated in part to bind the Union
together during the strife of the American Civil War. It substantially
accelerated the populating of the West by white homesteaders, led to rapid
cultivation of new farm lands. The Central Pacific and the Southern Pacific
Railroad combined operations in 1870 and formally merged in 1885; the
Union Pacific originally bought the Southern Pacific in 1901 and was forced to
divest it in 1913, but took it over again in 1996.