Written by Martin W. Sandler
There was a lot more to building the transcontinental railroad than can be packed into those four words. Certainly a lot more than you’re taught in history class.
Sandler did extensive research for this great new book and includes many sidebars with details of various aspects of the project and biographies of important players, as well as numerous photographs and maps from the Library of Congress and other archives.
The brain child of Asa Whitney, distant relative of Eli Whitney, the plan began in earnest in 1845. After several proposals to Congress, the Central Pacific, starting from the west, and the Union Pacific, starting from the east, finally won the approval to lay rails from Omaha to Sacramento. It wasn’t until 1869 that the last spike was driven at Promontory Summit. Facing labor shortages, company corruption, extremes of weather, shortage of funds, just plain difficult terrain, and other hardships, the construction itself took more than six years.
The real value to sixth graders is as reference material, but Sandler does a great job of relating the true impact on the workers – Irish, Chinese, Mormon, and other – and on the indigenous residents of the American West. The story is compelling, well-told, and riveting.
- Title: Iron Rails, Iron Men, and the Race to Link the Nation: The Story of the Transcontinental Railroad
- Author: Martin W. Sandler
- Published: Candlewick, 2015
- Reviewer: Sue Poduska
- Format: Hardcover, 224 pages
- Grade Level: 5 Up
- Genre: History, Biography
- ISBN: 978-0-7636-6527-2
- Extras: Table of Contents, Timeline, Source Notes, Bibliography, Photography Credits, and Index