What the Railroad Will Bring: The Promise and Reality of the Transcontinental Railroads
All the possibilities that arose with 19th Century American railroads seemed magnified in the transcontinentals, which came to epitomize progress, nationalism, and civilization itself. But to understand the significance of these railroads on the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Pacific Rainroad, we need to look at what they collectively achieved and what they failed toa chieve. They remade the continent, but this was not necessarily always a good thing.
Richard White is the Margaret Bryne Professor of American History at Stanford. He is the author of Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern American and, more recently, The Republic For Which It Stands: the United States During Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896, which is part of the Oxford History of the United Staes.
He has been a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a MacArthur Fellowship, and has received the Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award.