Iron Horse
by Emma

Annie Oakley

Billy the Kid

Buffalo Bill

Buffalo Hunting

Building the Railroads

Chief Joseph

Crazy Horse

Frontier Town

Frontier Womanís Day

Gold Rush

Homestead Act


Iron Horse

John Deere

Law & Order

Levi Strauss

Log Cabins

Lumberjacks 1

Lumberjacks 2

Mountain Men

Oregon Trail


Pony Express

Sitting Bull


Texas Cattle Drive

The Mormon Trail

Trail of Tears

Wagon Trains

Wounded Knee Massacre



In the 1860s, railroads were built across North America. The railroad became very popular all across America. The Native Americans hated the railroad and they called it "the iron horse" because in the very beginning of the railroad the train cars were pulled on the tracks by horses. Later, when the steam locomotives were invented people were transported by the train as they had been by regular horses. The government knew that railroads would attract more settlers to the West. Soon, two companies started laying new tracks-one started in the East and the other started in the West. When they met, they would join to create the first railroad right across North America.

The Hard Work

Building a railroad across the Rockies was very difficult. Thousands of men had to blast away rock to make the track as level as possible. They had to deal with fierce heat and winter snow and bitter cold. They made cuttings and built huge bridges. There were also many raids by Native Americans, who hated the arrival of "the iron horse" in their land that they held sacred.

The Two Rival Railroads Meet

In 1869, the two rival railroads that were running across America met in the state of Utah. The names of the companies were the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific. The rival companies raced each other over the final stretch. The Union Pacific started building tracks west from Omaha, Nebraska. The Central Pacific began building tracks east from Sacramento, California. They were each laying up to 10 miles (16km) of line (thatís what they called the tracks) a day. Telegraph wires ran alongside the train tracks. The telegraph lines sent back news of each dayís total to each company.

Much Faster Transportation

Train travel was faster and more comfortable than going by stagecoach. However, there were still dangers traveling by railroad. For example, trains could get stuck in snowdrifts, or be rocked by winds howling across the Plains. Outlaws sometimes would easily halt a train by taking out rails or blocking the track with logs. When the train stopped, the outlaws climbed on board and robbed the passengers or freight cars loaded with supplies.

The Railroad and the Iron Horse Affected Everyone in North America

The settlers of the West loved the train because they could get to their new lands quicker and more easily. The Native Americans hated the trains for the same reasons, and because when the tracks were laid the mountains and prairies were ruined. When the day came to join the two rival sets of tracks, everyone gathered in Utah. It was an exciting day for the companies and the settlers and they had a big ceremony. One of the bosses from one of the companies was asked to hammer the final, gold, spike. He tried, and missed! Everyone watched him. It had to be done again. Everything changed out west after the two sets of tracks became one and when "the iron horse" linked the Atlantic to the Pacific.


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