The building of the transcontinental railroads

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the creating of the West as a popular myth and a national symbol...

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Read more about the legendary and mythic West that has taken deep roots in American society and imagination. It is a West that is a product of songs, novels and paintings—a West that stands in opposition to the real West: the West of farmers, miners, prostitutes, railroad barons and Natives.

 

emptying the Great Plains of Indians and buffaloes...

cheating stockholders out of their money...

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By 1900, the Plains Indian population had shrunk from nearly a quarter of a million to just over a hundred thousand. Between 1872 and 1875, more than 9 million buffaloes were killed. In this slaughtering, the newly constructed transcontinental railroad played a major role.

Get to know T. C. Durant and learn more about one of America's greatest financial scandal! Collis P. Huntington, Jay Gould, James J. Hill, Durant and the other larger-than-life figures were the big bosses of the several railroad lines from the 1860s onwards. Often depicted by their contemporaries as villains and 'robber barons', they manipulated stock markets and company policies to line their own pockets.

 

letting others die in a cruel race for precious miles...

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Bring your picks and shovels (we give you the nitroglycerin) and let's dig some tunnels! The construction of the Central Pacific became epic and, indeed, the work involved in the ascent of the Sierra Nevada was prodigious for the time and the available technology. It was with the Chinese 'coolies', armed at first only with black powder and later with a still unreliable nitroglycerin to aid their picks, shovels, and small barrows, that the line was built.

 

THE TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROADS - a survey

The Union and Central Pacific. The Canadian Northern. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fé. The Northern Pacific and the Southern Pacific. The names of the great North American railroads are part of a remarkable story of technological achievement and economic progress. However, what the building of the railroads also tells is the story of the ruthless conquering and transformation of a world inhabited by native peoples into a region called the 'American West'. Under the guise of the 'torch of progress', highly problematic issues involved in the building of the railroads have either been played down or simply forgotten. The aim of this site is to evoke some of those disturbing facts that conventional history books usually remain silent about...

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On the junctions of these lines, huge economic centers and enormous settlements began to grow. In 1900, the US railway net with its 200,000 miles was a net denser than all the nets of the rest of the world. Chicago could be reached from New York within 24 hours, the country's economy experienced a boom in the steel and iron industry, and, of course, the settling of the West increased dramatically. With the coming of the transcontinental, Americans could make in a week's time the same coast-to-coast journey that earlier took travelers to California several months...

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