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The Railroad in California 

Central Pacific Railroad

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Central Pacific Railroad

The first railroad to connect California with the eastern states was constructed between 1863 and 1869. The Central Pacific Railroad built east from Sacramento while the Union Pacific headed west from Omaha. The two lines met north of the Great Salt Lake at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory, on May 10, 1869.
The idea of the railroad came to the United States from England in the mid 1820s, and the nation’s first common carrier railroad, the Baltimore & Ohio, began service from Baltimore, Maryland, in 1830.

The new technology was revolutionary, and dozens of railroads were soon built west from Atlantic seaport cities. America had more than half the world's railroad mileage by 1845, and some people began to talk about the idea of a railroad all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

The notion that the United States should acquire the whole of North America was called Manifest Destiny. Railroads were to make this possible by allowing people to travel great distances with relative speed and comfort. The war with Mexico and the diplomatic conflict with Great Britain over the Oregon Territory boundary were waged to realize this dream.

California’s first railroad, called the Sacramento Valley Rail Road, opened in 1856. This 17–mile line foreshadowed a much grander project built between 1863 and 1869 to connect California with the rest of the Union. Construction of the first transcontinental railroad was one of the world’s great civil engineering achievements, and a key part of the opening of the American West. click here for a narrative history of this monumental undertaking.



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