What were the economic and social changes of the transcontinental railroad?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were economic and social changes brought about by the development of the transcontinental railroad.  The transcontinental railroad helped the economy of the United States grow.  As people moved to the west, businesses also expanded westward to meet the growing demands of the increasing population. This business expansion created more jobs, and that encouraged further development of the west.  Miners, farmers, and cattle ranchers were some of the people who moved westward.  Eventually, as more and more people moved to the west, the railroads began to expand in a northern and southern direction. This created even more jobs and further increased the growth of the west economically.  This westward movement had some social impacts also. Immigrants from China and Europe were brought to the United States to work on the transcontinental railroad. Some of these immigrants faced discrimination.  This was especially true of the Chinese whom people felt were taking jobs away from Americans. This in part led to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.  Native Americans were also harmed by the westward expansion.  Native Americans were placed on reservations.  The movement of people to the west disrupted their entire way of life. The way of life of the Native Americans was significantly altered as the Americans who move westward killed the buffalo. We also saw the population of the west begin to grow because of the transcontinental railroad. This eventually led to more political power for the west as new states entered the country.  The transcontinental railroad had a significant impact on the United States economically and socially.