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Railroads of the Great West

What was the role of the railroads in the settlement of the Great West? The role of the railroads in the late 1800’s increased the population and the economy of the Great West. With the completion of the railroads in 1869, it opened the market for the eastern and western communities of the United States to bind the unsettled territory together. The railroad brought so much change at a rapid, exhilarating rate. It meant change in the lives of Indian people, white settlers, and even the game of hunting .

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I believe that the completion of the railroads in the Great West had 100% positive affects on the United States, even though there were some complications and conflicts. The First Transcontinental Railroad went into construction around 1863. With the idea of railroads, it stimulated economic growth. While producing many jobs for the population, it decreased poverty in the United States. The construction opened jobs for many immigrants and war veterans from the American Civil War. The American Civil War, from 1861-1865, slowed the construction down for a few years. The war was the primary task of the United States.

The war needed soldiers, steel products, and lumber for the continuous battle. These necessities were also the main products for the railroad construction at the time. The laborers needed steel products for railroad engines, rails, and spikes. Also, lumber was needed for the railroad ties and rail stations. When the war ended in 1865, the construction of the railroads kicked off to a start. The economy increased and laborers were able to provide for their families. The Indian People did not like the idea of the railroads being constructed. The railroads would interfere with the buffalo hunting and the Indian Peoples’ settlements.

The railroads created a problem, bringing an increasing number of white settlers and new ideas to the West. This made the Indian People insecure about their settlements and their way of life. The western lands were once the homeland for both the Indian People and the buffalo. The differences in cultural values and mindsets found the Indian People and white settlers at odds. Such differences between the Indians and white settlers would not allow them to live together until one defeated the other. More than a handful of wars were fought, Indian versus white. These onflicts enforced the United States Government to enforce reservations and peace treaties between the two groups. The Indian People did not like the idea of having their settlements being destroyed and forced onto reservations. Treaties made with the Indian Tribes following the American Civil War and along with many other treaties made huge amounts of surplus land available to public domain, and especially to rights of way for railroad construction. Although some treaties did not include railroad construction in the contracts, the opening of more land to white settlers certainly created routes for the railroads.

The Indian People were forced off their settlements by the United States Army and be placed on reservations. This created complications, but that’s why the United States Government created the peace treaties. With many complications and conflicts over the construction of the railroads, it was indeed a great boost to the United States. The railroads produced jobs and a way of transportation from the eastern to the western settlements. The economy increased due to new modernize technology being introduced out west. The trading of goods from east to the west was increased due to rapid transportation.

With the exploration and opening of the western settlements from the railroads, it increased the United States industrial revolution progress. Bibliography Ambrose, Stephen E. 2000. Nothing Like It In The World; The men who built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000 Henretta, James. 2010. America A Concise History Volume 2: Since 1865. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2010 “Transcontinental Railroad: American Indian Wars. ” United States at War: Understanding Conflict and Society. ABC-CLIO, 2009. Web. 13 Nov. 2009. .

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