Railroads Across US

Travel for your ancestors really changed for the better on May 10, 1869. That was when the joining of the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific Railroads was complete, making transcontinental railroad travel possible. The work began in 1862 and took 7 years to complete. Before that the train routes were piece-meal, plus taking stagecoaches, wagon trains, or a ship from the Atlantic to Pacific Ocean. With the cross-country train your ancestors could go from New York to San Francisco in one week.

To complete this transportation took some 21,000 workers doing very hard and dangerous work. There were hills, mountains, rivers, dry plains, all types of landscape to have the tracks laid. The benefits to America were huge.

California could now really expand and grow. Not just passengers but freight could travel across the nation. Travel also became less expensive, especially for the new immigrants arriving. An adult ticket from east to west of $150 back then. A very big benefit was the adoption of standard time zones by 1883. A household could even now order household items and goods from companies with a catalog like Montgomery Ward and it was shipped faster by the railroad.

If your ancestors moved from an eastern hometown to the western frontier between 1870 and 1900 to resettle, they may have very well-traveled on this new transcontinental railroad. Check further and maybe even an ancestor was part of those 21,000 workers.

Photos: Coverage in miles; Laying Tracks, and May 1869.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Railroad System Moved America


Railroads and Depots

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