Talk:First Transcontinental Railroad

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Former good article First Transcontinental Railroad was one of the Engineering and technology good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
April 1, 2007 Good article reassessment Delisted
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Strange Paragraph of unsourced claims[edit]

"This changed, however, as the work entered Indian-held lands. The Native Americans saw the addition of the railroad as a violation of their treaties with the United States. War parties began to raid the moving labor camps that followed the progress of the line. Union Pacific responded by increasing security and hiring marksmen to kill American Bison, which were both a physical threat to trains and the primary food source for many of the Plains Indians. The Native Americans then began killing laborers when they realized that the so-called "Iron Horse" threatened their existence. Security measures were further strengthened, and progress on the railroad continued."

I see at least 12 "facts" presented in this paragraph without any sourcing whatsoever. This is particularly troubling considering it is discussing armed conflict between two parties from only the victors points of view.67.2.135.159 (talk) 12:34, 20 May 2011 (UTC)


Wikipedia Guidelines[edit]

Would someone (i.e., a Wikipedian authorized to edit the page) mind changing all those yucky double hyphen minuses into em dashes? They're preferred by the guidelines. Just replace -- with — 69.249.155.229 (talk) 21:22, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Locked?[edit]

It would be nice to change this text (I think it's awkwardly written), but the article is locked. "Shortly after he arrived, however, Judah there died on November 2, 1863, of Yellow Fever..." 67.168.238.184 (talk) 19:41, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

It would be nice if we could leave the article open for editing, but as it's a high-profile subject in American schools, this page tends to attract a high rate of vandalism from anonymous editors. I've updated the text a little based on your suggestion. Slambo (Speak) 20:13, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

I agree referring to credit mobilier as shenanigans is not necessarily accurate or at least ambiguous. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.81.46.51 (talk) 19:58, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Good Article Review[edit]

This article is currently at Good Article Review. LuciferMorgan 09:38, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Is the route correct?[edit]

Please have an expert check the route carefully one more time. I just corrected a faulty part, that somehow survived all your reviews. --h-stt !? 11:09, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

There's an interactive map on the PBS website showing the route. Their further reading section links to a site called Railroad Maps, which includes a high resolution download from here. I don't have the interest to check it pesonally. -xlynx 04:22, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

Misleading title[edit]

The First Transcontinental Railroad, was the Panama Canal Railway, with 47 mile, joined the Atlantic with the Pacifics oceans, on january 1855 —Preceding unsigned comment added by Smilegioconda (talkcontribs) 14:40, August 11, 2008

Please review the discussion elsewhere on this page. The consensus is to keep this article at its current name because "First Transcontinental Railroad" is the popular name for this work of engineering; it is a proper noun and not a descriptive phrase. Slambo (Speak) 21:01, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
When opened in 1855, the Panama Railroad was correctly described and referred to by the press and public as: "That great enterprise, the inter-oceanic [not transcontinental] or Panama Railroad across the Isthmus [not continent], is completed, and the rough Atlantic is now wedded, with an iron band, to the fair Pacific." (See "A Great Enterprise" The Portland (Maine) Transcript, February 17, 1855) (Centpacrr (talk) 22:42, 11 August 2008 (UTC))

The world's first transcontinental railroad was actually the Panama Railroad which connected the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in 1855.

As I commented in the Transcontinental Railroads article, I suggest that the U.S. Railroad is moved to an article entitled Second Transcontinental Railroad or an article entitled First Transcontinental Railroad in the United States, and the First transcontinental railroad article redirects to the history of the Panama Railroad.

--WikiDrive (talk) 09:01, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

This was discussed over a year ago and closed with no consensus for a move. The comments are in the archive. Slambo (Speak) 14:35, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
I don't see a discussion of any substance - I'm putting this in for a requested move. It is only the first transcontinental railroad in the United States, and the title should reflect that. fishhead64 (talk) 03:33, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
The Panama Railroad is NOT a transcontinental railroad as it only crossed an isthmus, not a continent. The CPRR/UPRR was originally referred to as the "Pacific Railroad" when being built and after it opened in 1869, and then the First Transcontinental Railroad when the Northern Pacific, Southern Pacific, Atlantic & Pacific, DRGW, and routes were opened in subsequent years. The term "First Transcontinental Railroad" is, in fact, more of an accepted and well recognized "proper" name then it is a description. For that reason alone the article should retain that name. (The Canadian Pacific [1881], Trans Siberian [1916], Trans-Australian [1917], and other "transcontinental" roads were all completed after 1869 as well.) (Centpacrr (talk) 03:45, 5 June 2008 (UTC))
"The Panama Railroad is NOT a transcontinental railroad as it only crossed an isthmus, not a continent." That's debatable. And if it is a proper name, how recognisable is that to your average encyclopedia reader from outside the United States? fishhead64 (talk) 03:52, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
"Isthmus" n. A narrow strip of land, bordered on both sides by water, connecting two larger bodies of land. "continent" n. One of the main landmasses of the globe, usually reckoned as seven in number (Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Australia, and Antarctica). Not the same thing at all. In addition to being a recognized name for the line, it was also the first railroad completed across a continent. (Centpacrr (talk) 04:01, 5 June 2008 (UTC))

Big Four question[edit]

Was James P. Bailey really one of the original Big 4? I thought that Colis P. Huntington was the fourth. If not, his name still needs to be connected with the Big 4 at some point, as he became important very shortly afterwards (as is indicated already). Tony Waters213.182.148.50 (talk) 10:37, 11 February 2008 (UTC)

No, it was Crocker, Huntington, Stanford and Hopkins. See The Big Four for more detail. Slambo (Speak) 12:28, 11 February 2008 (UTC)


Original track?[edit]

In areas where the original line has been bypassed and abandoned, primarily in Utah, the road grade is still obvious, as are numerous cuts and fills, especially the Big Fill a few miles east of Promontory. The sweeping curve which connected to the east end of the Big Fill now passes a Thiokol rocket research and development facility. Where exactly is that stretch of abandoned road? Anybody know the coordinates? Thanks --Ragemanchoo (talk) 10:23, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

First Transcontinental RailroadFirst United States transcontinental railroad — The present title is misleading and untrue. This is not the first transcontinental railroad. It is the first US or North American transcontinental railroad, and the title should reflect that —fishhead64 (talk) 03:39, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Notification left at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Trains. Slambo (Speak) 11:25, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Survey[edit]

Feel free to state your position on the renaming proposal by beginning a new line in this section with *'''Support''' or *'''Oppose''', then sign your comment with ~~~~. Since polling is not a substitute for discussion, please explain your reasons, taking into account Wikipedia's naming conventions.
  • oppose See my reasoning below (Centpacrr (talk) 05:44, 5 June 2008 (UTC))
  • oppose for reasons below. The name offers no value added and doesn't address an inaccuracy of any such name claim Americasroof (talk) 14:36, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Oppose: see my reasoning below regarding Russell's photograph

Discussion[edit]

Oppose: While the CPRR/UPRR was originally referred to as the "Pacific Railroad" when being built and after it opened in 1869, it also became known as the First Transcontinental Railroad when the Northern Pacific, Southern Pacific, Atlantic & Pacific, DRGW, and other routes were opened in subsequent years. The term "First Transcontinental Railroad" is, in fact, more of an accepted and well recognized "proper" name then it is a description. For that reason alone the article should retain that name. In addition the Canadian Pacific (1881), Trans Siberian (1919), Trans-Australian (1917), and the other "transcontinental" roads were also all completed well after 1869. Some claim that the Panama Railroad (1855) is the "Frist Transcontinental Railroad" because it connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but this is also incorrect. The Panama Railroad only crossed an isthmus (a narrow strip of land, bordered on both sides by water, connecting two larger bodies of land), not a continent (one of the seven main landmasses of the globe -- Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Australia, and Antarctica). That is not the same thing at all. (Centpacrr (talk) 05:44, 5 June 2008 (UTC))

  • Comment Of course the Panama Railroad was and is a transcontinental railroad. Its completion was widly haied as an an astonishing and historic achievement at the time. I see nothing in the definition of continent that says it is a continent only at its wide points, never at its more narrow points. And if one wishes to argue semantics, the Panama Railroad actually went all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific as a single railline, which arguably could make it much more of an actual trancontinental railroad than this one. That said, I have no objection to the article being at "First Transcontinental Railroad" if that is what it was commonly called (so long as the those who bother to read the details of the article can understand the name may not be a technically accurate description). -- Infrogmation (talk) 13:44, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Comment about what was really first railroad across U.S. - I dislike the current name of "First Transcontinental Railroad" but dislike the proposed "First United States transcontinental railroad" even more. I put the disambig on the top of the page a while back to sort this out. First Transcontinental Railroad is widely used to describe the Omaha to Sacramento project (neither of which is on a coast) and so the proposed name change doesn't seem to offer any value added. And in the for what it's worth department the Omaha to Sacramento railroad was never connected by land to the nation's eastern railroads at Omaha until 1872 when a bridge was finally built across the Missouri River to Council Bluffs, Iowa (which was supposed to be the official eastern starting point of the railroad project). The first true continental railroad was in 1870 via Kansas Pacific and Denver Pacific connecting to the Union Pacific after the Missouri River was bridged at Kansas City. Until we can come up with a better name to describe the situation, I don't see any reason to change it. Americasroof (talk) 14:36, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
Note about precedents - A while back the Pony Express article ran into a similar discussions since there were other instances where horses were used for fast delivery of the mail. This was addressed by saying the article was specifically about a business operation between St. Joseph and Sacramento. The First Continental Railroad clearly says it is about a business operation between Omaha and Sacramento. Americasroof (talk) 14:43, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Panama Railroad as Transcontinental Railroad: The Panama Railroad as used in "transcontinental" travel between New York and San Francisco before 1869 was actually only a very small portion (between Aspinwall and Panama City) of the entire ticketed passage which was offered by the North American Steamship Company prior to the completion of the Pacific Railroad with the vast majority of the trip being made over water by steamer. I see that the contention that the Panama Railroad is a "transcontinental" railroad is derived from an entry to that effect originally made by Infrogmation on February 2, 2004, in the article Transcontinental Railroad and on December 27, 2004, by RJII (since permanently banned from editing for abuse), but neither of these contentions (or the current portion of the article still claiming that the Panama Railroad is a "transcontinental railroad") cite any references to support it. When opened on January 28, 1855, the railroad was actually referred to as the "Inter-Oceanic" railroad. Using this logic, a railroad running from Miami, FL, on the Atlantic Ocean to Tampa, FL, on the Gulf of Mexico could also be described as a "transcontinental railroad" as well which would, I think, be misleading. (Centpacrr (talk) 19:36, 5 June 2008 (UTC))

Reply No, the analogy between Florida and Panama doesn't work. Panama is at the bottom of the continent. There is nowhere else to go - if you take Panama out, the continent is shorter. If you take Florida out, it isn't. In any event, the real issue, imo, is that the title is confusing. If this is about the FIRST transcontinental railroad, why not merge it with transcontinental railroad? Because it isn't, really, it is about the first transcontinental rail crossing of the United States. By renaming the article in line with this reality, we completely avoid the diverting argument about whether Panama is part of a continent or not - which, whether you like it or not, is not clear-cut. Given these points, what, exactly, is your objection? fishhead64 (talk) 00:24, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
  • "First Transcontinental Railroad" is the common name for this work of engineering, as is used, for example in one of the references in the article [Bain, David Howard (1999). Empire Express; Building the first Transcontinental Railroad. Viking Penguin. ISBN 0-670-80889-X. ]. I'm sure we can find other references dating back quite some time that also call it that. It also seems much less likely to me that the Panama Railroad's common name would be First Transcontinental Railroad. The key here is that this article's title is a proper noun and not a descriptive noun. Slambo (Speak) 11:43, 6 June 2008 (UTC)

I agree fully with Slambo as this is exactly my point: the term "First Transcontinental Railroad" is the commonly accepted name for this work of engineering and has been for more than a century. In addition to David's book you can also see my own 2005 book, Riding the Transcontinental Rails: Overland Travel on the Pacific Railroad 1865-1881, and the late Steve Ambrose's tome Nothing Like It in the World. (Centpacrr (talk) 12:57, 6 June 2008 (UTC))

I plead guilty to starting the article on the Panama Railway, as I saw it as an important subject no one else had gotten around to previously. However I cannot claim credit for being the first to notice that it was "transcontinental". My mid-20th century Encyclopedia Americana uses the term in reference to it, and I strongly doubt they were the first. -- Infrogmation (talk) 20:15, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Consensus against move. DMacks (talk) 17:45, 11 June 2008 (UTC)

Original Western Pacific/Central Pacific Connection to SF Bay?[edit]

Although initially slippery on the western terminus of the line, the Pacific Railway Act included land grants and bonds for the railroad between Sacramento and San Francisco. The CPRR informally conveyed their rights to build this line to a number of San Francisco businessmen who were already building a railroad from San Francisco to San Jose. The 1865 Pacific Railway Act formalized the the original Western Pacific's role in building the line west of Sacramento. They successfully completed 20 miles of construction from San Jose into Niles Canyon before succumbing to liquidity problems in 1866. The Associates bought this company in 1869, and completed the line from Sacramento to Oakland and San Jose in the fall.

Due to its authorization by the Pacific Railway Act, its connection to California's most populous city (via rail and ferry), and its completion to the salt water of the bay, I believe this portion of the First Transcontinental Railroad should be included. I do not want to step on any toes, and I see there have been a lot of problems with this article. I am therefore asking to see if there is support for adding the original Western Pacific and the line from Sacramento to the Bay Area. Thanks. Rrrarch (talk) 08:06, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

I encourage you to add what you can. I've always thought this article was weaker than what you might expect. I did the last major revision here which was more than a year ago. I added quite a bit on the Union Pacific side and kept meaning to come back for further clarifications and clean ups but never quite got around to doing it. The histories of its connectons on either end is of interest. The term "Transcontinental Railroad" was a misnomer when the spike was driven. It was not directly connected to the eastern railroads (trains had to be ferried across the Missouri River at Omaha) and as you mentioned there was some drama on the west. The map associated with the article is sort of misleading in that the western portion is captioned "Built later." If you start cleaning up the article that spur me to come back and start back on my todo list for the article. Americasroof (talk) 14:17, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

Arizona Territory Gold Spike[edit]

The image of a gold spike from Arizona Territory has nothing to do with the First Transcontinental Railroad. The gold spike that was at Promontory is at the the Cantor Center for the Arts at Leland Stanford Jr. University in Palo Alto. A nearly identical spike manufactured at the same time is owned by the State of California and is on display at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.

This photo should be removed from the article. Rrrarch (talk) 08:14, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

Multiple gold spikes were placed at Promentory (and then removed). The one in the photo (which I took) was taken at the Union Pacific museum in Council Bluffs (and was on loan from a New York museum). I would prefer a photo of the California spike. But one has not been forthcoming. The photo caption clearly identifies it as the "Arizona" Territory spike. Americasroof (talk) 13:59, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

Russell's 1869 photograph[edit]

It is VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION REGARDING THIS PICTURE: Russell's 1869 photograph that commemorates the building of the transcontinental railroad deliberately FAILS to include the hundreds of Chinese workers who were just outside the frame of the photograph. In Mirror-Travels, Jennifer L. Roberts describes the positioning of this photograph as follows: "Russell's 1869 photograph had been carefully posed to exclude the hundreds of Chinese workers standing just outside the frame" (116). The deliberate negation of Chinese labor to this photograph represents what Russell has described as reflective of "19th century Anglo-American nationalism." This version of nationalism is rooted in ideas of manifest destiny, white nativism and a version of the US that negates the larger American ethnic population.

Although 10,000 recruited Chinese laborers built most of the transcontinental railroad, they were consistently paid less then their white counterparts and worked under deplorable conditions. In Mappers of Society, Ronald Fernandez describes the inhuman conditions that the Chinese worked: "They worked for a dollar a day—half the wages of “white” men—sometimes under harsh conditions. During the winter of 1866, for example, railroad executives decided that even with snow on the way, workers would drill a tunnel through solid granite. Thousands of Chinese immigrants labored underground in snow tunnels throughout the day and the night. Officials did note that many workers died when avalanches buried them in snow. Their bodies were recovered when the spring thaw allowed workers to dig out their frozen comrades" (174).

When the transcontinental railroad was finished, Russell’s 1869 photograph of the transcontinental builders posed the picture in such a way that it excluded the hundreds of Chinese workers who were just outside the frame of the picture.

Unfortunately, even in recent time, this same erasure repeated itself in 1969 with The Golden Spike Centennial commemorated of the original 1869 spike-driving ceremony with a costumed reenactment, replicas of the two original locomotives, and the original Golden Spike that was re-drove at the precise time that it happened in 1869. However, this time protesters asserted the ways in which the historical narrative and—as Roberts asserts—“the entire ideology of nineteenth-century Anglo-American nationalism” was reproduced in this 1969 reenactment (116). In dissent, these protesters were there to draw more attention to the unacknowledged Chinese contribution, and to assert that the celebration of the railroad served as a genocidal vehicle for 19th century Native American populations.

DO NOT NOMINATE THIS PHOTO FOR AN AWARD! IT IS EXCLUSIONARY, RACIST, AND DELIBERATELY NEGATES THE INCLUSION OF AMERICAN ETHNIC LABOR TO US HISTORY! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Xiphophorus (talkcontribs) 19:36, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

The Chinese workers were being honored at a dinner in the CPRR construction chief J.H. Strowbridge's private car when the Russell post-ceremony photograph was taken[edit]

The reason that the Chinese workers who participated in the ceremony do not appear in the A.J Russell photograph is that it was taken after the ceremony at which time the Chinese were being feted by CPRR construction chief J.H Strobridge at a dinner in his private car. At the completion of the ceremony joining of the CP & UP rails the polished California Laurel tie was taken up to be returned to California and the Chinese replaced it with a standard pine wood tie with common spikes substituted. A reporter for the San Francisco Newsletter & California Advertiser, described the final moments of the celebration in the May 15, 1869, edition of the paper thusly:
  • "That [replaced tie] was immediately attacked by hundreds of jack knives and soon reduced to a mere stick. The ever watchful Chinese then took the remains, sawed into small pieces and distributed to the spectators. The Chinese really laid the last tie and drove the last spike. When we last saw the spot, soldiers were hammering away at the flanges of the rails and carried off all the pieces they could break, so that a new rail would soon be necessary. Six ties and two rails were demolished before the juncture was left in peace to the slower inroads of time.
  • "J.H. Strobridge, when the work was all over, invited the Chinese who had been brought over from Victory for that purpose, to dine at his boarding car. When they entered, all the guests and officers present cheered them as the chosen representatives of the race which have greatly helped to build the road...a tribute they well deserved and which evidently gave them much pleasure."
(Centpacrr (talk) 01:06, 10 July 2009 (UTC))

Bankruptcy and Failure to Pay[edit]

The article discusses the bankruptcy and scandal associated with the funding maneuvers of the railroad magnets, but fails to discuss the wide implications of the financial collapse. Many suppliers and laborers, including Brigham Young and his Mormon crew [1], remained unpaid/received partial payment/or bartered for excess railway material in place of their wages. The ceremony of the Last Spike was delayed when some unpaid laborers took at least one official "hostage" until their wages were paid. Some small businesses and communities were entirely ruined. Need for expansion here. WBardwin (talk) 02:57, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

"Emigrants" vs "Immigrants"[edit]

With regard to the usage of the term "emigrants" vs "immigrants" see any of the following examples and/or references: [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13], [14], [15], [16], [17], [18] Centpacrr (talk) 21:07, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

Sorry if I wasn't clear enough in my edit summary, you didn't need to go to all this trouble. I don't dispute that "emigrant" was common usage in the 19th century, I'm only saying that "immigrant" is the modern usage for people coming to a place. Like I said, I think "Chinese immigrant" is better to use in the article, but it isn't important enough to argue about. As far as I'm concerned, feel free to leave it as is if you prefer it that way. --Floquenbeam (talk) 21:32, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
You were clear in your edit summary, but what I was pointing out was that "emigrants" was the term used virtually exclusively at the time to describe persons who moved permanently from one distant place to another both as individuals and as as a class (or group) irrespective whether talking about where they were coming from or going to as you can see from the various sources I posted above. (I have also written and/or edited two books on the subject of 19th century railroads and their association with emigration: "Riding the Transcontinental Rails: Overland Travel on the Pacific Railroad 1865-1881" (Polyglot Press, 2005) and "The Classic Western American Railroad Routes" (Chartwell Books; scheduled or publication in April, 2010) as well as my many writings and other contributions to my family's ten-year old, 10,000+ webpage railroad history site, "The Central Pacific Photographic History Museum".) Centpacrr (talk) 06:33, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Regardless of whether the term 'emigration' was used in the past to describe what 'immigration' means now, surely the correct current usage should be used? We're not trying to revert to old English, instead we're writing an encyclopaedia. To my knowledge, if you are discussing the movement of a person or group to another place then you would either say they "immigrated to *destination*" or "emigrated from *original place*". Whilst I appreciate the past usage of the term, it doesn't feel right to use the word 'emigrate' in modern day language (such as the one we're writing the encyclopaedia in). In short, I have to agree with Floquenbeam. Regards, --—Cyclonenim | Chat  17:37, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

Ethnic discrimination of photo of completion?[edit]

I heard once that when the Golden Spike was driven and a photo was made of everyone present they excluded all the Chinese laborers (allowing only the Irish to remain); if this happened there should be a brief mention of it. Historian932 (talk) 16:55, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

That's more myth than fact. The Irish worked for the UP, the Chinese worked for the CP, so except for when the rails met, there never would have been an opportunity for them to appear in the same picture. Although it's not sourced (a serious problem with most rail articles), the article Golden Spike does claim that pictures were taken of the Chinese laborers, and they were included in the ceremony.Dave (talk) 20:24, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
From my note of last July above: "A reporter for the San Francisco Newsletter & California Advertiser, described the final moments of the celebration in the May 15, 1869, edition of the paper thusly:
  • "... The Chinese really laid the last tie and drove the last spike. ... (CPRR Construction Chief) J.H. Strobridge, when the work was all over, invited the Chinese who had been brought over from Victory for that purpose, to dine at his boarding car. When they entered, all the guests and officers present cheered them as the chosen representatives of the race which have greatly helped to build the road....a tribute they well deserved and which evidently gave them much pleasure."
The Chinese workers were well represented at the Last Spike ceremony and were appropriately feted there for their many great construction efforts. Centpacrr (talk) 22:50, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
To be fair, were the article sourced better, this perhaps could have been avoided.Dave (talk) 02:06, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Unfortunately to one degree or another this has been a controversy that has lasted 141 years now, and I don't imagine it is one that will ever be put completely to rest. Centpacrr (talk) 04:00, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

Dubious: Council Bluffs starting point?[edit]

Dubious starting point: Never seen any source indicate the start of UP Lines. Also the UP Missouri Bridge was not built until 1872 so there was no connection to Iowa until then, so how could UP have started in 1869? Should probably just be Omaha as start point. --Mistakefinder (talk) 19:28, 1 February 2010 (UTC) If Council Bluff is statutory starting point, then Omaha is not then. How could there be two starting points?--Mistakefinder (talk) 19:41, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

See Executive Order of Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, Fixing the Point of Commencement of the Pacific Railroad at Council Bluffs, Iowa. dated March 7, 1864. (38th Congress, 1st Session SENATE Ex. Doc. No. 27) .Centpacrr (talk) 19:44, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
While Omaha is the effective "starting point" listed in contemporary timetables (and also the location of the UP's headquarters and main depot), Council Buffs was the legally designated eastern terminus of the UP as established by Executive Order signed on March 7, 1864, by President Lincoln. Both cities (which are located directly opposite each other on the shores of the Missouri River) are therefore properly listed jointly for accuracy and clarity. Prior to the opening of the UP's railroad bridge in 1873, passenger and freight trains were carried across the river between Council Bluffs and Omaha by transfer ferry boat. All of this is discussed at length in two of my books: "Riding the Transcontinental Rails: Overland Travel on the Pacific Railroad 1865-1881" (2005), Polyglot Press, Philadelphia, 445 pages, illustrated ISBN 1-4115-9993-4, and "The Classic Western American Railroad Routes" (2010) New York: Chartwell Books (US) / Bassingbourn: Worth Press (UK); 320 pages, illustrated. Centpacrr (talk) 20:04, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

in section Laborers[edit]

"Many more were imported from China."

Were imported? This unbelievably thoughtless and contemptuous wording evidently suggests that these callously exploited people were some kind of commodity. At the very least, some reference to the ruthless and severe domination of China by European powers and the USA in the 19th century and the actively pursued USA policy of abducting the poorest Chinese as disposable semi slave laborers is in order here. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 85.146.200.50 (talk) 12:54, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

I think you're being overly sensitive here. I would probably say "recruited" rather than "imported", but the sentence is still correct. No matter the verb, a significant number of workers on the western half of the rail road came from one region of China. However, the reason I chimed in here is regarding this recent edit [19]. While I do not doubt for a minute the book says this, I wonder how precise the figure "90%" is. I would prefer that we just say "mostly Chinese" without citing an exact figure, as I doubt such a figure exists. There were also contingents of locally hired workers to grade paths in the area near their residence (particularly as the railroad was nearing the meeting place in Utah), making the racial makeup of the crew ever changing. Dave (talk) 16:32, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

Deletion of unsupported, inaccurate Helen Zia POV claims regarding the treatment of Chinese workers by the CPRR on May 10, 1869, et seq[edit]

Irrespective that the source of this deleted quotation is a published book, Helen Zia's Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People (or any awards for which it may have been nominated), that does not make it de facto encyclopedic if (as they are) the claims made therein by author Zia regarding the treatment of Chinese workers by the CPRR on May 10, 1869, et seq, are demonstrably false and do not comport with the historic records and primary sources. The deleted quotation, which appears on page 27 of the book, is neither footnoted nor otherwise sourced (in fact the book appears to have no footnotes or chapter notes at all), and instead only appears to represent a very strong personal POV of the author. (Reviews of the book describe the work both as "polemical" (The New York Times Review of Books, March 5, 2000, P. 20) as well as being a "novelization of history".)

I have written two books on this subject of the Pacific Railroad myself and have been researching this topic for more than a dozen years. There was certainly much anti-Chinese sentiment in the American West in the 19th through the mid 20th centuries, but claims that the CPRR's "Chinese workers were barred from celebrations", that "speeches congratulated European immigrant workers for their labor but never mentioned the Chinese" and that the Chinese workers were "summarily fired and forced to walk the long distance back to San Francisco" and "forbidden to ride on the railroad they built" are clearly disproved by the contemporary documents and accounts of the events. For instance the May 15, 1869, edition of San Francisco Newsletter & California Advertiser described the final moments of the "Last Spike" celebration at Promontory Summit, UT, on May 10, 1869, thusly: "... The Chinese really laid the last tie and drove the last spike. ... (CPRR Construction Chief) J.H. Strobridge, when the work was all over, invited the Chinese who had been brought over from Victory for that purpose, to dine at his boarding car. When they entered, all the guests and officers present cheered them as the chosen representatives of the race which have greatly helped to build the road....a tribute they well deserved and which evidently gave them much pleasure." In his testimony before the Joint Special Committee of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives appointed to investigate the "character, extent, and effect of Chinese immigration in 1876, the CPRR's Charles Crocker stated: "Wherever we put them (Chinese workers) we found them good, and they worked themselves into our favor to such an extent that if we found we were in a hurry for a job of work, it was better to put Chinese on at once. Previous to that we had always put on white men; and to-day if I had a big job of work that I wanted to get through quick with, and had a limited time to do it in, I should take Chinese labor to do it with, because of its greater reliability and steadiness, and their aptitude and capacity for hard work." Centpacrr (talk) 22:21, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

The body of the article doesn't name the terminal cities connected on May 10, 1869[edit]

For me, the article fails to define its very topic.

For most of the body of the article, we are told merely that on May 10, 1869, with the driving of the golden spike, the railroad was "completed", that it "opened for through traffic", and other such vague wording. We aren't told, up front, what it was that opened. Namely, we aren't told what the western and eastern termini of the CPRR and UPRR's line were on that day.

In parallel, we are told that it was completed initially to Sacramento, later to Oakland. But no dates are named for those events, so the statement is a non sequitur. So on May 10, 1869, did the railroad run from Sacramento to Omama/Council Bluffs, or from Oakland to Omaha/Council Bluffs?

In fact, the question is answered, but not until the end of the article, under Aftermath:

When the golden spike was driven, the rail network was not yet connected to the Atlantic or Pacific, but merely connected Omaha and Sacramento. In November 1869 the Central Pacific finally connected Sacramento to San Francisco Bay at Oakland, California.

That is excellently worded. It's just that placement of this passage at the end of the article requires the reader to infer what entity was completed on May 10, 1869, camouflages it by calling it an 'Aftermath', and may be missed by most readers.

Hence, at the top of the article, name the terminal cities as of May 10, 1869. And it wouldn't be a bad idea to name--again, at the beginning--the shortcomings of the route and when they were eliminated, namely, the dates it reached the Pacific Ocean, and crossed the Missouri River.

--Jim Luedke Jimlue (talk) 00:57, 1 October 2011 (UTC)

The bridge at Council Bluffs and Omaha opened when?[edit]

1. In 1873, the Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge opened ... Huh?

2. While you're at it, you want to correct a few typos? Search for the likes of "SJ&H", "furthered strengthened", "each others railroads", "The construction and operation of the line was", etc.

--Jim Luedke Jimlue (talk) 02:50, 1 October 2011 (UTC)

"Emigrants" leave and "immigrants" arrive[edit]

Correct & established usage of the term "Emigrants" in the First Transcontinental Railroad article[edit]

With regard to the usage of the term "emigrants" vs "immigrants" in the First Transcontinental Railroad article the historically correct term is "emigrants" as you can see in any of the following examples, writings, and/or references: [20], [21], [22], [23], [24], [25], [26], [27], [28], [29], [30], [31], [32], [33], [34]. This is the term that has always been used in this article. Please do not change it again. Centpacrr (talk) 00:00, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

No. This is a misreading of original sources. Read the reliable secondary sources--they use "immigrant." Reason: when a person emigrates from Europe he becomes an immigrant in the US. So while in Europe (or land of origin) we use "emigrant" and when they get to the new place they are "immigrants." the railroads made guide books for prospective emigrants still living in the old country. Rjensen (talk) 01:09, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

NOTE: Rjensen, when moving this debate from your personal talk page to an article talk page, the appropriate thing to do is to move all of it instead of leaving out an existing portion such as my reply below which you deleted in the transfer:

Thank you for your comment but I'm afraid I must disagree as it applies to the Pacific Railroad. This really has little if anything to do with literature the railroads may have published for persons still overseas, but more with internal emigration of persons already in North America living East of the Mississippi in order to populate the West and the Pacific coast region. (With the CPRR this also applied to the Celestials, the emigrant construction workers brought from China many of whom returned there after the railroad was completed.) In addition to the links above please also see the many primary and secondary sources contained in my 10,000+ page, fourteen year old website, "The Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum, and two of my books on the subject, "Riding the Transcontinental Rails: Overland Travel on the Pacific Railroad 1865-1881" and "The Classic Western American Railroad Routes". Centpacrr (talk) 06:47, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
With the exception of Express and Palace Car service, trains running on the Pacific Railroad were called "Emigrant Trains", the books for people taking the trains told them "Where to Emigrate, and Why", railroad tickets for these trains were for "Emigrant Passage" sold under "Emigrant Fare Schedules" with access to them by foreign born emigrants regulated by the "Commissioners of Emigration" for travel by Emigrant Sleeping Cars. Centpacrr (talk) 20:55, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

Section 2.4 Construction[edit]

I would edit this but there are too many problems for me to fix at the moment. It's Wikipedia policy, no?, that articles be written in the third person. This section is written in the second person and contains incorrect word usage, etc. Poorly written, quite frankly. Someone please fix this. 216.137.192.89 (talk) 21:14, 31 March 2013 (UTC)

Transcontinental?[edit]

I have often wondered how a railroad which has never been East of Chicago has always been called "transcontinental". Long a traditional title, but never accurate. Oh well, bailing against the tide, I guess. Sammy D III (talk) 20:25, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

It was not about the railroad companies but about a single person's ability to travel by rail from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast of North America. This person would have had to change trains and especially railroads in Chicago. Note that the first actual transcontinental railroad was completed in Panama 14 years earlier, on January 27, 1855, with a train going from the Atlantic to the Pacific on the following day. Binksternet (talk) 21:06, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
The Panama Railroad was never considered or claimed to be at the time a "Transcontinental Railroad" by its builders, the press, or the public, but was instead styled as what it really was (and still is) -- an "Inter Oceanic" railroad. (See for instance "A Great Enterprise" from The Portland (Maine) Transcript [Newspaper], February 17, 1855; "Panama Railroad Completed" from The Western Journal and Civilian, Vol. XIII, No. 6. M. Carver & T. Cobb, Editors and proprietors, St. Louis, Missouri, May, 1855; or Fessenden Nott Otis' seminal book on the line, "lllustrated History of the Panama Railroad", New York:Harper & Brothers 1861, which begins "In ancient or in modern times there has, perhaps, been no one work which in a few brief years has accomplished so much, and which promises for the future so great benefit to the commercial interests of the world, as the present rail-way thoroughfare between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at the Isthmus of Panama. A glance at its geographical position can not fail to discover to the most casual observer that, situated as it is midway between the northern and southern, and alike between the eastern and western hemispheres, it forms a natural culminating point for the great commercial travel of the globe. Wise men in every enlightened nation had seen this for centuries, and had urged the importance of free inter-oceanic communication at this point.").
The Panama Railroad only crossed a 55-mile wide isthmus that connects two continential land masses (North America and South America), but not in any sense does it cross a stand alone "continent" itself. The remaining 99% of the 5,000-mile trip from the east coast to the west coast of the United States via this route was accomplished by steamship over water whereas the entire coast-to-coast trip via the First Transcontinental Railroad was by exactly that -- a railroad. Centpacrr (talk) 22:10, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
I don't know how to deal with this edit conflict, here it comes again: I just wandered by, dropped sort of a rhetorical question. I didn't realize anybody was working next door until my watchlist grew a foot (huh? talk connects article?).
I don't buy Panama, it's an isthmus, and is referred to in the article.
The name "transcontinental" is not accurate, never has been. I'm from Chicagoland, I get the RR deal. (Hey PRRfan, too). The article refers to other names, but I couldn't find where "transcontinental" came from. My guess would be some UP PR guy, any idea? Should it be mentioned, maybe (or not) in the lead?Sammy D III (talk) 22:35, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
The "First Transcontinental Railroad" does not refer to any single railroad or railroad company as until the advent of AMTRAK there was no single railroad in the United States that operated trains coast-to-coast. Instead the term refers to the first time that there was a contiguous system of multiple interconnecting rail lines in operation that made it possible to travel across a continent exclusively by rail for the first time. That first happened with the completion of the Pacific Railroad built between 1863 and 1869 by the Western Pacific, Central Pacific, and Union Pacific Railroad Companies that joined the rail networks already in existence East of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers thus completing the "First Transcontinental Railroad" that made it possible to make a continuous rail journey between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the North American continent for the first time. While you may personally not agree that this what it should be called as this has been the commonly accepted term used to describe the Pacific Railroad as well as the complete system virtually since it opened that is the correct term to use for this article. Centpacrr (talk) 23:48, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

My first post: “has always been called "transcontinental". Long a traditional title” My second post: “The article refers to other names, but I couldn't find where "transcontinental" came from. My guess would be some UP PR guy, any idea? Should it be mentioned” Nowhere have I suggested changing the name of either the route or the article.Sammy D III (talk) 00:47, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

I do not know when the term was first used, but doing a very quick search I have found it in print as early as 1869 in Albert D. Richardson's very popular book ''Beyond the Mississippi" (second edition), in a page one story in the New York Times on October 11, 1869 reporting on the proceedings of the "Transcontinental Railroad Convention" held in Oswego, NY on October 8-9, and in an article from the San Francisco Bulletin (Newspaper) in 1870 entitled "The Railways of California" reprinted in the December, 1870, issue of "Appletons' Railway and Steam Navigation Guide." Centpacrr (talk) 02:47, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
I don't mean to waste your time, it's not that important, a word game. Oswego is impressive, and I suppose there were so many parallel lines East that you can't really choose just one. Still, the term does imply the West only, so does the article. And building the Western part was sort of the wonder of the time. I still suspect there was a UP PR guy somewhere. Anyway, enjoy the evening.Sammy D III (talk) 03:37, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

Structure[edit]

This needs a lot better structuring. The history section(s) keeps jumping forward and back in time; the route sections contain all the construction history etc. Also, there are plenty of redundancies to delete. --Cancun771 (talk) 09:10, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

The Lone Ranger (2013)[edit]

Also mentioned in the movie: The Lone Ranger (2013) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 37.44.164.5 (talk) 08:42, 30 December 2013 (UTC)