• U.S. First Transcontinental Railroad (1)

    The First Transcontinental Railroad (known originally as the "Pacific Railroad" and later as the "Overland Route") was a railroad line built between 1863 and 1869 that connected Iowa with the Pacific Ocean at Alameda, California, opposite San Francisco. The road thus connected the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States by rail for the first time. The construction and operation of the line was authorized by the Pacific Railroad Acts of 1862 and 1864, during the American Civil War. The Congress supported it with 30-year U.S. government bonds and extensive land grants of government-owned land. Opened for through traffic on May 10, 1869, with the driving of the "Last Spike" at Promontory Summit, Utah, the road established a mechanized transcontinental transportation network that revolutionized the population and economy of the American West. (Vocab.: government bonds : emprunts d’état ; land grants : concessions de terrain ; network : réseau ; railroad line: ligne de chemin de fer)

    The transcontinental railroad served as a vital link for trade, commerce and travel that joined the eastern and western halves of the late 19th-century U.S.A. The transcontinental railroad slowly ended most of the stagecoach lines and wagon trains that had preceded it. They provided much faster, safer and cheaper (8 days and about $65 economy) transport east and west for people and goods across half a continent. (Vocab.: goods : marchandises ; halves : moitiés; stagecoach lines :  lignes desservies par diligence )

    The main workers on the Union Pacific were many Army veterans and Irish immigrants. Most of the engineers and supervisors were Army veterans who had learned their trade keeping the trains running during the American Civil War. The Central Pacific, facing a labor shortage in the West, relied on Chinese immigrant laborers (the “Celestials”). (Vocab.: Army veterans : anciens combattants; labor shortage : pénurie de main d’oeuvre ; trade : métier;

    Completion of the railroad substantially accelerated populating the West, while contributing to the decline of territory controlled by the Native Americans in these regions. The Native Americans saw the addition of the railroad as a violation of their treaties with the United States. War parties began to raid the moving labor camps that followed the progress of the line. Union Pacific responded by increasing security and hiring marksmen to kill American bison, which were both a physical threat to trains and the primary food source for many of the Plains Indians. The Native Americans then began killing laborers when they realized that the so-called "Iron Horse" threatened their existence. (Vocab.: Completion : achèvement; hiring marksmen : engager des tireurs d’élite ; labor camps : chantiers ; a threat to : menaces pour … ; War parties : groupes de guerilla)

    P1030611.jpg SALT LAKE CITY (Ut.): The Gateway.

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