A great READING resource with QUESTIONS and ANSWER KEY included! It focuses on the topic of Transcontinental Railroad.
Included are 1 page reading, 1 page question sheet and 1 page answer key! Perfect for homework assignments, classwork or reading for test review! Can be used for both middle and high school level.
The reading provides students a historical context of how railroads revolutionized the mode of transportation across the United States. It compares previous transportation methods by foot and by horse carriage. This illustrates the transformative effects of railroads on America’s society. In the next section, it breaks down the misconception of transcontinental railroad as the first railway system in America. It explains to students the transcontinental railroad was first of its kind to link the east coast to the west coast. Prior to that, there was existence of local railroads that served specific regions and major cities. For instance, the New York Central Railroad only ran services from New York City to Chicago. This only served the eastern region of the United States. One major flaw was its limitations in traveling beyond a certain section or region. The reading puts into context that at the peak of industrial America it needed a transcontinental railroad to ship goods to the west and east coast. The next section goes on to identify the various competitions between railroad companies for federal subsidies and land grants. This includes the Union Pacific and Central Pacific competing for government land grants to construct railway tracks from Omaha, Nebraska and Sacramento, California respectively. It explains to students why the government funded railroad companies in hopes to incentive and speed up the railroad construction. Students will also understand by the end of the 1890s there were four transcontinental railroads linking the different western regions.
In next half of the reading, it focuses on the immigrant work force who labored on the construction of the transcontinental railroad. For instance, the Union Pacific hired three thousand Irish immigrants to lay tracks westward across the Great Plains. They were severely underpaid as they worked for one or two dollars per day. On the other hand, the Central Pacific employed around ten thousand Chinese immigrants to construct tracks around the Sierra Nevada mountains. It was a treacherous task as it involved blasting explosives in mountains at an elevation of over 14,000 feet. This provides students an understanding of how the success of the transcontinental railroad was contributed by the efforts of immigrants. The reading moves on to the corruption scandals of how railroad companies bribed government officials to grant them more land grants. It highlights the Credit Mobilier scandal in which the Union Pacific paid its own construction company $94 million when in reality it costed about $44 million. This led to less money in financing a higher quality construction of the transcontinental railroad. The reading then concludes on the significant impacts of the transcontinental railroad on America. Despite the corruption scandals, the transcontinental railroad proved to be a revolutionary innovation. It increased business opportunities by shipping large quantity of goods from the east and west coast, unified the nation and represented as one of the greatest engineering feats of the time.
Some vocabulary words and key terms included are transcontinental railroad, New York Central Railroad, Great Plains, government subsidy, land grants, Homestead Act, Union Pacific, Central Pacific, Sierra Nevada, Chinese immigrants, Irish immigrants, corruption, Credit Mobilier, bribery, entrepreneurs and mass production.
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