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The Pacific Railroad, known as the First Transcontinental Railroad, was built in the United States in 1869. By linking the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, it revolutionized the population and economic growth of the American West.
Beginning in the early 1870s, railroad construction in the United States increased dramatically. Before 1871 about 45000 miles of track had be constructed. By the end of the 19th century another 170,000 miles of track had been added to Americans railroad system. By 1900, four additional transcontinental railroads connected the eastern states with the Pacific Coast.
Driven by the Pacific Railroad Acts of 1862 and 1864 during the Civil War and supported by U.S. government bonds and land grants, building of the rail was considered one of the greatest American technological feats of the 19th century.
Among the most famous of American entrepreneurs was Cornelius Vanderbilt, who built his wealth in shipping and railroads. He acquired the Long Island Railroad followed by the New York and Harlem Railroad and the Hudson River Railroad. In 1867 he also acquired the Central Railroad and merged it with the other railroads he already owned. All of Vanderbilt's acquisitions merged into what became known as the New York Central Railroad.
Much has been wrtten about the transcontinental railroad and specifically the explosion of the railroad system in the late 19th century. People were facinated about the progress and promise that the new transportation system presented and it was a subject of many journal articles.