Railroads and Settlement

Union Pacific Railroad Chartered 1862 1 of 4

Union Pacific Land Poster
Poster: Union Pacific Lands in Nebraska — 3,000,000 acres.
Courtesy Union Pacific Museum Collection, 501961

Imagine yourself as a farmer living in Europe in the mid-19th century. You own little or no land, have a large debt, and your taxes are due to the government. Then one day a friend comes to your door carrying a brochure printed by the "Union Pacific Railroad." The brochure says that the Union Pacific owns millions of acres in a place called Nebraska. The railroad will sell you land for a very cheap price, and you can take up to ten years to pay for it. Not only is the land cheap and reasonable, but the climate is mild and there are no heavy taxes. Wouldn’t you be a fool not to move?

The building of the railroad across the Great Plains meant more settlers and more competition with the Native Americans for the land. The transcontinental railroads wanted rights-of-way through tribal lands and needed white settlers to make their operations profitable.

Mag Me! Select the magnifying glass for an extreme close-up
of the original map.
Railroad Lines in 1874
Derived from the "New Commercial and Topographical Rail Road Map & Guide of Nebraska" 1874.
Follow the development of railroads in Nebraska. Look particularly at the map from 1886.
Courtesy Library of Congress American Memory Railroad Maps, g4191p rr002480

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