Transcontinental Railroad Vocabulary

Transcontinental Railroad Vocabulary
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A locomotive is parked on tracks. Behind it is the desert and a faint mountain range.

The Transcontinental Railroad

Lesson Plans by Liane Hicks

The first Transcontinental Railroad in the United States was a feat of ingenuity and engineering. It was the result of visionaries and dreamers as well as shrewd businessmen and hardworking laborers. It opened up the way for new cities, new industries, and new opportunities for immigrants and settlers. However, it also led to the decimation of Native American nations and the environment as well as a racist backlash against immigrants.


Transcontinental Railroad

Storyboard Description

Create a spider map illustrating key vocabulary terms relating to the first Transcontinental Railroad in the United States!

Storyboard Text

  • IRONMEN
  • It is backbreaking work but I can slowly save for my family to join me and have a better life.
  • SPIKES, RAILS, TIES
  •   RAIL
  •   TIE
  •   SPIKE
  • TELEGRAPH
  • Western Union Telegram
  • Ironmen was the nickname for men who worked to lay the rails onto the ties. Workers on the railroads came from all different backgrounds: primarily Chinese immigrants, Irish immigrants, newly freed African Americans, and Civil War veterans.
  • SPIKE: a large nail for securing the rails to the ties.RAIL: an iron bar forming a train track.TIE: the wooden supports to which rails are fastened.
  • The telegraph is an instrument that uses electrical coded signals communicate over large distances. It was invented by Samuel Morse in the 1840s and the code is called Morse Code. On October 24, 1861, the first transcontinental telegraph system was completed by Western Union, making it possible to transmit messages from coast to coast.
  • 
  • LOCOMOTIVE / IRON HORSE
  • Transcontinental Railroad Vocabulary
  • HOGGER
  • SURVEYOR
  • 
  • An engine that pulls or pushes railway cars powered by either steam, electricity, or diesel fuel is called a locomotive. Native Americans nicknamed the new locomotives traversing their land "Iron Horses".
  • An engineer or a driver of a train was also called a hogger, hoggie, or a hoghead.
  • A surveyor is a person who determines the boundaries of a route by measuring angles and distances with special instruments. Surveyors were very important in determining where and how to build the railroads through various terrain.
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