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On May 10 1869 one of the most important achievements in the history of transportation was born In Promontory Utah the completion of the transcontinental railroad marked the beginning of a new era in moving the nation Two rival railroad companies Union Pacific and Central Pacific with the help of the government worked together and completed the famous route in just less than seven years The development of the transcontinental railroad that connected the United States significantly supported the urbanization and development of the West In 1818 Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton then editor of the St Louis Enquirer wrote a series of editorials proposing a network of roads and canals to connect the Missouri and Columbia Rivers This was the first idea of a transcontinental transportation system Besides the economic benefit to the coast and the states in between promoters hoped to capture European and Asian trades especially China and Japan What the US government was more interested in however was final confinement of the Indians It figured the railroad would hasten this along The government also wanted to reduce the cost of sending mail and supplies to the west It wasnt until 1853 that Jefferson Davis Secretary of War authorized army engineers to explore the five best routes to the Pacific No one could agree on an eastern starting point because whatever state it was would most likely gain an economic and political advantage They also couldnt agree on a route The Southerners didnt want the route to go through the north and vice-versa All routes were viable but the southern route on the 32nd parallel would be the cheapest Instead Theodore H Judah an engineer in the Sacramento Valley surveyed the final route The Bidwell-Bartleson party that traveled through Utah and Nevada in 1841 used part of this route Judah was obsessed with building a transcontinental railroad and convinced merchants Leland Stanford Charles Crocker Mark Hopkins and Collis P Huntington
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