Research Proposal: Transcontinental Railroad and Its Impact Upon the Civil War

Pages: 3 (875 words)  ·  Style: Chicago  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: American History  ·  Buy This Paper

Transcontinental Railroad connected the U.S. states and in effect greatly reduced the 'distance' in terms of travel time required and simultaneously served to fuel Westward Expansion in the U.S. The impact of the Transcontinental Railroad during the Civil War period can be very much likened to the impact of the World Wide Web in contemporary times.

The work of Mariek Van Ophem entitled: "The Iron Horse: The Impact of the Railroads on 19th Century American Society" relates that twenty years prior to the Civil War the U.S. was "still in a pioneer spirit." (2003)the Civil War served to delay the Transcontinental Railroad completion however upon completion the Transcontinental Railroads were accredited with "...annihilation of time and space with an enduring sense of wonder whenever a railroad penetrated a new region. When passengers found that they could get to distant places more quickly, they translated reduced time into contracting space and spoke as if distance places had grown closer." (Byrne, 2006) Byrne (2006) relates that Margaret Irvin Carrington wrote in 1869 that the transcontinental railroad "...with only a single wire to underlie the Pacific, the whole earth will become as a whispering gallery, wherein all nations, by one electric pulsation, may throb in unison, and the continent shall tremble with the rumbling of wheels that swiftly and without interruption or delay transport its gospel and commerce." By 1869, the Pacific Coast was only four days from Omaha, and Carrington reported."..[a]n officer of the army recently returned in forty hours over a distance which required a march of sixty-four days in 1866." (Byrne, 2006)


Research questions in this brief study include those of: (1) What the financial impact of the Transcontinental Railroad? (2) What area of the United States was most affected by the Transcontinental Railroad?


The research design in this study is one of a qualitative nature, which will be conducted through the form of a review of literature in this area of study.


Construction on the Transcontinental Railroad was completed on May 10, 1869. The railroads did not begin to create technological systems that were coherent until following the Civil War and the reason for this is the lack of a standardized system or a "single standard gauge..." (Byrne, 2006) Tracks were not the same and many lines that came into a city did not connect however, following the Civil War railroad technology is stated by Byrne (2006) to have "underwent...virtually perpetual refinement." Byrne relates that the "real economic significance of the railroads" was the movement of things over long distances at "relatively cheap rates..." (Byrne, 2006)

The railroads "consumed the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Transcontinental Railroad and Its Impact Upon the Civil War.  (2008, September 11).  Retrieved August 19, 2019, from

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"Transcontinental Railroad and Its Impact Upon the Civil War."  11 September 2008.  Web.  19 August 2019. <>.

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"Transcontinental Railroad and Its Impact Upon the Civil War."  September 11, 2008.  Accessed August 19, 2019.