Between 1828 and 1869, America achieved the goal of spanning the continent with a railroad. To accomplish this, the federal government awarded public lands to private railroad companies so that the railroads in turn could sell the land to finance construction, benefiting both the private and public sectors. Here, about 15 workers for the Union Pacific employ an Otis Excavator and work train with locomotive no. 143 to complete the track through the difficult site at Hanging Rock in Echo Canyon, Utah. The train seems to have dump cars that were recently filled with rocks and soil excavated by the shovel. The image indicates that a temporary track had been laid at higher grade on the right to push the railroad west for its 1869 opening. Now, the excavator was employed to relocate the tracks and ease the grade. UP had four excavators, all patented by Wm. S. Otis in 1838. Inclusion of about 15 men in the picture honors work and new technology as much as the picture honors railroading. It is a portrait of accomplishment, technology, and, above all, America's use of railroads to accomplish the nation's social, political, and economic goals of westward expansion. Railroads relatively quickly linked America's west and east coasts, providing transportation for freight and passengers and rapid communication of public and personal news.
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