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Railroad Fever: Building the…

Railroad Fever: Building the Transcontinental Railroad 1830-1870…

by Monica Halpern

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201515,329 (3.75)None



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Like other books in National Geographic's "Crossroads America" series; "Railroad Fever" does an excellent job describing an event that changed our country. From the beginning of the book, when author Monica Halpern describes how building railroads fit into our country's industrialization schemes, to the end, when she tells about what a trip on the railroad would be like for a passenger, and all of the interesting details of laborers' lives in-between, the book is riveting. It appears that Halpern geared her book towards the upper elementary grade or middle school reader (there is a glossary and sentences are not too lengthy), but, besides just giving the reader "the facts", she deals with very adult concepts. For example, she describes how building the transcontinental railroad forever changed the landscape of the United States (by laying thousands of miles of tracks and dynamiting through the Sierras), how Indian tribes lost their battles to hold on to their lands, how thousands of new immigrants brought changes to the west, and how even time was changed (with the invention of the "standard time" railroads needed.). The book includes "Voices of America" sidebars with quotes from famous Americans such as General Sherman and Leland Stanford. Not all students will realize who the speakers are. There are great historical photographs throughout the book. ( )
  odonnell | Aug 23, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0792267672, Hardcover)

By the 1840s, daring Americans were trickling westward to begin a new life in the great wide open. When gold was discovered in 1848, the promise of riches drew people by the thousands out to California. But the journey was slow and dangerous, since the best ways of travelling were by wagon and on foot.During the "railroad fever" of the 1830s, thousands of miles of track were laid, mostly throughout the Northeast and the South. Few had dreamt of extending this new travel westward-but all it takes is a few. Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railroad Act in 1862, allowing for the start of the first transcontinental railroad.Though construction problems and hard times confronted them, American workers, Chinese immigrants, and former slaves pounded away through the rough geography of the western U.S., paving a path for the new train.A day in the life of a railroad worker was not an easy one. The work was backbreaking; the conditions were terrible; and workers were often faced with attack from Native Americans. The building of the railroad turned into a great race between two companies, the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific, to see who could finish their part of the railroad faster. The company that got farthest stood to make the most money. The "great race" turned into a national pastime-with reports of progress dominating the news.Railroad Fever illuminates the struggles of the railroad worker, the anger of the Plains Indians, and the many changes in both American life and geography that were prompted by the railroad. The completion of the transcontinental railroad left empty boomtowns across the country, changed the ethnic face of America, and, of course, created a new exciting and fast way of travel.Like the other titles in the Crossroads America series, Railroad Fever is illustrated with period paintings, drawings, and photographs. Also included are a glossary and an index.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 03 Jan 2016 01:00:39 -0500)

Presents a history of the building of the transcontinental railroad and its effects on American life.

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