President Lincoln and the Transcontinental Railroad

This month, in honor of Black History Month and Presidents Day, we’ve been learning about new ways to teach children of all ages about African American and Presidential history through railroad history with the help of model railroading and Lionel Trains.  Today we’ll take a look at the transcontinental railroad.

Certainly Lincoln’s greatest contribution to railroad history was his authorization of the construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad in 1862.  The construction of a rail line to connect the bustling metropolises of the Northeast to vast resources of California and the Pacific was an important goal of the President and was completed four years after his death by assassination.  Many view the transcontinental railroad as the greatest technological feat of the 19thCentury.  It created a much faster land-route to the Pacific than the wagon trails and a much safer route overall than the sea journey around the Tierra del Fuego at the southern extremes of South-+ America.

Railroads are still part of the political debate today.  Consider funding for Amtrak – does America need a federally supported rail system?  Challenge your kids to examine both sides of the issue and debate.  If he/she were President, would they propose a larger rail system or a smaller network?  Why?

  1. The Transcontinental Railroad


Lionel Trains


Photo courtesy of Lionel L.L.C. All rights reserved

1 Comment

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