1860 'Potential' official Transcontinental Railroad Eastern Southern Terminus

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USS ALASKA

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Reading through the threads on the influence of the TCRR on antebellum events, decided to do some research...

The first actual 'Transcontinental Railroad' had it's eastern end in Omaha, Nebraska/Council Bluffs, Iowa. Connecting into the existing RR network, the next bottleneck was the Mississippi River. Potential logical Mississippi River crossings that had existing eastern connections were Memphis, St. Louis, and Davenport, Iowa into Chicago.

From there, any major Eastern Seaboard deep-water port can be reached. From the north...

Boston
NYC
Philly
Baltimore
Norfolk
Charleston
Savannah

...and Gulf port of NOLA.

Using the maps from Black's 'Railroads of the Confederacy' as posted at @DaveBrt 's website of https://www.csa-railroads.com/, Charleston could link up with Memphis using the 'South Carolina' to Augusta, then the 'Georgia' to Atlanta, the 'Western & Atlantic' to Chattanooga, the 'East Tennessee & Georgia' & 'Memphis & Charleston' to Memphis.

Savannah linked with Chattanooga via either the 'Augusta & Savannah' or the 'Augusta & Savannah', 'Central Railroad (of Georgia)' and 'Macon & Western'.

Norfolk could be linked via the 'Seaboard & Roanoke', 'Norfolk & Petersburg', 'South Side', 'Virginia & Tennessee', 'East Tennessee & Virginia' and 'East Tennessee & Georgia'.

As to which would be the best option, one question I have and don't know the answer to is which over these ports has the easiest access and is the cheapest to maintain? Do any of these ports have 'depth' issues that need constant maintenance? Do any of them have restrictive 'entrance' concerns like sand bars, tidal variations, or limited channel widths?

To my unknowledgeable eye, Norfolk might be the best 'compromise' selection. In the 'South' but close to the 'North', direct access to D.C. and Baltimore, large naval base for defense concerns...

...but politically based decisions, (and this would be one), are rarely based upon logic...

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 

DaveBrt

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Reading through the threads on the influence of the TCRR on antebellum events, decided to do some research...

The first actual 'Transcontinental Railroad' had it's eastern end in Omaha, Nebraska/Council Bluffs, Iowa. Connecting into the existing RR network, the next bottleneck was the Mississippi River. Potential logical Mississippi River crossings that had existing eastern connections were Memphis, St. Louis, and Davenport, Iowa into Chicago.

From there, any major Eastern Seaboard deep-water port can be reached. From the north...

Boston
NYC
Philly
Baltimore
Norfolk
Charleston
Savannah

...and Gulf port of NOLA.

Using the maps from Black's 'Railroads of the Confederacy' as posted at @DaveBrt 's website of https://www.csa-railroads.com/, Charleston could link up with Memphis using the 'South Carolina' to Augusta, then the 'Georgia' to Atlanta, the 'Western & Atlantic' to Chattanooga, the 'East Tennessee & Georgia' & 'Memphis & Charleston' to Memphis.

Savannah linked with Chattanooga via either the 'Augusta & Savannah' or the 'Augusta & Savannah', 'Central Railroad (of Georgia)' and 'Macon & Western'.

Norfolk could be linked via the 'Seaboard & Roanoke', 'Norfolk & Petersburg', 'South Side', 'Virginia & Tennessee', 'East Tennessee & Virginia' and 'East Tennessee & Georgia'.

As to which would be the best option, one question I have and don't know the answer to is which over these ports has the easiest access and is the cheapest to maintain? Do any of these ports have 'depth' issues that need constant maintenance? Do any of them have restrictive 'entrance' concerns like sand bars, tidal variations, or limited channel widths?

To my unknowledgeable eye, Norfolk might be the best 'compromise' selection. In the 'South' but close to the 'North', direct access to D.C. and Baltimore, large naval base for defense concerns...

...but politically based decisions, (and this would be one), are rarely based upon logic...

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
The driving fact was that New York City already had the trans-Atlantic trade sowed up -- coastal ships went to NYC to transfer their cargoes to the big ships and Europe. NYC had the port, the railroads, the population, the shipping support, the financial structure, etc. No Southern city could compete, despite the many protestations that the only thing Charleston, Savannah, Norfolk, etc needed to rival NYC was a western railroad. To make the situation worse, all the ports south of Norfolk had water depth issues that kept the really big ships out.
 

wausaubob

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To me, the best option with respect to cost would have been the southern option. As long as the line connected to water sources, it would have lower passes and a longer working season.
Any route was going to have trouble with operating revenue. The Kansas to Colorado could generate some of its own revenue and stay out of receivership longer.
Political considerations dictated that Chicago to Sacramento would prevail.
St. Paul to the Columbia River would be through territory less critical to the Indians, and there could have been multiple grade units building in converging directions, at least during the summer and fall.
Most of the discussions failed to consider how fast Chicago became dominant in the railroad industry.
 
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WJC

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To me, the best option with respect to cost would have been the southern option. As long as the line connected to water sources, it would have lower passes and a longer working season.
I believe that was the opinion at the time and certainly the result of the studies. There were three proposed routes: a far northern route from Chicago to Puget Sound (the eventual routes of both the Great Northern and Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific); the 'middle' route' from Chicago to San Francisco Bay via Omaha (the eventual Union Pacific Route); the southern route from New Orleans to Southern California (eventually the route of the Southern Pacific).
The southern route lost because of the persuasiveness of Stephen Douglas and uncertainties raised by secession and war. No one wanted to build such an important link in territory where it might be threatened or come under the control of the so-called 'Confederate States'. Without the sectional crisis, the first transcontinental railroad probably would have followed the southern route.
The Southern route would probably have connected in much the same way as the eventual Southern Railway System linked New Orleans with southern cities north to Washington. Many of these southern cities would have benefited, but it seems overreach to suggest that southern ports like Charleston, Savanah, Wilmington would have had substantial benefit in the long run. Norfolk gained its position because of its superior deepwater port and connections to the coal fields of West Virginia and southern Ohio. Further north, superior ports existed in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. All of these already had links to the Midwest at the time of the rebellion.
 

USS ALASKA

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Most of the discussions failed to consider how fast Chicago became dominant in the railroad industry.
IMVHO - very neglected. While she got the name 'Second City' later, she had, as @DaveBrt posted above, "...the port, the railroads, the population, the shipping support, the financial structure...". Her water ways were the Mississippi and Great Lakes. She was the NYC west of the Appalachian Mountains.
56

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 

USS ALASKA

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I believe that was the opinion at the time and certainly the result of the studies. There were three proposed routes: a far northern route from Chicago to Puget Sound (the eventual routes of both the Great Northern and Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific);
Three systems took this route. The Northern Pacific Railway made it in 1883, the Great Northern Railway in 1893, and the 'One railroad too many', the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul (aka Milwaukee Road) in 1909. Brutally difficult conditions crossing the mountains. Beside the freight traffic from either end, the Northern Route did provide revenue to the lines from the farms on the Plains, to include southern Canada, mining (once it began) in Montana and Idaho, and farms and forestry products west of the mountains. Lots of weather concerns...

...the 'middle' route' from Chicago to San Francisco Bay via Omaha (the eventual Union Pacific Route);
Which other systems tried to take advantage of after the original 'Pacific Railroad' (Central Pacific and Union Pacific). But these were more of a '...get across the mountains...' than a West Coast to Mississippi River. Primarily the Denver & Rio Grande and Western Pacific which became part of the Gould system. Once again, farms to the east, mining in the middle, and farms and forestry to the west added to the through freight. And as always in this time period, passenger traffic.

...the southern route from New Orleans to Southern California (eventually the route of the Southern Pacific).
The SP met the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in 1881 with it's eastern end in Kansas. In 1881, SP also linked to the Texas and Pacific Railway taking it into eastern Texas. In 1883, the SP completed its own track to link with it's subsidiary Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway connecting New Orleans to Los Angeles. Other railways linked into the SP like the 'Rock Island', 'Cotton Belt', and like the Interstate Highway system, once complete, they were all interconnected.

The first 'East coast-to-West coast', 'never-get-off-the-train' route was...

The first permanent, continuous line of railroad track from coast to coast was completed on August 15, 1870, by the Kansas Pacific Railroad near its crossing of Comanche Creek at Strasburg, Colorado. This route connected to the eastern rail network via the Hannibal Bridge across the Missouri River at Kansas City completed June 30, 1869, passed through Denver, Colorado, and north to the Union Pacific Railroad at Cheyenne, Wyoming, making it theoretically possible for the first time to board a train at Jersey City, New Jersey, travel entirely by rail, and step down at the Alameda Wharf on San Francisco Bay in Oakland. This singularity existed until March 25, 1873 when the Union Pacific constructed the Missouri River Bridge in Omaha.

Robert Fink "National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Registration Form: Comanche Crossing of the Kansas Pacific Railroad". NP Gallery National Park Service

Walter R Borneman Iron Horses: America's Race to Bring the Railroads West
60

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 
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wausaubob

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IMVHO - very neglected. While she got the name 'Second City' later, she had, as @DaveBrt posted above, "...the port, the railroads, the population, the shipping support, the financial structure...". Her water ways were the Mississippi and Great Lakes. She was the NYC west of the Appalachian Mountains.
56

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
112,000 people by 1860, and most people predicted a robust future. St. Louis never gained that type of dominance.
I suspect British money and the land grant railroad, the Illinois Central Railroad, had a synergistic effect.
 

USS ALASKA

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112,000 people by 1860, and most people predicted a robust future. St. Louis never gained that type of dominance. I suspect British money and the land grant railroad, the Illinois Central Railroad, had a synergistic effect.
along with the Great Lakes traffic...but interestingly, (to me at least), on the Mississippi and in the Midwest, less population than that of New Orleans, Cincinnati, St. Louis...but the largest city on the Great Lakes (Buffalo about 31,000 behind...)

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/civil-war-railroad-books.139935/page-8#post-1886686

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/civil-war-railroad-books.139935/page-6#post-1821920

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/civil-war-railroad-books.139935/page-6#post-1794883

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/civil-war-railroad-books.139935/page-9#post-1959908

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/the-rise-of-chicago.147399/#post-1842779
75

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 
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