Monday, April 30, 2007



How did the connection of the transcontinental railroad impact agriculture and how much did the import and export go up by the use of this? I am the State FFA President of Nevada and I have to do a reflections piece on this subject and I can't find any literature on it so I was hoping you could help me.

—Jake Baker, Fallon, Nevada


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Wendell Huffman"

The completion of the transcontinental railroad did – over time – have an impact on agriculture. But you have a real challenge if you are going to pin a direct cause-and-effect to statistics.

The impact was that the railroad opened new markets. Grapes, lettuce, and oranges from California, cantaloupes from Fallon, and beer from Boca could be sold in New York. But, this required more than just the railroad. Farmers had to be willing to invest in these crops, wholesalers had to be willing to risk their investment shipping these things farther than they had been shipped before, salesmen had to be willing to try to sell this unfamiliar stuff in new markets, and inventors had to perfect means to transport these (and other) products. The change didn't happen over night.


4/30/2007 9:42 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


You may want to look at economic historian Robert Fogel's book Union Pacific, a case in Premature Enterprise (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1960). Fogel asks a number of questions, one of which, "was Congress justified in assisting the railroad," he answers by evaluating the increase in land prices along the line. These were mostly potential agricultural lands at the time. You may want to look at his chapter 4.

Most of the other information will be anecdotal, such as the increase in stock ranches in Nevada as a result (see Cattle in a Cold Desert by James Young and Abbott Sparks)


Bob Spude – Historian – Cultural Resources Management – National Park Service – Intermountain Region – 505.988.6770 Voice – 505.988.6876 Fax

The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.

4/30/2007 9:51 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


A major impact on Nevada was to raise the quality of life in Nevada via the importation of foodstuffs from the farming regions of California and Utah. Also cattle and sheep from California ranches where shipped to Nevada for winter grazing then shipped to California and Nevada markets.

Less directly the population growth in Nevada due to increase mining led to local markets for foodstuffs (for people, horses, mules and oxen) grown in water rich areas adjacent to the mining centers which thus led to commercial rather than subsistence farming in those regions.

—Charlie Siebenthal

4/30/2007 11:11 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


That helped me a great deal. Thank you so much for your help. I appreciate it. Have a good day. Thanks again.


4/30/2007 7:32 PM  

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