Railroads (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: Nineteenth century railroads, especially transcontinental lines, signaled an end to the isolation of Indian lands and the destruction of traditional Indian economies, military capabilities, and cultural integrity
Through the early 1860's, American railroads were granted rights-of-way across Indian lands east of the Mississippi by treaties or by virtue of Indian removals such as occurred with the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole peoples that began in the early 1800's. By the 1850's, because of sectional politics, the lobbying of private businesses, a popular belief in Manifest Destiny, and a general desire to end Indian problems, proposals emerged at the federal level for construction of transcontinental lines. The Gadsden Purchase (1853) was based on visions of a southerly rail route to California, while additional proposals argued for more northerly lines crossing the United States and Canada.
These proposals came to fruition between the early 1860's and the 1890's, as Americans built the world's densest railway network, the centerpieces of which were the American (and one Canadian) transcontinental railroads: the Union Pacific-Central Pacific; the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe; the Southern Pacific; and the Canadian Pacific. Construction of these railways and their ancillary lines was partially subsidized by federal and state land grants that totaled 139 million acres west of the...
(The entire section is 292 words.)
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