Globe Skills Lesson 7
The Transcontinental Railroad
- Grade 6+

Skills used Latitude & Longitude
Tracing routes on a map
Using legends
Using scale to measure distance
Using directions
Critical thinking
Solving problems
Vocabulary transcontinental railroad
Materials Needed Globe in Horizon Ring Mounting

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.)
(5.) ____________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________

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.) _________________________________


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