I split this off from the "Why "the South" did not get a railroad to the Pacific" thread since it seemed like it deserved its' own topic.Sirs, I've always been fascinated with the use of Land Grants. Recruiters were sent to Europe with literature and sales pitches of the wealth and bounty of the cheap available land and promises of each landholder a king. Some of these grants are still held by the descendant railroad corporations. The 'domestication' of these land grant plots not only increased the economic input to the 'grantee' rail lines but also increased the value of the surrounding and near-by acreage. The mid-country and northern routes at least provided some hope to prospective homesteaders as farm land, (up to the eastern side of the Rockies).
At the time, I do not think there was much in the early 1850s. While there were certainly people willing and wishing to travel to California, places like Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona were regarded as part of the "Great American Desert" -- more a place to get through than a place to live.What possible incentive could the rail companies provide to attract potential settlers to any southern route through west Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and extreme southern California?
Other than California, there was the Pike's Peak Gold Rush (started in 1858) and the Comstock Lode in Nevada (also 1858). Without a RR or reasonable access to the sea, Colorado had a major transport problem and suffered badly in the late 1860s. It was only when they built a RR up to Cheyenne to connect to the TRR that the situation reversed in the 1870s (then collapsed again in the 1880s-1890s).The hydrocarbon bonanza was as yet unknown. Mining likewise. Irrigation infrastructure for current crops, (like cotton!), was a long way off. Ranching?
There were lots of cattle in Texas, but it wasn't until the early 1840s-1850s that real long-distance cattle drives up to Kansas-Missouri really started (these were very controversial with settlers and in 1859 Kansas actually passed a protective law against the drives. There were cattle driven to New Orleans from Texas.
The California Gold Rush created a big demand for beef in that state. There actually were some cattle drives along the California Trail from Texas in the late 1850s as a result. If a RR connection to California was available, some cattle might have moved by RR instead.
Most development in that area (western Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona), however, needed a RR in place to be worthwhile. In 1850, there is no RR track in Texas at all. In 1860, there is still less than 500 miles of it, mostly around Houston, IIRR. Texas is pounding the table for more protection from Mexican Banditos, Comancheros, and Commanches/Apachees/Kiowas/etc. Pushing a RR West to places like San Antonio and El Paso would have been helpful to development but would have required a lot of assistance from East of the Mississippi.
Yes. They became an asset that could be used to secure loans -- and the asset would appreciate in value when the land was developed (which would also lead to increased traffic on the RR).Land Grants immediate worth were not only to sell to homesteaders but for loans and increased shareholder value.
I have no real way of estimating that. I suppose that it was quicker to get a value from closer locations. In 1851, Texas began laying track for their first RR -- which was only the 2nd RR with track West of the Mississippi River. By 1856 you have a RR bridge across the Mississippi River at Rock Island, Illinois. Kansas and Nebraska had much better access to the eastern US in the mid-1850s than New Mexico could have had until the proposed TRR reached it sometime after 1860 (and probably more like 1870). It was a matter of geography and logistics that would delay things probably 10-15 years on the fiscal side.At the time frame we are reviewing, how much fiscal benefit would have been derived from land grants across New Mexico as opposed to say Nebraska or Minnesota?