transcontinental railroad

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"If any act symbolized the taming of the Northwest frontier, it was the driving of the final spike to complete the nation's first transcontinental railroad."1 The first railroad west of the Mississippi River was opened on December 23, 1852. Five miles long, the track ran from St. Louis to Cheltanham, Missouri. Twenty-five years prior, there were no railroads in the United States; twenty-five years later, railroads joined the east and west coasts from New York to San …

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…the automobile. "The whole significance…in western railroad history was their importance as a period of transition from pioneer conditions to those of the present day. Problems of construction and engineering gave way to those operation and manipulation… State legislation gave way to federal regulation … conditions had become such that the present-day user of the railroad have found himself pretty much at home. The pioneer had given way to the permanent to the permanent settlers."