Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America

W. W. Norton & Company
3
Free sample

A Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize: "A powerful book, crowded with telling details and shrewd observations."  —Michael Kazin, New York Times Book Review

This original, deeply researched history shows the transcontinentals to be pivotal actors in the making of modern America. But the triumphal myths of the golden spike, robber barons larger than life, and an innovative capitalism all die here. Instead we have a new vision of the Gilded Age, often darkly funny, that shows history to be rooted in failure as well as success.

Read more
Collapse

About the author

Richard White is the Margaret Byrne Professor Emeritus of American History at Stanford University. He is the author of many acclaimed books in American western and environmental history, including Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Parkman Prize, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Read more
Collapse
3.3
3 total
Loading...

Additional Information

Publisher
W. W. Norton & Company
Read more
Collapse
Published on
May 31, 2011
Read more
Collapse
Pages
660
Read more
Collapse
ISBN
9780393082609
Read more
Collapse
Features
Read more
Collapse
Read more
Collapse
Language
English
Read more
Collapse
Genres
Business & Economics / Industries / Transportation
History / United States / 19th Century
History / United States / State & Local / West (AK, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, UT, WY)
Transportation / Railroads / History
Read more
Collapse
Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
Read more
Collapse
Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
Read more
Collapse

Reading information

Smartphones and Tablets

Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.

Laptops and Computers

You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.

eReaders and other devices

To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.
America was made by the railroads. The opening of the Baltimore & Ohio line––the first American railroad––in the 1830s sparked a national revolution in the way that people lived thanks to the speed and convenience of train travel. Promoted by visionaries and built through heroic effort, the American railroad network was bigger in every sense than Europe’s, and facilitated everything from long-distance travel to commuting and transporting goods to waging war. It united far-flung parts of the country, boosted economic development, and was the catalyst for America’s rise to world-power status.

Every American town, great or small, aspired to be connected to a railroad and by the turn of the century, almost every American lived within easy access of a station. By the early 1900s, the United States was covered in a latticework of more than 200,000 miles of railroad track and a series of magisterial termini, all built and controlled by the biggest corporations in the land. The railroads dominated the American landscape for more than a hundred years but by the middle of the twentieth century, the automobile, the truck, and the airplane had eclipsed the railroads and the nation started to forget them.  

In The Great Railroad Revolution, renowned railroad expert Christian Wolmar tells the extraordinary story of the rise and the fall of the greatest of all American endeavors, and argues that the time has come for America to reclaim and celebrate its often-overlooked rail heritage.
 

The Industrial Revolution rode into Texas on the railroads. The entire state witnessed the political and economic climate change as the tracks were laid, creating urban centers and even a new governmental body, the Texas Railroad Commission. At the same time, Galveston was a city on a mission to become the primary seaport for the Great West. Together, the corporate strategy of the railroads and the city's own desire for greatness paved the way for Galveston's growth and transformation into a focal point of Texas railroad ventures.

In Tracks to the Sea: Galveston and Western Rail Development, 1866–1900, Earle B. Young traces the efforts of "railroad generals" Jay Gould and Collis Huntington to control Texas' railroad ventures, as well as the struggles of the new railroads built during this era, such as the Houston and Great Northern, the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe, and the Houston and Texas Central. Young also examines the men behind the rails, and the goals and rivalries which shaped the routes and profits of Texas railroads, especially Galveston's George Sealy in his battle with New York's Gould for the route to the thriving seaport and Gould's competition with Huntington over who would dominate the southwestern lines.

By the end of the nineteenth century, these railroad builders had brought Galveston to a position of national prominence as a transportation center. In combination with the

ships calling at Galveston's new deep water harbor, the railroads provided connections for all of the western states with markets around the world.

Young, using resources from the Rosenberg Library's Galveston History Center, the Kansas Historical Society, and the Library of Congress, devotes chapters to the bankruptcy and revival of Sealy's Galveston's Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway.

Tracks to the Sea is ideal for anyone interested in the history of Texas and Galveston, as well as the dreams, deals, and feuds that shaped the railroad industry of the 1800s.

A centerpiece of the New History of the American West, this book embodies the theme that, as succeeding groups have occupied the American West and shaped the land, they have done so without regard for present inhabitants. Like the cowboy herding the dogies, they have cared little about the cost their activities imposed on others; what has mattered is the immediate benefit they have derived from their transformation of the land.

Drawing on a recent flowering of scholarship on the western environment, western gender relations, minority history, and urban and labor history, as well as on more traditional western sources, It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own is about the creation of the region rather than the vanishing of the frontier.

Richard White tells how the various parts of the West—its distinct environments, its metropolitan areas and vast hinterlands, the various ethnic and racial groups and classes—are held together by a series of historical relationships that are developed over time. Widespread aridity and a common geographical location between the Missouri River and the Pacific Ocean would have provided but weak regional ties if other stronger relationships had not been created.

A common dependence on the deferral government and common roots in a largely extractive and service-based economy were formative influences on western states and territories. A dual labor system based on race and the existence of minority groups with distinctive legal status have helped further define the region. Patterns of political participation and political organization have proved enduring. Together, these relationships among people, and between people and place, have made the West a historical creation and a distinctive region.

From Europeans contact and subsequent Anglo-American conquest, through the civil-rights movement, the energy crisis, and the current reconstructing of the national and world economies, the West has remained a distinctive section in a much larger nation. In the American imagination the West still embodies possibilities inherent in the vastness and beauty of the place itself. But, Richard White explains, the possibilities many imagined for themselves have yielded to the possibilities seized by others. Many who thought themselves cowboys have in the end turned out to be dogies.

In this account of an unprecedented feat of engineering, vision, and courage, Stephen E. Ambrose offers a historical successor to his universally acclaimed Undaunted Courage, which recounted the explorations of the West by Lewis and Clark.
Nothing Like It in the World is the story of the men who built the transcontinental railroad -- the investors who risked their businesses and money; the enlightened politicians who understood its importance; the engineers and surveyors who risked, and lost, their lives; and the Irish and Chinese immigrants, the defeated Confederate soldiers, and the other laborers who did the backbreaking and dangerous work on the tracks.
The Union had won the Civil War and slavery had been abolished, but Abraham Lincoln, who was an early and constant champion of railroads, would not live to see the great achievement. In Ambrose's hands, this enterprise, with its huge expenditure of brainpower, muscle, and sweat, comes to life.
The U.S. government pitted two companies -- the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads -- against each other in a race for funding, encouraging speed over caution. Locomo-tives, rails, and spikes were shipped from the East through Panama or around South America to the West or lugged across the country to the Plains. This was the last great building project to be done mostly by hand: excavating dirt, cutting through ridges, filling gorges, blasting tunnels through mountains.
At its peak, the workforce -- primarily Chinese on the Central Pacific, Irish on the Union Pacific -- approached the size of Civil War armies, with as many as fifteen thousand workers on each line. The Union Pacific was led by Thomas "Doc" Durant, Oakes Ames, and Oliver Ames, with Grenville Dodge -- America's greatest railroad builder -- as chief engineer. The Central Pacific was led by California's "Big Four": Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins. The surveyors, the men who picked the route, were latter-day Lewis and Clark types who led the way through the wilderness, living off buffalo, deer, elk, and antelope.
In building a railroad, there is only one decisive spot -- the end of the track. Nothing like this great work had been seen in the world when the last spike, a golden one, was driven in at Promontory Summit, Utah, in 1869, as the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific tracks were joined.
Ambrose writes with power and eloquence about the brave men -- the famous and the unheralded, ordinary men doing the extraordinary -- who accomplished the spectacular feat that made the continent into a nation.
©2019 GoogleSite Terms of ServicePrivacyDevelopersArtistsAbout Google|Location: United StatesLanguage: English (United States)
By purchasing this item, you are transacting with Google Payments and agreeing to the Google Payments Terms of Service and Privacy Notice.