You are on page 1of 5

Nelson Joseph

HIST 1312-009
Dr. Hunnicutt
11/25/2015
Transcontinental Railroad
What was its impact on westward expansion?
The invention of the railroad has been significant to the United States because it
represents a symbol of the power and pride of this nation. The U.S has grown from just a few
colonies to 50 United States that work together to form a powerful country. This all started with
the formation of the transcontinental railroad which expanded for a little less than 2,000 miles
(Bain 1999). At first many officials believed that building the railroad was impossible because of
the price it would take to lay tracks for miles and miles. After much debate, the funds that payed
for the production of the railroads was the government itself, they believed that the railroad
would help make the U.S a bigger and much more powerful state. With the combination of
westward expansion of the U.S and the invention of the transcontinental rail road, the U.S was
able to move people to the other side of the country, generate a larger economy, and move the
Native Americans from their homes.

The U.S was in favor of expanding their boundaries so they wanted to spread their
population to all parts of the land Americans claimed. Being able to take over more land gave the
country more power. Slowly pushing their boundaries to all parts of the ocean meant that they
were strong and were in control. With the purchase of the Louisiana territory the United States
was able to send explorers to these parts of the territory. These explores would then help inform
the public to see if there was a chance for human to live there with a good climate, access to food
and water. America was now very large in size but did not populate all of its land. We wanted to
build a system so that transport would be easy for goods and people. This is the biggest reason
why the transcontinental railroad was created. After the completion of the first transcontinental
railroad in 1869, the rest of the country was up for grabs, and the race was on (Borneman
2010). This meant that people could go anywhere near these railroads and have direct contact
with the rail road so they can transport goods back and forth from the location that they are near.
Cities were created along these railroads so that people could get all the supplies they needed
from the railroads.
Moving the U.S from one climate to another meant that there would be different
opportunities for our economy to rely on. With more land meant that there would be an increase
in the population and things would be cheaper to make. Agriculture took off from there. People
would be able to buy cheap lots of land where they could farm a large number of crops the
railroad was used to transfer food back and forth from one major city to another without any

trouble. Corn and livestock were a very important part of the process because a lot of these were
being exported and imported from cities all along the way. The railroad shipped $50 million
worth of freight coast to coast every year which is a very high amount of money that is being
circulated through the railroads (PBS 2015). That amount of money compared to now is worth
much more than just 50 million dollars. The items that were most transported were Crops like
corn, wheat and rice. Other products included timber and Minerals that were very popular items
at the time because it helped them stay warm in the cold winters.
Native Americans were pushed out of their homes so that the U.S could reside in the
homes of where the Indians once lived. One impact of the railroad was that it moved many
Native Americans out of their homes. Many historians nowadays consider this to be unethical.
They pushed these humans out of their homes sometimes with force so that the U.S good expand
and become a stronger nation. While many of these Indians were being pushed into a
Reservation or just away in general to places where no one would want to live. They would have
to go to homes where the water was scarce and the land was inhabitable. After acquiring horses,
Indians there, had become heavily dependent on the plains bison for food, shelter, clothing, trade,
and much more. (West 2011) Indians relied on bison for many things, each part of the bison had
some sort of use. The meat was used for food, the fur used for leather and the bones used for
weapons/shelter. When the Americans had figures this out they began to start taking away the
bison that the Natives used. They did this all the way to the extinction of bison in the west. The

Indians have lost a lot because of the American actions on native lands. The reason why the
Natives were unable to fight back was because they were defenseless against the American
weapons and they held a large amount of fire power.
In conclusion, the westward expansion of the U.S and the invention of the
transcontinental rail road, the U.S was able to move people to the other side of the country,
generate a larger economy, and move the Native Americans from their homes. Our past leaders
have done lot of work to make the dream of manifest destiny true. Even though they spent loads
of money and hurt many Native Americans away they had one main purpose and that was to
expand the United States of America. The railroads played an important role in developing new
concepts of management and brought forth giant corporations (American History). Something I
was not able to discuss in my essay was the use of money in the expansion of the U.S Many
large corporations were able to use the railroad process to make even more money by providing
shelter and food for workers but then using their efforts and not giving them a good reward. They
were paid very little and could not do much about it.

Work Cited

"AmericanExperience."PBS.Web.25Nov.2015.<http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexpe
rience/features/general-article/tcrr-impact/>. Web
Bain, David Haward. Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad. New
York: Viking, 1999. Print.
Borneman, Walter R. Rival Rails: The Race to Build America's Greatest Transcontinental
Railroad. New York: Random House, 2010. Print. Book
West, Elliot. "American Indians and the Transcontinental Railroad." History Now. The
GilderLehrmanInstituteofAmericanHistory,1Jan.2011.Web.<https://www.gilderlehrman.org/hist
ory-by-era/development-west/essays/american-indians-and-transcontinental-railroad>. Web
"What Was the Impact of the Railroads?" American History, n .d. Web. 25 Nov. 2015.
<http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/essays/1801-1900/the-iron-horse/what-was-the-impact-of-therailroads.php>. Web