Omaha Gold - A Story of the Transcontinental Railroad

The Chinese railroad workers who helped connect the country: Recovering an erased history
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The railroad's arrival and Western settlement expansion caused great changes in the Native American communities calling this region home for thousands of years. These communities endured great upheaval, surviving in spite of harsh conditions and a changing cultural landscape. This is their story, as told by Tribal members. The Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma Pawnee Nation has a long and proud history spanning more than years. Early in the 18th century, more than 60, members of the Pawnee Tribe inhabited the area along the North Platte River in Nebraska.

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The Pawnees, classified as a "friendly tribe" by the U. Some of the Pawnee warrior battles fought to preserve lives, lands and possessions were considered legendary.

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The latter s were the time when the number of officially recorded engagements with the Indians reached a peak. The transcontinental railroad was under construction across the Plains, and the construction crews suffered harassment from Sioux and Cheyennes. The Pawnees, under the command of Major Frank North, patrolled the rail line from central Nebraska to southeastern Wyoming, skirmishing with Sioux and Cheyenne raiding parties and recovering stolen horses and mules.

The Great Race to Promontory

From one point of view, the story of the Pawnee Scouts was one of consistent success — an outstanding example of the exploitation of intertribal animosities, and of Indians themselves, for the purposes of an alien people. Major North and his military superiors had a point, for the Pawnees had every reason to wish to strike back against their enemies and to desire an alliance with the stronger power that could make retaliation possible. They had received no favors from the Sioux and had no reason to expect any.

The scouts enjoyed adventure, suffered few casualties, recovered self-esteem battered by both Sioux and "civilization," and obtained economic benefits for themselves and their people. These things were meaningful to them in ways their would-be civilizers could not imagine. After encroachment by settlers, the Pawnees ceded their territory to the U.

The school, affectionately known as "Gravy U," was closed in and the land was returned to the Pawnee Nation in Many of the former Industrial School buildings now serve as Tribal offices and as a home for the Pawnee Nation College. The area is on the National Register as a Historic District. Today, the number of Tribal enrolled members is over 3,, and Pawnees can be found in all areas of the United States as well as foreign countries within many walks of life. Pawnees take much pride in their ancestral heritage. They are noted in history for a tribal religion rich in myth, symbolism and elaborate rites.

The Pawnee Nation supports many other activities including honor dances, Native American church meetings, hand games and sporting events. In , a group of 35 people — mainly German immigrants — left Davenport, Iowa, to settle an area in central Nebraska. French fur traders had identified a location they named "La Grande Island" on the Platte River and by July the settlers had arrived and soon were building log houses made from ash, elm and cottonwood timber. Union Pacific arrived in July of and laid out an entirely new town slightly inland from the island.

The railroad marked the new town as the end of the first division point on the fledgling railroad. From there, it built the first depot, and soon followed with a combination depot and hotel. Union Pacific and the new transcontinental route contributed significantly to the growth of Grand Island. By , Union Pacific had established machine shops and a roundhouse in Grand Island and provided the town with water piped in from wells it had dug along the tracks near the river.

The Transcontinental Railroad Explained: US History Review

On June 4, , Grand Island was struck by a massive tornado. Union Pacific came to the town's aid, sending more than employees and 50 pieces of heavy equipment to help in the clean up. The railroad also provided bunk cars, dining cars and supplies to offer comfort to the survivors.

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Omaha Gold uses historical fiction for a retelling of the story of America's first transcontinental railroad and its less-celebrated dark backstory. The enduring. Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Lawson McDowell is a veteran of Union Pacific Railroad, currently headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska where he serves a s.

The original town of Wood River, named for the tree-lined river north of the area, was platted around a station established by Union Pacific in Before that, the stage stop was known as "White Cloud," and it contained a tiny log-house that operated as the area's first post office. Between and , thousands of emigrants, gold seekers and Mormons moved west through the Platte Valley. Johnson — operated road ranches to serve travelers. Jackson opened a store in Wood River in After the rails were laid in , a depot and boarding house, called "Wood River Station," was built near Moore's road ranch.

Once the tracks were completed, migration took off. Trainloads of people, Civil War veterans and second-generation colonists from the eastern states, arrived to take up homesteads. By , the area was known as western Hall County, and was busy, often compared to a three-ring circus. Thirty or so buildings, including the station, post office and Jackson's store, were put on skids and pulled down the railroad track by teams of horses to the new location.

In , Union Pacific platted this new location and the present town of Wood River was established. The Gibbon Switch — a rail siding — was built in as part of Union Pacific's construction. The switch was given its name in honor of General John Gibbon, a U.

Army officer who had fought in the Civil War. Five years later in , the town of Gibbon was established. Just prior to that, the area was inhabited by the friendly Pawnee tribe.

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They were removed and placed on reservations by the U. The newly created town saw settlers arrive on a Union Pacific emigrant train. In , the St. Joseph and Denver Railway constructed the Gibbon Cut-off. Seven years later it would come under ownership of Union Pacific.

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This cut-off, which eventually provided direct access to Kansas City, was officially known as the Hastings Branch. One of the most notable facts about Kearney is its location precisely halfway between the east and west coasts of the United States — 1, miles from both Boston and San Francisco.

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If so, the fate may well have been the same as the newspaper company, when, in , the San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fire destroyed the News Letter building. This month-May, Source: Utah History To Go Historians agree that the driving of the golden spike marking the completion of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah, on 10 May was one of the most important events in United States history, as it was also in Utah history. Those benefits were undeniable. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. The building of the Transcontinental Railroad is an iconic American tale about physical mobility and technical prowess, but it is also a story about labor, migration, American conquest, and empire. Russell stereoview No.

It's not surprising that it eventually became a junction point for Union Pacific, Missouri Pacific and the Burlington Northern railroads. According to a history of the city, the word "Kearney" comes from Fort Kearny, named after Colonel Stephen Watts Kearny, who joined the Army during the War of and died in One possible reason why there is an extra "e" in the name of the town is simple spelling error made by the post office.

By the time it was discovered, no correction was made and the town was incorporated as "Kearney" with the extra "e" in Earlier, in , Fort Kearny was established and offered protection to scores of pioneers traveling west on the Oregon Trail. For Union Pacific construction crews in , Kearney represented a milestone for the first section of road from Omaha.

The original Union Pacific station was located at Buda, east of present day Kearney. With the railroad coming through, settlement began a few years later in when the Rev. Collins entered a homestead claim.

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They lived in a dwelling called "the Junction House," which contained the first post office. The area began to grow quickly thereafter, and by , the year it was incorporated, Kearney had residents and more than 20 buildings. The town now known as Lexington began as a frontier trading post in In , it was established as Plum Creek, named after the creek on the south side of its border. The first settlers in Plum Creek were Daniel Freeman and his family. They established a bakery and a trading post right across from a little stage station. Union Pacific came through in September , but a year later, tragedy struck.

A section crew was attacked by a group of Cheyenne warriors. The three men on the handcar scattered and hid but not before one of them — William Thompson — was scalped. He managed to retrieve his scalp and make it back to Plum Creek. Eventually he found his way to Omaha where he tried to have the scalp reattached.

Golden Spike event celebrates the Transcontinental Railroad’s 150th anniversary

That attempt failed, and he donated the tanned scalp to the Omaha Public Library. The train was looted and the Pawnee Scouts were dispatched to search for the Cheyenne.

mailicalgipan.ml Days later, the Cheyenne attacked the search party, but were repelled. During the melee, two Cheyenne prisoners were taken — a young boy and a woman. Later the next year, in , during negotiations for a treaty with the Brule Sioux in North Platte, Chief Turkey Leg sent a delegation to offer the release of six white settlers in return for the Cheyenne woman and boy who had been captured.

It turned out that the boy was his nephew. The exchange occurred with all captives being returned unharmed. In , Plum Creek was incorporated as a village and in was purportedly renamed Lexington, in honor of the Battle of Lexington, the beginning of the Revolutionary War. It's hard to over-emphasize the significance of Cozad, Nebraska, in the story of Union Pacific's march westward.