Subsidy to construct the transcontinental railroad

An exhibit at the Huntington Library called Visions of Empire: The Quest for a Railroad Across America, 1840-1880 had a comment describing payments from the government to railroad companies to assist in constructing the transcontinental railroad:

  • $16,000 per mile on easy grades
  • $32,000 per mile for the high plains
  • $48,000 per mile in the mountains

Lots of money at the time, but a bargain considering how much it helped the economy develop.

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