Presentation on theme: "The Age of the “Iron Horse”. Growth of Railroads."— Presentation transcript:
The Age of the “Iron Horse”
Growth of Railroads
Most of the first railroads in America hauled goods short distances, often from ships to warehouses, using horses or oxen for power. The concept of the railroad as a means of long-distance transportation may have originated with John Stevens, the inventor who developed one of the first steamboats. In 1825 Stevens built a half-mile circular track on his estate in New Jersey and created the first steam locomotive to run on rails in the United States. Though his invention was not ready for commercial use, the idea sparked interest among other inventors. Around this time, English engineer George Stephenson designed a successful steam locomotive in England. The world’s first steam-powered, public passenger train, the British Stockton & Darlington Railway, soon began operation, and railroads quickly took over as England’s major transportation system.
Steam Engine: An engine that burns fuel to heat water into steam, which becomes the power that turns the parts of the engine. In its simplest form, a steam locomotive consists of a firebox (a box in which the fire burns), a boiler (a tube or set of connected tubes, in which water is heated to steam), a cylinder (a tube- shaped chamber or tank), and wheels, all of which are mounted on a rigid frame. The flames in the firebox heat water in the boiler to create steam. The steam is directed into a cylinder where its force is used to push a plunger (a mechanism that plunges, or is thrust). The plunger is attached to the driving wheel of the engine by a connecting rod. Driving wheels are the wheels that move a train along, as opposed to carrying wheels which distribute the weight of the engine. The force of the plunger causes the drive wheels to turn, which moves the engine along the track.
Americans relied almost entirely on English steam locomotive technology for their first trains. For example, in 1830 Robert Livingston Stevens (1787–1856), the son of John Stevens and president of New Jersey's Camden and Amboy Railroad, went to England to visit the best steam locomotive factory. Stevens ordered a train, the John Bull, and had it sent in parts to the United States. The John Bull was by far the most advanced steam locomotive in the country, but it was not adapted to the United States. Because U.S. railroad tracks had been built much more roughly than European tracks, the high−performance British locomotive, with its fixed, four−wheel suspension, did not fare well on them, derailing and breaking axles on the uneven rails. To make the John Bull hold to the tracks, mechanics added a bogie truck, a set of four leading carrying wheels that could swivel independently on the track and prevent derailing. With this adaptation, the John Bull was classified as a 4−4−0, meaning it had four leading wheels, four drivers, and no trailing wheels. This design became standard to the American engine, along with other adaptations, such as spark −arresting stacks to prevent fires, cow catchers (implements that pushed objects out of the train's way), and bells and whistles to warn people of their approach. U.S. manufacturers soon took over construction of American steam locomotives in large new factories filled with complex machinery and staffed by highly skilled workmen.
America’s first railroad In 1826 a group of Baltimore, Maryland, businessmen began looking for a way their city could compete with the now—bustling port city of New York. They decided to launch the first American railway the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) which would extend between Baltimore and the Ohio River. The businessmen estimated that they would need about three million dollars to fund the venture. They received approval from the state of Maryland to create a corporation –Under this legal arrangement, the three million dollars needed to support the venture was to be raised by the sale of stock shares to the public. –An enthusiastic public (twenty-two thousand individuals) bought up the shares in twelve days—in the end, nearly every family in the state had purchased stock in the company. A Baltimore and Ohio locomotive
In the East, there were four trunk lines that connected the eastern seaboard cities with the two western rail centers (St. Louis and Chicago). These trunk lines included the Pennsylvania Railroad, which was headquartered in Philadelphia and connected Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, Baltimore, D.C., and New York. The line split in Pittsburgh—one went to Chicago and the other went to St. Louis. The Pennsylvania Railroad was the biggest, wealthiest, and most powerful of the trunk lines. The Pennsylvania Railroad was self-labeled (“the Standard of Railroads”). The Pennsylvania Railroad set records insofar as it paid dividends on the New York Stock Exchange in every year of its existence. In the 1880s and 1890s the Pennsylvania Railroad was the largest corporation in the United States. The New York Central Railroad rivaled the Pennsylvania Railroad and was organized by “the Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt.The New York Central Railroad went from New York City to Albany and Buffalo and then from Buffalo to both Cleveland and Chicago as well as to Indianapolis and the Ohio Railroad. The other two trunk lines included the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (previous slide) and the Erie Railroad. Before Cornelius Vanderbilt founded the New York Central Railroad, rails did run from New York City to Chicago. Before Cornelius consolidated the railroad, it took passengers and freight 50 hours to make the trip in which they had to be transferred seventeen times between cities. After consolidation, there were no transfers during a twenty- four hour trip. Iron rails and wood bridges were replaced tih steel on his railroad and he built double tracks for safer more efficient traffic.
By 1865 the U.S. was already the world’s leading railway country with approximately 35 systems of integrated lines that tied together distant markets and regions. Except for the Baltimore,Ohio and Erie Railroads, American rail lines had been built by entrepreneurs who thought in regional terms. They had constructed their liens to connect two nearby cities, or they had run tracks from a city into the surrounding countryside. While useful, these feeder lines (connecting major trunk lines) reinforced the traditional local patterns of commerce rather than encouraging the development of factories with national and international markets. As a result, the older more populated regions of the country, where immediate profits could be made, were crisscrossed by railroads. This pattern often led to fierce/ destructive (cut-throat) competition among the railroads of those regions. On the other hand, sparsely settled areas where there were only potential profits, had few if any lines. The cost of running a railroad is high (e.g.track maintenance, engine maintenance, wages and salaries for workers, fuel consumption, etc.). It cost nearly as much money to run empty trains as it did to run full ones. No railroad could afford to halt operations. If and when a railroad faced competition for traffic, it was usually forced to cut its rates (either directly through discounts or by offering large shippers rebates/returns of part of their payments to keep their business). This competition was ruthless and often self-destructive for the railroads.
A new form of business organization An enterprise as costly as building a railroad demanded more money than any one individual could invest. Prior to 1809 people wishing to participate in joint economic enterprises usually formed partnerships, in which each partner was personally liable, or responsible, for the entire debt of the organization. Corporations became the solution for financing such large- scale business ventures after 1809, when courts began to recognize the right of private enterprises to incorporate. State charters set the terms by which these early corporations would be run. Corporations offered many benefits to industrialists. The corporation was, and still is, a limited-liability organization. That is, each investor risked only the capital he or she put into it. Corporations were stable, secure, and protected by state laws. They could endure over long periods of time because they did not have to legally reorganize every time an owner died or transferred his ownership. Additionally, a corporation was treated by the courts as a legal “person”; it could establish contracts, sue and be sued, and own property just like an individual person. Corporations were essential to the rise of industry in the U.S. because they could raise huge amounts of capital by “going public,” that is, selling ownership shares to anyone who wanted them. The huge amounts of capital made available by public sales made it possible for businesspeople to finance large projects like establishing railroads and factories, which would have been impossible under the old partnership agreements.
Railroads were leaders in business innovation After the success of the B &O, other new companies also began building railroads. However, many problems arose during these first years of train travel. The land was vast and the railroad companies did not have a lot of money. Consequently, American tracks were rough and hastily built. The roadbeds were poorly graded and the tracks were often uneven, causing trains to derail. Accidents were frequent. Additionally, most railroads could only afford to build single−track lines. When two trains were scheduled for the same line, one had to get off on a siding (a short track connected to the main track) and wait for the scheduled train to pass before continuing. This resulted in great delays. Other problems existed because the railroad companies all used different gauges, or widths of track, and the competing lines did not connect. Philadelphia, for example, was served by five different railroads, and passengers and shippers had to hire wagons to carry their belongings from one company's station to another. The iron−covered wooden rails used on early railroad routes simply could not handle the heavy locomotives needed to pull trains over the rugged mountain ranges and deep ravines of the Appalachians. Solid iron rails were the most obvious solution, but the American iron industry had just begun and could not supply enough iron or skilled ironworkers. In 1830 mechanical engineer Robert Livingston Stevens (1787–1856; son of inventor John Stevens) solved the problem by designing a solid iron T−shaped rail. The shape of the rail provided it with more strength than the British rails and did not require the work of skilled metalworkers on site during construction. Initially, Stevens had the rails manufactured in Wales and shipped to the United States. The Stevens T−rail quickly became the standard. American railways grew from about three thousand miles of track in 1840 to thirty thousand miles of track in 1860— more growth than the rest of the world's rail systems combined. Railroads reduced the price of shipping goods by as much as 95 percent between 1815 and These lower costs stimulated production and growth in all areas of the nation's economy. In addition, the demands of rail construction and finance expanded the nation's industry. Iron, and later, steel, production rose, and corporation stocks increased in value as a result. The dramatic growth of long− distance railroads signaled the growth of the United States as an industrialized nation. Railroads made industry possible by efficiently moving goods throughout the large nation. The railroad developers were equally vital in setting an example of the tremendous possibilities that arose when large amounts of capital, coupled with innovation, were used to create and improve large, complex enterprises.
Americans relied almost entirely on English steam locomotive technology for their first trains. For example, in 1830 Robert Livingston Stevens (the son of John Stevens and president of New Jersey’s Camden and Amboy Railroad) went to England to visit the best steam locomotive factory. Stevens ordered a train, the John Bull, and had it sent in parts to the U.S.. The John Bull was by far the most advanced steam locomotive in the country, but it was not adapted to the U.S. Because U.S. railroad tracks had been built much more roughly than European tracks, the high-performance British locomotive, with its fixed, four-wheel suspension, did not fare well on them, derailing and breaking axles on the uneven rails. To make the John Bull hold to the tracks, mechanics added a bogie truck, a set of four leading carrying wheels that could swivel independently on the track and prevent derailing. With this adaptation, the John Bull was classified as a 4-4-0, meaning it had four leading wheels, four drivers, and no training wheels. This design became standard to the American engine, along with other adaptations, such as spark-arresting stacks to prevent fires, cow catchers (implements that pushed objects out of the train’s way), and bells and whistles to warn people of their approach. U.S. manufacturers soon took over construction of American steam locomotives in large new factories filled with complex machinery and staffed by highly skilled workmen.
The iron-covered wooden rails used on early railroad routes simply could not handle the heavy locomotives needed to pull trains over the rugged mountain ranges and deep ravines of the Appalachians. Solid iron rails were the most obvious solution, but the American iron industry had just begun and could not supply enough iron or skilled ironworkers. In 1830 mechanical engineer Robert Livingston Stevens (son of inventor John Stevens) solved the problem by designing a solid iron T-shaped rail. The shape of the rail provided it with more strength than the British rails and did not require the work of skilled metalworkers on site during construction. Initially, Stevens had the rails manufactured in Wales and shipped to the U.S.. The Stevens T-rail quickly became the standard.
Uniform gauges Early American railroads were inefficient because few independent companies linked up with one another. These lines went to the same towns but did not use the same tracks. Goods being shipped over long distances and therefore on several lines had to be unloaded at one terminal, carted across town by horse and wagon to another terminal, and reloaded onto another train to a car that fit the gauge of the next railroad. For example, before the Civil War, Chicago and New York were linked by rail on the map, but cargo going the entire distance had to be unloaded and reloaded as many as six times. Packages sent by railroad from Charleston, South Carolina to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had to change railroad cars eight times. This problem was created by differences in gauges or the distance between the rails (measured from inside of one rail to the inside of the other rail). Every independent railroad was free to lay track at whatever gauge they chose and of course bought locomotives and cars that fit their tracks (specialty production of railroad cars). This meant that one company’s train could not be run on another company’s track.
Uniform gauges Some railroad builders put their tracks six feet apart (some closer). By 1860, there were at least 11 different gauges in U.S.. Philadelphia, for example, was served by five different railroads, and passengers and shippers had to hire wagons to carry their belongings from one company’s station to another. Formerly, competing railroads used many different gauges (distances between the two rails) when building their tracks. Because of this, competing lines could not connect with each other, causing delays and accidents. Still, from the beginning quite a few lines happened to have the same gauge. George Stephenson, an English railroad inventor, designed his locomotive to measure 4’, 81/2” between the wheels (the usual distance between the wheels on a wagon). When Stephenson’s locomotives were imported to the U.S., they had this standard gauge. Naturally, many early railroad lines built their tracks to fit the imported trains. During the Civil War, in order to ship arms and troops quickly from place to place, many railroads changed to standard gauge. The completion of the transcontinental railroad with standard gauge in 1869 settled the question because now, if a railroad wanted to join the traffic across the continent, it’s rails had to be set 4’, 81/2” apart. It was not until 1880 that some of the railroads of the East and Midwest began to adopt standard gauges of 4 feet 8.5 inches (by 1880, approximately 80% of the tracks in the U.S.—mostly in the north—were converted to standard gauge with crews going along the line and loosening the old track, measuring the standard distance between the rails and putting spikes along the wooden ties. By 4 p.m. on June 1, 1886, southern railroads also converted to standard gauges. By 1890, gauges of 4 feet 8.5 inches was uniform to all regions because Congress passed a law requiring it. Initially, American tracks were rough and hastily built. Roadbeds were poorly graded and the tracks were often uneven causing derailments. Accidents were frequent. Additionally, most railroads could only afford to build single-track lines. When two trains were scheduled for the same line, one had to get off on a siding (a short track connected to the main track) and wait for the scheduled train to pass before continuing. This resulted in great delays. Other problems existed because railroad companies all used different gauges, or widths of track, and the competing lines did not connect.
Steel v. iron rails 1856: British engineer Henry Bessemer developed a new process for making steel cheaply. In the Bessemer process, impurities were removed from molten pig iron by forcing a blast of preheated air through it. Thus purified, the iron was converted into steel by adding the necessary amounts of carbon and other substances. The process was accomplished in a large iron barrel that was shaped like a concrete mixer and lined with bricks that were capable of withstanding high temperatures. The barrel, or converter, was supported on two triangular frames, between which it could be tilted from a horizontal to a vertical position. Air was blown in through vents know as tuyéres and located either on the bottom of the barrel or in the side just above the level of the molten metal. While in a horizontal position, the barrel was filled with scrap iron, molten pig iron, and lime. Then it was tilted vertically and air was blown through. After this “blow,” pig iron containing a large amount of manganese was added, and the metal was poured into a ladle containing the correct amount of carbon. This was done very carefully so that slag, or the waste from the melting of the ores and separation of metals, would remain behind, to be removed later. The entire process took from 15 to 30 minutes. Its progress was judged by inspecting the flare of the flames and gases coming out of the mouth of the converter. This meant that the ironmaker had to be skilled in estimating the state of the metal by the type and color of the flare. The first Bessemer converter in the U.S. was built in 1864, 1858: the Siemens-Martin open-hearth method of producing steel was introduced. The first open-hearth furnace, which was better suited to American iron ore, was built in 1868 in the U.S. Both processes greatly increased steel production in the U.S. (and thus greatly reduced the cost of producing steel).
Steel v. iron rails With cheaper steel, railroad companies could begin to lay steel rails rather than the troublesome iron ones, which tended to warp. As the price of steel continued to drop steel rails completely replaced iron rails.
The railroad industry was an economic multiplier insofar as the railroad was a major consumer of coal (fired steam engines), crude oil (lubricant in the steam engine), and iron ore (rails, locomotive engines/cars)
Building a transcontinental railroad By 1863, the U.S. already had a fairly extensive rail system (moreso in the Northeast) As the government acquired more land and Americans began migrating West and developing an economy out west,the idea of building a railroad connecting east-west grew in popularity. The challenges of constructing a transcontinental line included geography (distance and engineering obstacles) and financing. Financing required government assistance. In 1850 Congress passed an authorization bill granting the transfer of federal (public) land and property by deed or writing. This and other land grants in the 1850s were designed to promote and finance railroad construction. The government subsidized land acquisition by individuals and companies in order to encourage its development and to boost the U.S. economy. Such policies also assisted the government in taking control of Native American lands by placing settlers there (immigrants and others seeking to move out West for whatever reasons). The greatest land grants resulted from the Pacific Railway Acts of 1862 and The railroads were the biggest land grabbers.
Before the Civil War, the North and South couldn’t agree on a route. Both the North and the South wanted to reap the fruits of a link-up with California and wanted their section to benefit from a transcontinental route. Where to build a transcontinental railroad became the principal issue of the Franklin Pierce presidency ( ). The best route was clearly through El Paso Texas and along the southern boundary of the U.S.. The southern route would have to cross high mountains only in what is now central Arizona. However, to build this route, the railroad would have to pass through part of Mexican Territory. The then Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, solved this problem in 1853 by purchasing a triangular shaped tract of desert in present day southern Arizona from Mexico for $10 million (the Gadsden Purchase, named after James Gadsden, the agent responsible for the deal). It appeared as though the transcontinental railroad would be built in the south (supported by southerners). However, Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois, who was Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Territories, revealed a central route plan that would make Chicago in his home state the eastern terminus of the line. In order to make a central route to California feasible, Douglas had to organize federal territories in the unorganized prairies of the mid-west. Only in official territories could the federal government provide the law, order, and security such a great construction project would require. However, southern congressmen were not likely to support a plan to organize territories so far north, particularly since, under the Missouri Compromise, slavery would be forbidden in those territories since they were north of 36°30’. Such a development would have tipped representation in the Senate in the North’s favor jeopardizing southern interests such as slavery. Obtaining a central route was more important to Douglas than was keeping slavery out of the territories. Douglas therefore introduced the Kansas Nebraska Act in According to this plan, the Missouri Compromise line would be repealed and slavery would no longer be forbidden north of 36°30’. Instead, the choice of whether to legalize slavery would be left to the voters who settled the newly organized Kansas and Nebraska territories. Popular Sovereignty (the will of the people) would resolve the question of slavery democratically in the territories, Douglas told the Senate. With southern support, the Kansas Nebraska Act became law. Southerners only supported this bill, however, because of the possibility it created to extend slavery into territory it was previously banned from. They still supported Davis’s sponsorship of the Gadsden Purchase. Meanwhile, a number of northern anti-slavery politicians detested the Kansas-Nebraska Act as a violation of the “sacred pledge” of the Missouri Compromise. As a result, these politicians broke from the party and formed the Republican Party. Despite northern positions on slavery, most northerners still supported Douglas’s proposal of a central rout. When the Civil War broke out all the southern representatives in Congress resigned their seats and/or were expelled for supporting secession. Without southern opposition, western farmers, northern industrialists, and businessmen, whose influence had been restrained by the sectional interests of southerners before secession, now had a free hand to establish policies favorable to themselves, such as constructing a transcontinental railroad in Chicago through the Central U.S..
Building a railroad was a very risky and costly investment. Investor didn’t know when, if ever, the new railroads would begin to return a profit and, thus, reward them for their risks. The small population between eastern Kansas and California made it impossible to attract private investment to construct a transcontinental line. With no customers along the way, there would be no profits and without profits, no investors. The government wanted to have the railroad built to carry troops and military freight, carry U.S. mail (would replace the Pony Express), to bind California and Oregon to the rest of the Union, and to promote industrial/ commercial expansion by providing access to raw materials and additional markets. In addition, the railroad would produce revenue for the government in the form of interest on government loans and the sale of lands to both the railroad and homesteaders. In fact, by 1945, railroads contributed over $900 million in payments for the land granted to them plus and additional $103 million in interest (the 131 million acres were originally worth $123 million).
The government provided both grants of land (from the public domain) as well as cash subsidies for the construction of new lines. At the time the grants of land were given to the railroad companies, it was practically worthless. The $ value of land is measured in terms of its usefulness. Any land in the central U.S. that wasn’t being used and/or settled fell within the public domain (i.e. it was held by the federal government). This land (at the time) was of little value to the government since it wasn’t developed or settled yet. It was with this land within the public domain that the government had the means with which to underwrite/subsidize railroad construction. In 1862, the Congress had committed the American people to underwriting the construction of a transcontinental line with the Pacific Railway Act under which the federal government gave away large amounts of land that fell within the public domain to railroad companies for the purpose of laying tracks out west. In order for the railroads to profit from these grants, they had to exercise their claim on it by building a track and thus encourage settlement on the lands they received. Once used and developed, the land would increase in value (including the land still owned by the railroad that remained unsold). This land could then be sold at a profit to the railroad. Additional profits/revenue could be earned in the form of passenger fares and freight rates. In addition, railroads started advertising campaigns showing life on the Plains as desirable in attempts to encourage more settlement. What’s more, railroads often offered discounts and rebates to those pioneers/prospective buyers willing to make the trek. In addition, towns along the proposed routes enticed the builders to choose them as depot sites by offering land, money, and tax exemptions/credits. These offers were made out of necessity because if/when a railroad bypassed a town, that town often died. Townspeople were aware of this too as were the railroads who often bid communities against one another. For example, the Atchison, Topeka and Sante Fe Railroad (often called the Sante Fe Railroad) did not even enter the city of Sante Fe—Instead, it passed through Albuquerque, New Mexico which offered the better deal.
Under the Pacific Railway Act, the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads would be provided by the government with “railroad track right of way” in the form of alternating 200 foot wide and ten mile long strips of land running from Omaha to Sacramento and totaling 6,400 square miles of land. Railroads used this extra land surrounding the track as backing for loans and/or sold it to raise revenue for construction. For each mile of track the two railroads built they would be given an additional 10 alternate sections (each measuring 1 square mile) of land on each side of the track. These land grants to the railroads would be taken from the public domain. The result was a checkerboard pattern belt of land 40 miles wide, of which the railroad company owned half. The “total federal land grants to the railroads” was larger than the “proportionate land area actually received” because half of the land grants was “sold to others or withheld”. Even though the federal government and state/local governments offered some help, the tremendous expansion of the railroad network during the last four decades of the 19 th century was accomplished mainly through the active private enterprise of railroad magnates within the railroad industry who developed innovative approaches. By 1868, each railroad line was earning approximately $32,000 for every mile of track that was laid.
To expand the amount of public land available to railroad companies, the act also authorized the U.S. to fail to carry out government treaties previously signed with the different Amerindian groups that granted those groups the same land for their own use. As a result, work units laying the railroad tracks were often attacked by Native Americans.
Due to construction/financial/other difficulties associated with building a railroad, a number of railroads were never finished and thus the railroad companies never exercised their claim or sold the land they had been given. In those cases, the federal government took back their title or deed to the land.
Both the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroad companies began construction in The Central Pacific Railroad broke ground at Sacramento in January while The Union Pacific Railroad Company broke ground at Omaha, Nebraska on December 2 nd with great fanfare, but the nation’s passions, profits, and manpower were soon directed toward the war effort once the Civil War broke out, so real construction didn’t begin until 1865 due to a labor shortage (most healthy males were serving in the Union Army). From the start, both companies viewed the project as a race and both worked at breakneck speed. The result: their hast resulted in a great quantity of poorly made track that had to be replaced before a train could run on the track (and this took place after they reached Ogden, Utah. The Central Pacific Railroad Company was organized in California by railroad engineer Theodore Dehone Judah. To handle the business end of the Central Pacific, Dehone Judah brought together a group of California men; “the Big Four” Collis P. Huntington (store owner) Leland Stanford (one term California governor elected in 1862) Mark Hopkins (businessman) Charles Crocker (store owner) Dehone Judah died before construction was fully underway—still, the “Big Four” went on to oversee the building of the Central Pacific Railroad. Control of the Union Pacific Railroad was largely under investor and railroad Vice President Thomas C. Durant.
Railroad construction Amerindians called the steam locomotive the “iron horse”. To construct their end of America’s first transcontinental railroad, the Union Pacific employed thousands of Civil War veterans and new Irish immigrants as well as convicts and freedmen to do pick and shovel work. All told, over 1,000 miles of Union Pacific track was laid. Former Union Army Brigadier General, Jack Casement, was hired to oversee work along the Union Pacific line. Casement carefully divided construction work into specialized tasks while establishing a simple, repetitive routine. Groups or units were formed based on the type of work or task: for example, Group A brought in the rail tracks on horse-drawn carts, Group B unloaded the carts and laid out the rails, Group C measured the rails to make sure they were the correct gauge, Group D bolted or joined the rails, and Group E hammered the spikes into the railroad ties to secure the rail to the bed (surface of earth prepared with gravel/broken stones and used as a foundation for the rail. Through this repetitive process, the Union Pacific Railroad line expanded at a rate of approximately 2 miles/day. Meanwhile, workers lived in a mobile tent city which was transported on flat cars to the point where the new railway construction ended.
Chinese Railroad workers Even after the Civil War the Central Pacific Railroad faced a labor shortage as most Californians were unwilling to do the difficult and dangerous work and many could earn more than the railroad’s going rate of $3-4/day. In addition, laborers in the eastern U.S. tended to go into mining. To meet this shortage, Crocker experimented with Chinese laborers as a last resort. Chinese laborers were willing to accept the harsh and dangerous conditions more readily than others. At the time srong anti-Asian sentiment was strong (In fact, Leland Stanford campaigned in 1862 on the promise to “protect” Californians from Chinese immigrants). Prejudice resulted from ethnic differences embodied by the queues (long braids), different clothing, language, religion, etc. Many Californians viewed the Chinese as immoral slaves and drug users (Opium). Central Pacific Railroad Superintendent Crocker, who wanted to employ Chinese laborers met with initial stiff opposition from his construction boss, James Harvey Stobridge, who argued that the Chinese were too frail for railroad work. To this, Crocker retorted: “Did they not build the Chinese Wall, the biggest piece of masonry in the world?” At first the railroad hired 50 Chinese laborers on a trial basis and Strobridge was quickly won over by their on-the-job performance, stating “they learn quickly, do not fight, have no strikes that amount to anything, and are very clean in their habits.”
Chinese Railroad workers The Chinese proved to be disciplined, sober, productive, efficient, clean, and healthy (they bathed regularly and ate fresh veggies and drank boiled tea). In addition, Chinese laborers were willing to work for less (e.g. the Central Pacific paid Irish workers $35/day with meals while paying Chinese workers $27/day without meals). Thus, of the 4,000 men at work on the railroad during the summer of 1865, some 90% were Chinese. Over 12,000 Chinese laborers comprised about 80% of the Central Pacific’s labor force. Furthermore, Chinese laborers were given many of the dangerous jobs. For instance, builders of the Central Pacific end of the line ran into many problems while constructing through the canyons and peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. There were high passes in the mountains through which the line could snake, but they were narrow and steep. The work of building through the Sierra Nevada mountains was done by approximately 10,000 Chinese immigrants who had to chip ledges into slopes, build roadbeds of rubble in deep canyons, construct trestles out of huge wood girders, and mine/tunnel their way through granite when there was no way around. At times, tunnels had to be blasted through the steep 7,000 fott high peaks. This was intense and physically demanding work. The Chinese cut through solid rock using mainly pick axes, often while being perched in precarious positions on mountain peaks. Heavy loads of rock and dirt had to be carried away on workers’ backs. In addition, the snow-capped peaks posed special hazards (especially when blasting TNT) as well as the brutal mountain winters and the desert heat. Originally, Chinese Workers were organized into gangs of twenty men under a supervisor. As work became more difficult, the gangs grew larger.
Chinese Railroad workers When the Central Pacific needed to build a railway bed half way up the precipice side of the American River gorge, the job seemed impossible. Then, some Chinese workers had an idea: they asked for reeds and wove them into waist high baskets with eyelets for inserting rope. Each basket held one to two Chinese workers who allowed themselves to be lowered half way down the cliff. Once there the men used and drills to bore holes in the cliff for the insertion of blasting powder. After lighting the fuse, they were pulled to safety before the explosion (unfortunately, this proved fatal for some). Most Chinese laborers worked 12 hour days six days a week, living in tents during bitterly cold winters. On some occasions they slept in tunnels dug deep beneath the snow. A few froze to death and many died in avalanches or explosions. Chinese worker bones are still buried on either side of the tracks all through the Sierra Nevada range.
During the spring 1869, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific construction crews came within sight of one another. The Union Pacific laid 1,086 miles of track at a cost of $70-80 million while the Central Pacific laid 689 miles of track at a cost of $36 million. When added to existing railroads, starting from the east coast, the nation was connected (upon the meeting of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific liens) by 3,500 miles of transcontinental railroad from New York to California.
Credit Mobilier Scandal As in the consolidation of eastern trunk lines, the business end of financing the construction of th transcontinental railroad was marred by gross corruption. In 1861 California chartered the Central Pacific Railroad to build the transcontinental line east from Sacramento. The concession was won by the “Big Four” railroad barons of California: Collis P. Huntington, Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker. These barons won the concession partly through luck, partly because Huntington was a quick man with a payoff. In 1862 Congress chartered the Union Pacific Railroad to build the transcontinental railroad west from Omaha, Nebraska territory. When the two met, they were to form the nation’s first transcontinental railroad. The federal government subsidized the building of these lines in the form of government bonds. $16,000 in subsidies were provided for each mile of track built on the plains; $32,000 for each mile of track built through hill country, and $48,000 for each mile of track built through mountain ranges. Stockholders in the Union Pacific Railroad saw an opportunity to make money. These stockholders formed the Credit Mobilier Construction Company. Construction contracts were paid for by the Union Pacific Railroad to their own construction company (these construction costs were actually paid for by the rest of the stockholders who invested in the Union Pacific Railroad). What’s more, The Credit Mobilier Construction Company placed artificially high bids. The extra money (above the actual construction costs) was pocketed by those Union Pacific stockholders with money invested in the Credit Mobilier Construction Company. Some members of Congress owned stock in the Union Pacific Railroad. These congressmen were bribed by agents of the company with shares of stock in the company or with stock purchased at half price. Those company agents in turn expected the congressmen on the take to hide their misconduct and possibly block congressional investigations in the matter. One of the government officials who was bribed was Schuyler Colfax (President Ulysses S. Grant’s Vice President).
First transcontinental railroad When the Union Pacific line and the Central Pacific line met at Promontory Point in Ogden, Utah on May 10, 1869, the nation’s first transcontinental railroad was built. Railroaders celebrated the joining of the two lines (and subsequent linking of the U.S. coast to coast with rails of steel) in a golden spike ceremony. Special trains carrying railroad officials and their guests arrived for the completion ceremony.
The transcontinental railroad cut the time it took to cross the continent from ocean to ocean from one month to one week. Furthermore, having made multimillionaires of its owners, the land grants to the first transcontinental railroad encouraged other groups to seek similar subsidies. A golden spike bearing a prayer for national unity was used to link the two railroad lines. Despite their enormous contribution to the construction of the transcontinental railroad, not one Chinese worker appeared in this famous photopraph of the railroad’s completion at Promontory Point, Utah on May 10, 1869.
Mort Kunstler, “The Golden Spike” “He Missed the Spike!” “When they came to drive the last spike, Governor Stanford, president of the Central Pacific, took the sledge, and the first time he struck he missed the spike and hit the rail. What a howl went up! Irish, Chinese, Mexicans, and everybody yelled with delight. ‘He missed it. Yee.’ The engineers blew the whistles and rang their bells. Then Stanford tried it again and tapped the spike and the telegraph operators had fixed their instruments so that the tap was reported in all the offices east and west, and set bells to tapping in hundreds of towns and cities….Then Vice President T.C. Durant of the Union Pacific took up the sledge and he missed the spike the first time. Then everybody slapped everybody else again and yelled ‘He missed it too, yow!’ When the connection was finally made, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific engineers ran their engines up until their pilots touched. Then the engineers shook hands and had their pictures taken, and each broke a bottle of champagne on the pilot of the other’s engine and had their picture taken again. The Union Pacific engine, the ‘Jupiter,’ was driven by my good friend, George Lashus, who still lives in Ogden. Both before and after the spike driving ceremony, there were speeches, which were cheered heartily. I do not remember what any of the speakers said now, but I do remember that there was a great abundance of champagne” Note: The telegraph message sent informed the nation “It is done.” “He missed the Spike” completion of the transcontinental railroad—the driving of the golden spike as witnessed by Alexander Toponce.
In 1864 Congress authorized the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad from Lake Superior to Puget Sound, connecting Duluth, Minnesota to Portland, Oregon and Tacoma, Washington. The Northern Pacific grant was doubly generous than that given to the Union and Central Pacific Railroads. The next year two more lines of track joined the two coasts: The Atchinson, Topeka, and Sante Fe Railroad ran from Kansas to Louisiana. Also completed in 1884, the Texas Pacific Railroad came to an arrangement in El Paso, Texas that made it possible to ship freight straight from New Orleans to San Francisco. The costs were considerable: the federal government gave the land grant railroads a total of 131 million acres of land worth a total $123 million. The state governments added an additional million acres. This amounted to an area larger than France and Belgium combined. Still, even though this government aid was a stimulus to railroad construction, only 8% of the total railroad mileage built in the U.S. between (18,738 miles) were built as a direct result of federal land grants and loans (most railroad construction was funded through private enterprise). Between some 137,000 miles of track were laid (there were only 53,000 miles of track in Feeder (branch) lines now linked the ½ dozen trunk (major) lines creating a railroad network serving every part of the country. After completion of the first Transcontinental railroad, the Central Pacific became known as the Southern Pacific. When the owner of the Southern Pacific, Edward Harriman, advocated a merger with the Union Pacific (“The Overland Route”), the Interstate Commerce Commission resisted, viewing it as an attempt to monopolize. The U.S. Supreme Court later upheld the I.C.C. decision.
One problem in building a transcontinental railroad that was not anticipated at first was that every town had its own clocks set to its own particular time. The astronomers said that it was “noon” when the sun reached its zenith (the highest point in heaven). Since the Earth was constantly in motion and since the sun rose sooner when you were more to the east, then whether it was yet noon depended on where you were. For example, the Pennsylvania Railroad tried to use Philadelphia time on it’s eastern line, but that was 5 minutes earlier than New York time and 5 minutes later than Baltimore time. In Indiana, there were 23 different local times; in Illinois, there were 27; in Wisconsin there were 38. Most railroads used the local time for their arrival in each station. In between cities, there was the greatest confusion. Yet for speeding trains a few minutes could make the difference between a clear track and a fatal collision. Finally it was suggested to use railroad (standard) time instead of sun time. In the U.S. that required marking off a few conspicuous time belts up and down the whole country (4 time belts in all: Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific time). Standard time would then be exactly the same for every location within each belt or time zone. At the end of each zone, time would change by one hour.
The passing of time and our measurement of it is based on the movement of the Earth and its relationship to the sun. The Earth rotates counterclockwise on its axis at a fairly regular speed, leaving parts of the Earth in light and part in shadow at various times throughout its constant rotation. Most people have developed a cycle of being awake when our particular part of the Earth is in light and sleeping when it is in shadow. The earth rotates 360° each day, equaling 15° per hour. Our system of time zones is based on this rate of rotation. Since the sun lights only part of the earth at a time, this system makes the time when the sun begins to light a particular place approximately the same in each different zone. There are 24 time zones and each is calculated from a base at the Greenwich Meridian in Greenwich, England. Each time zone farther east of the Greenwich Meridian is one hour later than the preceding time zone, up to 24 hours later. There are some local variations to the global time zone system; for instance, in the United States, our time zones do not measure exactly 15° in longitude. They are delineated by state borders and natural landscape borders as well. Before the adoption of standard time zones, local sun time was used. For instance, it was 12 p.m. (high noon) when the sun reached its zenith in the sky. Of course, local time varied from place to place in what would be each time zone. Such variations in time could be deadly if one is following a tight train schedule of departures and arrivals at any given station or terminal.
Standard Time Zones (adopted 1883) It took a while to convince everybody they ought to tamper with “God’s time”. Standard time was adopted by the railroads at 12:00 p.m. on November 18, At that time, everyone everywhere in the United States set their watches for whatever standard time it was depending on what time zone they were in. Congress adopted the 4 standard time zones in 1918
Standard Time Zones (adopted 1883) Railroads faced some major problems as they modernized their operations: –In order to coordinate their schedules and employees and to avoid collisions, the railroads were the first in the nation to adopt a system of standard (railroad) time instead of sun time. –Previously, the nation had run on a system of solar time, in which the local time was determined by the position of the sun (when the sun was at its zenith (highest point in the heavens directly over head), the clocks were set to noon). However, since the earth is constantly in motion, and since the sun rose sooner when you were more east, then whether it was yet noon obviously depended on where you were (noon in one town was several minutes apart from noon in a town miles away). For example, Philadelphia time was 5 minutes earlier than New York time and 5 minutes later than Baltimore time. In Indiana, there were 23 different local times, while in Illinois there were 27, and in Wisconsin 38! In between cities there was much confusion— given that most railroads used local time for their arrivals and departures, a few minutes could make the difference between a clear track and a fatal collision for speeding trains. The use of standard time involved marking off the U.S. on a map by a few conspicuous time belts—up and down the whole country. Each of the 4 time belts would be several hundred miles wide. Standard time would be exactly the same for all the places within each zone. At the edge of each belt the time would change by a whole hour. This system meant that everybody could know exactly what time it was everywhere.
The transcontinental railroad cut cross-country travel time from 26 days to 7.
Telegraph Communication The nation sought more immediate ways of communicating over long distances than the mail. In England in 1837 a successful electric telegraph system was invented by William Fothergill Cooke (1806–1879) and Charles Wheatstone (1802–1875). The telegraph system transmitted encoded information by signal across a distance. But even before the English telegraph system was in place, an American scientist, Joseph Henry (1797–1878), had been experimenting with electromagnets (a type of magnet in which the magnetic field is created by a flow of electric current; when the current ceases the magnetic field disappears) and was able to send controlled clicks, or signals, through a mile−long wire to a distant receiver. In 1831 Henry met American artist and scientist Samuel F. B. Morse (1791–1872) and shared his findings with him. Morse and his partners conducted more experiments and introduced new designs to the electromagnetic telegraph before demonstrating the product in Morse's telegraph consisted essentially of a battery for electricity, an electromagnet, and an electric switch known as the key. To send a message, the operator pressed down on the key. Electricity flowed out of the telegraph, into external electrical wires, and then to waiting receivers in other parts of the world. The electrical current flowed through the electromagnet, creating a magnetic field. The magnetic field caused the receiver's key to be attracted to the plate beneath it. As the key came into contact with the plate, it made a click. The sender could vary the sound of the click by holding the key down for a shorter or a longer period of time. To read the code, the receiver used Morse's code in which short clicks (dots) and long clicks (dashes) represented letters and numbers. Morse did not invent the telegraph by himself, but he was largely responsible for establishing it as a communication system in the United States. In 1843 he convinced the U.S. Congress to provide $30,000 to fund a telegraph line from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore. The line was completed on May 24, In front of a crowd in Washington, D.C., Morse sent to Baltimore the first official telegraph message, which read: "What Hath God Wrought.“ Within a few years there were fifty telegraph companiesin the United States. No other industry, not even the railroad, experienced more rapid growth. In 1848 every state east of the Mississippi except Florida was connected to the growing network. By 1852 more than twenty−three thousand miles of telegraph lines had been built. Newsgathering, business, financial, and transportation interests were revolutionized by the new means of instant communication. The telegraph, like the railroad, symbolized the advent of the new era in which the distances between people, institutions, and political units were drastically reduced.
Samuel F. B. Morse sending the first telegram.
Railroad construction Notice the telegraph lines that ran alongside the railroad as our nation’s “nervous system” (Samuel F. Morse invented the telegraph in 1844— Morse code was used to communicate messages in the form of dots and dashes). Imagine the disaster that would follow from an arriving train reaching the station before a departing train left, or two trains traveling in opposite directions down a one lane track! Clearly railroad schedules must be followed precisely. In this way, telegraph wire service was just as important as standard time zones.
Railroad communications Railroads were among the first businesses to set up a system of railroad telegraphers to relay information about train arrivals or delays to distant station. Prior to the widespread use of telegraphs in railroads, tight scheduling was nearly impossible and railroad collisions were frequent and deadly.
Developments in Railroad travel Once trunk lines were built, further developments were introduced making railroad travel both safer and more comfortable: Double sets of tracks were laid to replace single sets; not only would it be necessary for an eastbound train to get off on a siding so a westbound train could pass on a single set of tracks, but railroad shipments could be doubled because rather than rail shipments waiting for a track to be cleared so they could be sent out, they could be sent out immediately. Steel rails replaced iron rails which shattered under heavy loads (no shipments don’t have to wait while damaged iron rails were replaced) More durable iron/steel bridges replaced weaker wooden bridges/trestles Coal replaced wood to burn in locomotive engines (coal was a more efficient fuel) allowing goods to be shipped at cheaper rates.
t Railroad mileage doubled between , increasing by some 30,000 miles. This was an increase well beyond the immediate market needs/demands of the country. The sparsely populated west, the operation of so many trains was unjustified—thus, the returns on railroad investments were very poor. By 1890, the railroad network became overbuilt as competing lines were racing to put down track in order to lay claim to the best sites (whether railroad services were needed there or not). Many of the powerful businessmen were out for personal profit and did not care how long/well their company operated. The reckless expansion of the railroad triggered a financial panic in 1893 and hundreds of railroads collapsed. By 1895, one-third of the nation’s railroad mileage was in bankruptcy.
t During the 1870s and 1880s, four great transcontinental railroads opened up the West for settlement along with their branch lines serving as the “veins and arteries” of our rapidly industrializing, commercializing, and urbanizing society with commerce (travel and transport) serving as the “blood” and urban centers representing “organs”. Improvements in railroad transportation: George Pullman invented sleeping cars George Westinghouse invented air brakes (1869)
Pullman sleeping cars In 1851 contractor George Pullman took his first overnight train ride from Boston to Westfield, Massachusetts. At that time overnight passengers who wished to sleep were given cots or mattresses. Many sat up all night on stiff benches in smoky cars. Due to the growing number of businessmen traveling between cities, Pullman realized there was a market for comfort. Under a contract with the Chicago and Alton Railroad, he designed two oversized coach cars, dividing the space into ten sleeper sections with curtains. He hinged the upper berths so they could be opened at night and did the same with the chairs, so that both could swing up out of the way. Pullman paid enormous attention to details, outfitting the cars with cherrywood berths, plush upholstered seats, and soft, glowing oil lamps. Pullman’s next luxury car, the Pioneer, was patented in The sleeper was huge at 54 feet long and 10feet wide, with accommodations for fifty passengers. Each car contained thick carpeting, heavy curtains, French plate mirrors, black walnut woodwork, oil chandeliers, and fine linens that were changed daily. Porters carried baggage and attended to their riders’ needs. The luxury cars cost four times more to build than other sleepers, but the $2 fare for an overnighter in Pullman’s Pioneerwas only fifty cents more than conventional sleepers, and travelers loved them. In 1865 the Pioneer was chosen to transport the body of assassinated president Abraham Lincoln back to Springfield, Illinois, for his funeral. Pullman went on to add new elements of luxury to train cars. In 1868 he unveiled the first dining car, known as the Delmonico. In 1875 the first parlor car was introduced and featured upholstered swivel reclining seats. Within ten years of starting his business, Pullman had a virtual monopoly on luxury train travel in the United States.
Air brakes Quite often the braking systems were responsible for railroad accidents that occurred quite commonly and cost thousands of lives. –To stop the early railroad cars the engineer sent out whistle signals to brakemen stationed along the length of a train. These brakemen then turned hand brakes on each car. Inventor George Westinghouse created a train brake that consisted of an air pump powered by the train’s engine and which ran the length of the train with mechanical devices installed on each car to activate the brakes. –By equipping every car in a train with brakes and air pumps operated from a central point controlled by the engineer or brakeman using pneumatic (air) pressure, Westinghouse solved the problem of stopping long strings of cars, thus allowing for longer trains and reducing both lives and profits lost in train accidents. –In 1893, Congress passed the Railroad Safety and Appliance Act requiring railroads to equip all their cars with air brakes as well as with Janey automatic couplers (automatically lock so cars can’t come together). By percent of all trains were equipped with air brakes, making them much safer. Westinghouse became a multimillionaire from his invention
The transcontinental railroad made it easier to settle the West. Railroad expansion helped destroy the buffalo (formally called the North American bison). Cattle replaced the buffalo on the range and provided meat for fast-growing Eastern cities. The introduction of the refrigerated rail car by Gustavus Swift and Philip Armour facilitated this process. Trains carried cattle to Eastern markets and supplies to Western settlers. Until completion of the transcontinental railroad, those hesitant to travel west by overland route went around Cape Horn.
“The Granger Roads” Railroads that connected Chicago and St. Louis with the western transcontinentals
Map of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Connected Chicago to Omaha and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Black lines are trackage now owned by Union Pacific; green lines are trackage now owned by Canadian Pacific Railway (operated by DM&E); blue lines are now owned by other railroads; dotted lines are abandoned.
Map of Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Connected Chicago to Omaha, Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma
Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad map AKA “The Everywhere West” Railroad Connected Chicago with Omaha, and Kansas City, Denver, and Minneapolis/St. Paul
Before railroad business consolidation (i.e. monopilization/oligopolization), fierce competition among/between railroad tycoon and magnates was self-defeating/ self-destructive in many respects.
The Erie War (1860s) A bitter feud between Cornelius Vanderbilt and the Erie Railroad marked by attempts by tycoons of both railroads to take the property/profits from each other as competitors. When Daniel Drewe, Jay Gould, and James Fisk began buying up great quantities of Erie Railroad stock to the point they became controlling directors of the New York Railroad, they found a tough opponent in Cornelius Vanderbilt who purchased the Harlem Railroad (1857) as well as the Hudson River Railroad and the New York Central Railroad (1867). Vanderbilt, who was known as a ruthless businessman and competitor, already made his fortune in steamboat services. By the age of 71 (1865), Vanderbilt had a fleet of steamships worth $10 million alone. Vanderbilt started his own business at the age of sixteen when he bought a boat and used it to ferry passengers and freight across the New York Harbor. By the age of 70, Vanderbilt decided railroads were the wave of the future (see above acquisitions). Vanderbilt soon merged his railroads into one system extending from New York City to Buffalo. To eliminate the Erie Railroad, Vanderbilt (in his usual pattern) lowered his rates on railroad services drastically to take away the Erie Railroad’s business. Rather than lowering the rates on the Erie Railroad in response, Fisk bought a herd of cattle and shipped it at the reduced rates on Vanderbilt’s railroad (this cost Vanderbilt greatly). A disgusted Vanderbilt then decided to buy out the Erie Railroad altogether. He proceeded to buy all available company shares. In response, Drew, Gould, and Fisk promptly issued 100,000 worthless shares which Vanderbilt purchased. When Vanderbilt called for their arrest, the three men fled New York jurisdictional law to New Jersey whereupon they bribed several New York lawmakers to pass a law thatmade their dealings legal and they thus got away with swindling. They were able to keep the Erie Railroad which they subsequently drove into bankruptcy (as Vanderbilt stood to los a substantial investment). Still, despite losing the Erie Railroad, Vanderbilt went on to extend his railroad service to Chicago. He was reputedly the richest man in the world upon his death in 1877 at the age of 82 when he was worth about $105 million.