On your globe, circle the location where the Platte River joins the
Missouri River. This location is at 41N/96W and is near the city of
Omaha, Nebraska. This was one of the starting points for the last leg of
a transcontinental railroad. When this segment of the
transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, trains could
travel all the way from Omaha to the Pacific Ocean at San Francisco,
California. Circle San Francisco at 38N/122W.
Next, draw the following route on your globe. Starting at Omaha, go
west along the Platte River to the northeastern corner of the state of
Colorado (abbreviated CO). From that location, extend your line westward
across southern Wyoming (WY) to a point at the northern tip of the Great
Salt Lake. This location, near the northern end of the Great Salt Lake,
was the site of Promontory Point, Utah. From Promontory Point, complete
your line to San Francisco.
Use the globe's mounting ring scale to measure an approximate
distance for this route. How far is it?
(1.) ________________________________________ This is the approximate
distance along the railroad between Omaha and San Francisco. Would the
actual distance of the railroad have been more or less than this figure?
(2.) __________ Why? (3.) ______________________
The actual number of miles that trains traveled along this track was
1,775 miles. If it took passengers four days to travel this distance
during the early years of the railroad, how many miles of travel did the
passengers average per day? (4.) ___________________ How long would it
take a modern jet airliner to travel from Omaha to San Francisco? (Use
the great circle distance and the airliner speed shown on the globe's
mounting ring to help determine the answer.)
In places where land elevations vary greatly in a short distance the
land is usually very steep, with high cliffs, deep ravines, and rocky
terrain. This makes laying railroad tracks very difficult and dangerous.
Carefully study the route that you drew on your globe. Where on this
route do you think the workers might have faced the most difficulty and
danger? (6.) _________________
What is another problem that the workers and the trains might have faced
while crossing the mountains in winter? (7.)