At the given al, a hammer slammed down on a golden spike, sending an electric pulse out over telegraph lines stretching west to San Francisco, and east across Wyoming Territory to Omaha. The crowd cheered. They listened to speeches. They waved flags, toasted with champagne, and posed for photographs. For the sparsely populated Wyoming Territory, the golden spike meant the end of a prosperous two-year construction period brought by the Union Pacific.
While hundreds of thousands crossed Wyoming by wagon train in the s, most recognized that it was too high, too cold and too dry for rainfall-dependent farming. It also lacked profitable mines. Those factors meant that almost no travelers who crossed Wyoming by wagon train decided to stay. The transcontinental railroad changed all of that by giving many more emigrants a means to live in Wyoming.
Specifically, the rails provided a model of industrial development based on transportation of agricultural and mineral products. The railroad opened up trade to distant markets, spreading the costs of operating the line outside of the territory. In some ways, the combination of transportation and resource extraction created by the Union Pacific continues to drive the Wyoming economy.
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The railroad also set up dynamics of political and economic power that persist even now. More than any other economic force, picking up prostitutes in cheyenne Union Pacific Railroad shaped the Wyoming we know today. The building of the Union Pacific across Wyoming forever changed the political and physical landscape, not least by bringing about the organization of Wyoming Territory out of a huge piece of land lopped off the southwestern part of Dakota Territory. The region needed its own government because of its remoteness from the capital of Dakota Territory at Yankton on the Missouri River.
Wyoming Territory also took a small part of Utah and Idaho territory in the west of the continental divide. The northern boundary of Wyoming Territory was defined by the organization of Montana Territory in When the UP first came to Wyoming inthe railroad exerted a tremendous amount of influence on the government. Often it seemed that governments existed primarily to serve the interests of the railroad, first with federal military support to pacify Indians, unruly squatters or striking coal miners, and then by creating the structure of territorial government needed for conducting business.
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In Gov. John A. Campbell 's inaugural address to the Wyoming Territorial Legislature, he noted that, "For the first time in the history of our country, the organization of a territorial government was rendered necessary by the building of a railroad. Heretofore the railroad has been the follower instead of the pioneer of civilization. As leaders of one of the largest private landholders and employers, UP executives made decisions that affected every town and impacted the wealth of Wyoming.
Territorial officials fought for the right to tax property owned by the railroad and ultimately prevailed in an court case. After this, Wyoming Territory collected one-third of its property taxes from the UP right of way, track and rolling stock.
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For the company and the nation, the primary motivation for building a transcontinental railroad was to get to the Pacific Ocean. The idea for such a railroad first appeared in a pamphlet inbut gained more credence with the ing of treaties that opened up trade with China and Japan, and with the gold rush to California.
Merchants, migrants and miners wanted to speed the trip to California and Picking up prostitutes in cheyenne by avoiding the long ocean journeys via Cape Horn and the Isthmus of Panama. InCongress created the Pacific Railroad Survey to study the viability of prospective train routes advocated by southern and northern states. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis sent out parties to identify routes at the 49th, 47th, 41st, 35th, and 32nd parallels. As a devoted southerner, Davis, who would later become the president of the Confederacy, preferred the southernmost route from New Orleans to California.
The 41st parallel report by Edward Beckwith built upon reconnaissance made picking up prostitutes in cheyenne Howard Stansbury in Many years later, Grenville Dodge, the chief engineer during construction of Union Pacific, claimed he discovered the pass over the Laramie Range in while being chased by a band of Indians. The story of the Indian chase is not substantiated by his journal entries from that day, but it does seem clear that he found the route that would become known as "the gangplank" for its even grade, and which Interstate 80 follows now from Cheyenne west to the summit of the Laramie Range.
The 41st parallel survey identified the route that would eventually be used by the Union Pacific. It offered both the shortest route west and the best crossing of the Rocky Mountains.
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But for the rest of the decade, railroad plans stalled because of tensions between North and South over whether and where slavery would be allowed to expand in the West. The secession of the Confederacy at the opening of the Civil War allowed the remaining members of Congress to take action on a transcontinental railroad.
President Abraham Lincoln chose a northern route for the railroad, with Council Bluffs, Iowa, on the east bank of the Missouri River as the terminus. Lincoln did so at least partially because Dodge, a Union general and railroad engineer, had in the late s shown him maps of a prospective railroad following the Platte River across Nebraska. Lincoln was a loyal supporter of railroad construction. He had seen how railro developed his home state of Illinois, and railro had been among his most important clients in his Springfield law practice.
Californians started agitating for a railroad over the Sierra Nevada in the early s, and Lincoln wanted to ensure that California would maintain its loyalties to the Union. The federal government offers land and financing. Lincoln ed the Pacific Railway Act on July 1, The act created the Union Pacific, and subsidized the Union Pacific and already-existing Central Pacific railro by granting 10 square-mile sections of land for each mile of track laid.
Ina second Pacific Railroad Act drafted by Union Pacific attorneys doubled the land grant to 20 sections for each mile, which created a checkerboard of odd-ed sections for 20 miles on each side of the line and amounted to 4, acres in Wyoming Territory. The grant also gave mineral rights under these lands to the railroad. The loan would last 30 years at a charge of six percent interest.
Most of the investment came via financiers in New York who picking up prostitutes in cheyenne stock and bonds on the East Coast and in Europe. Investors included wealthy merchants from the China trade, Civil War financiers, and European nobility. The chief financier and general manager of the Union Pacific was Thomas Durant, a vigorous self-promoter who seemed to care less about building railro than earning money. Representative Oakes Ames, two brothers from Boston who showered members of Congress with gifts of stock to gain favorable legal treatment for their line.
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Such questionable financing, however, expedited construction. The UP also fought territorial attempts to tax its land grant, which resulted in an ruling against the railroad on that question. The company surveyed its land very slowly to try to avoid taxation, and it didn't secure patents on land until interested buyers appeared.
The checkerboard pattern of ownership made few ranchers interested in purchasing the land, however, as they needed large, intact acreages to raise livestock in a dry climate. The UP floated a proposal to abandon the checkerboard by taking all the land within 20 miles on one side of the tracks and releasing all railroad land on the other side. The territorial government rejected the proposal inhowever, because it would create "endless confusion.
In the s, the UP used its cars for shipping meat to packinghouses in Omaha and Chicago. A system of stockyards and slaughterhouses developed which enabled cattle grown on the Wyoming ranges to be shipped to Chicago for slaughter with the beef then transported in refrigerated cars to the East Coast and even to Europe. Inthe UP began selling some of its land grant acreages to prominent Wyoming livestock growers like F.
InCongress passed a law allowing the taxation of all railroad-grant land, regardless of whether final patents had been issued. Nearly every one of the construction managers and engineers who built the road had served as Union officers in the Civil War, and they brought their organizational and logistical prowess to bear in commanding the work.
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The chief railroad engineer, Grenville Dodge, had rebuilt lines in the South during the war while serving as a Union general. On Dec. The following year the line made it miles, stopping at North Platte, Nebraska Territory for the winter.
In the road made it another miles before stopping at Granite Canyon on the slopes of the Laramie Range west of Cheyenne.
The following year construction raced across miles of southern Wyoming, entering Utah at the beginning of Surveying was considered as some of the most hazardous work for the Union Pacific Railroad, particularly inwhen two chiefs of survey crews, Lathrop L. Hills and Percy Browne, died during attacks from Indians. Dodge also honored surveyor John A. Rawlins by naming a town for him. The surveyors also took on the tough duty of camping out for the winter of at the summit of the Laramie Range to make sure they located the line away from deep snowdrifts.
The surveyors eventually linked a series of topographic features to create a favorable route. From there the route rounded the northern slope of Elk Mountain to reach the North Platte, moving on to enter the Wyoming Basin, also known as Great Divide Basin over a low ridge north of Bridger Pass. After leaving that basin, the railroad picked up Bitter Creek as a watered route into the Green River Basin. Track-laying crews completed the line into Cheyenne on Nov.
Dodge laid out the town site and selected the location for locomotive shops.
Like all such towns, Cheyenne businesses provided materials for the railroad as well as entertainment for the workers. Cheyenne boasted nearly 70 places to buy a drink inalong with numerous brothels, gambling houses and theaters. Inside, customers who spent enough money could get a drink, play a game of cards, dance with a girl, hire a prostitute and get treated for venereal disease all in one visit.