What was the most important contribution of the transcontinental railroad to our national development?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There were several important contributions that the transcontinental railroad gave to our national development. I will explain a few of these contributions so you can decide which one was the most significant.

One important contribution would be the growth and the development of our country. As a result of the building and of the completion of the transcontinental railroad, more people moved to the West. As a result of this movement, more businesses also moved westward. With the transcontinental railroad, it was easier and cheaper for people and products to be transported across the country. This growth was good for our economy. More jobs were created as we expanded to the west. Interstate trade also increased. Eventually, new states joined the country.

The transcontinental railroad impacted the Native Americans greatly. For the Native Americans, this was a devastating event. The transcontinental railroad brought more people to the West. This disrupted the Native American way of life as Americans wanted the land on which the Native Americans lived. This led to many battles between the U.S. Army and the Native Americans. Many Native Americans died in these battles, and they were forced to relocate to reservations. From the perspective of many Americans, relocating the Native Americans to reservations allowed the country to continue to grow. For the Native Americans, this expansion was deadly and devastating.

The transcontinental railroad helped us settle the land from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. Once the transcontinental railroad was built, branches of it were built extending to the North and to the South. This helped to settle lands in the Northwest and in the Southwest regions of the country. This furthered the growth of businesses and the growth of the economy. By 1900, many Americans wanted to continue our expansion by expanding overseas. Since we had already expanded across North America, it set the stage for the United States to become an imperial world power.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial