The Union Pacific

The Union Pacific Railroad. Presented by: Angela Detzler 

Pacific RailRoad Act

In 1862, the United States Congress passed the Pacific Railroad Act. This led to the creation of the Union Pacific. I am unable to go into great detail, being that the History of the Union Pacific is very broad.  So I will try to stay close within the Economic range.

The Union Pacific was one of Americas first railroads. This was one of the biggest tasks set out for the 1860s workforce. This railroad was to span from Omaha all the way to Sacramento. At this time it was considered some of the most difficult terrain on earth. According to David McCulloch this was the work of Politicians, construction bosses, and thousands of workers.

Some of the Cost of Building the railroad

The financial economic building of this railroad was over $100,000,000 in 1860s. The government bonds, and railroad company bonds, plus stocks from private investors would cover most of the investment need to build this railroad. Most of the land was government owned land, and was sold at very low cost if work was done on the land.

money 1860

The workers

The laborers were a very important aspect of the building of this railroad. Most were Chinese immigrants, and Mormons. According to Wikipedia most Chinese immigrants were brought over from Kwangtung China just to work the railroad. The Chinese immigrants would send there money back to China for their families. They had no intention on staying in America. Most of the men would get paid $2-$3 per day. According to Chinese standards that was a fortune. There were approx 3,000 Chinese and 1,700 white workers in the early 1860s. Throughout the entire railroad making process Chinese workers made up almost 90% of the workforce. This resulting in a second wave of Chinese immigration.

railroad asian workersrailroad workers


As some weather conditions impacted the development of this railroad with Spring flooding, washed out rails, bridges, and telephone poles, causing at least $50,000 the first year.

The most conflict was between the railroad and the Native Americans. The Native Americans attacked Railroad workers killing hundreds at a time. This also ran up the cost of building the railroad. The government had to pay troops to guard and protect the railroad line.

Native Americans and railroad

According to Harsh winters, staggering summer heat, Indian raids and the lawless, rough conditions of newly settled western towns made conditions for the Union Pacific laborers–mainly Civil War veterans of Irish descent–miserable. The overwhelmingly immigrant Chinese work force of the Central Pacific also had its fair share of problems, such as brutal 12-hour work days laying tracks over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. On more than one occasion, whole crews would be lost to avalanches, or mishaps with explosives would leave several dead.

Completion of the Union Pacific

In conclusion the railroad provided a huge boost in the American Economy. The Union Pacific workers were able to finish the railroad–laying nearly 2,000 miles of track–by 1869, ahead of schedule and under budget. Their work had an immediate impact: The years following the construction of the railway were years of rapid growth and expansion for the United States, due in large part to the speed and ease of travel that the railroad provide. railroad



Google Images for all photo’s provided