If California were to secede from the United States, the state would land just behind the United Kingdom and France in terms of GDP. With a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) or the total value of produced goods of a country, with 2.45 trillion U.S. dollars, almost doubling Texas’s, California would be the sixth most successful country in the world. But none of this would have been possible if the Transcontinental Railroad did not connect California to the rest of the country. The Transcontinental Railroad helped California industrialize by being able to allow more people to come to California, allowing many railroad cities to come along the railroad, helping agriculture industries form, and by creating new markets.
The Transcontinental Railroad, that opened in 1869 and was one of the greatest innovations not just for the state of California but for the entire country. The railroad was first thought of by four men nicknamed The Big Four; Leland Stanford (as in Stanford college), Collis Potter Huntington, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker. These four men helped back the railroad and are well-known for creating the idea of the railroad. They provided some of the funding and plans, however, they did not work on the railroad themselves. But, they were also named the Octopus. The Octopus is an analogy for showing how these four men dominated the railroad industry with their “tentacles”. The workers on the Transcontinental Railroad were mostly Chinese immigrants seeking the “American Dream”. Most of the funding for this railroad was paid for by the government after the passing of the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862. There were two main companies that started creating the railroad. These companies were called the Union Pacific, in charge of the west side of the United States, and the Central Pacific, in charge of the mid-west region of the railroad. The Transcontinental Railroad would move through the terrain but also cut through obstacles such as mountains and hills. Unfortunately, the railroad would cut through the land of many Native American causing many battles. The most notable known being Little Big Horn with a total death count of almost 330 people. The railroad was finished 6 years after the start of its construction. Leland Stanford hitting the last spike place in the railroad which is known as The Golden Spike, because it was made of solid gold (the spike was later pulled out and put on display in the Cantor Arts Museum at Stanford University), marked an ending of construction for the railroad with the Central and Union Pacific Companies coming together at the point.
California as of today is one of the most popular tourist states in America with activities such as Disneyland and going to Hollywood. This initial tourism started when the Transcontinental Railroad was finished. The population of California boosted up 300,000 people from 1860-1870 then growing another 300,000 within another 10 years. The connection of the country allowed people from cities across the country to travel and visit cities like San Francisco and Sacramento. Cities in California grew because of the close proximity of the railroad to the city. Cities such as San Francisco and Sacramento(because of silent films) grew in population because of the railroad. The later addition of the California Southern Railroad connecting to the Transcontinental Railroad, also helped industrialize a small city known as Los Angeles becoming one of the biggest cities in the world today. The railroad also brought a lot of immigrants into America. Many Irish and Chinese immigrants would come from overseas to help build the railroad. These immigrants would end up staying attempting to make the best of life in California. The ending of the gold rush ten years before helped boost the start of the railroad while also bring people over still looking for gold.
The Transcontinental Railroad was major factor of the boosting of the economy in the 1800ś. Agriculture and oil businesses are also some of the main reasons on why California’s economy is where it is at today. Agriculture is huge in the United States and the world. The Transcontinental Railroad helped the boost of agriculture and the economy. The railroad allowed transportation of other fruits or vegetables to be brought to California allowing them to be produced in California . The growth of the agriculture business allowed the shipment of fruits and vegetables to be brought across the country and also to nearby states known as the Pacific Fruit Express. Oil in California became huge after the railroad’s completion. Oil was in high demands in the country for machinery functions and the railroad itself for fuel. The demand for oil also brought in many oil companies to California. The production in California was higher than any state a few years after the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. The state was producing 4 million barrels of oil every year and eventually going as high as 78 million barrels. Wage Labor later dominated California surpassing self employed people. This created many top businesses and eventually monopolies. California’s economy would eventually skyrocket with the creation of these businesses.
The Transcontinental Railroad helped industrialize California in many ways. The Population of California steadily grew over the years following the railroad completion. Also it created many businesses such as agriculture and oil. Allowing money and government into California, making it the most dominant state in The United States.
Article by Nick Snyder, Aiden Burrell
“Transcontinental Railroad.” History, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/topics/inventions/transcontinental-railroad. Accessed 9 Nov. 2017.
Hodgins, Matthew. “Annihilating Time and Space.Pptx.” Google Slides, Google, docs.google.com/presentation/d/1IUe3DQNo-z985VcH8pv6xkPbQAjM2l31q4R73DChb28/edit#slide=id.p19.
“The Pacific Railway.” A Brief History of the Pacific Railway – The Transcontinental Railroad, railroad.lindahall.org/essays/brief-history.html.