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The Rise of American Industry, 1850-1900
Guide: Age of Railroads

These resources provide insight into the challenges and opportunities that came with the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. Use these resources to begin your students' inquiry into the building of the railroad. Use the Export to My Lists button above to turn this into a research list for your students.

Time Period Key Understandings

  • Opportunities have been extended to certain groups of Americans while denied to other groups.
  • Social and economic changes due to technological advancement can have positive and negative effects.
  • Wealth can be used to influence people and politics in positive and negative ways.
  • Immigrants' decisions to leave their homeland are based on push and pull factors.
  • Organizations and people can advocate for and obtain social change.

Key Questions

  • Explain the controversial practices of both the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific when building the railroad. What justifications did railroad owners have for these practices? How and why did bankers step in to resolve the situation?
  • What ethnic groups participated in the construction of the railroad? Describe what life was like for those who worked on the railroad.
  • How were Chinese railroad workers discriminated against? Why were railroad officials unable to find African Americans to replace the Chinese laborers? Why do you think railroad officials were successful in ending Chinese resistance?


  1. Overview: Age of Railroads
  2. Visuals: Age of Railroads (Visual)
  3. Outlines: Outline
  4. Transcripts: Transcript
  5. Lesson: Introduction
  6. Lesson: 1-Transcontinental Railroad
  7. Lesson: 2-Building the Transcontinental Railroad
  8. Lesson: 3-Farmers and the Railroad
  9. Lesson: 4-Giants of the Railroad
  10. Lesson: Closing
  11. Glossary Terms: Panic of 1873
  12. Photos & Illustrations: Chinese laborers building the transcontinental railroad
  13. Photos & Illustrations: Railroad (post-1860)
  14. Photos & Illustrations: Railroad, construction of
  15. Photos & Illustrations: Railroad (pre-1860)
  16. Reference Articles: golden spike ceremony
  17. Reference Articles: Great Railroad Strike of 1877
  18. Reference Articles: Transcontinental Railroad
  19. Reference Articles: Union Pacific Railroad
  20. Political Cartoons, Posters & Document Images: Political cartoon: Crédit Mobilier scandal
  21. Political Cartoons, Posters & Document Images: Railroad advertisement
  22. Political, Government & Court Documents: Chinese Exclusion Act (1882)
  23. Political, Government & Court Documents: Interstate Commerce Act (1887)
  24. Maps: Transcontinental Railroads, 1900

MLA Citation

"Age of Railroads." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Content/2153114?cid=256. Accessed 15 Oct. 2019.

Entry ID: 2153114

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