The United States of America known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U. S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D. C. and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico; the State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean; the U. S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The diverse geography and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century; the United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies following the French and Indian War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775, the subsequent Declaration of Independence in 1776; the war ended in 1783 with the United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a European power. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties; the United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, displacing Native American tribes, admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848. During the second half of the 19th century, the Civil War led to the abolition of slavery.
By the end of the century, the United States had extended into the Pacific Ocean, its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial Revolution, began to soar. The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power; the United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Sweeping civil rights legislation, notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, outlawed discrimination based on race or color. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the Space Race, culminating with the 1969 U. S. Moon landing; the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower. The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation, it is a representative democracy.
The United States is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States, other international organizations. The United States is a developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP and second-largest economy by PPP, accounting for a quarter of global GDP; the U. S. economy is post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge-based activities, although the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world. The United States is the world's largest importer and the second largest exporter of goods, by value. Although its population is only 4.3% of the world total, the U. S. holds 31% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share of global wealth concentrated in a single country. Despite wide income and wealth disparities, the United States continues to rank high in measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage, human development, per capita GDP, worker productivity.
The United States is the foremost military power in the world, making up a third of global military spending, is a leading political and scientific force internationally. In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere America in honor of the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci; the first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq. to George Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental Army, Lt. Col. Joseph Reed. Moylan expressed his wish to go "with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain" to seek assistance in the revolutionary war effort; the first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1776. The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed by June 17, 1776, at the latest, declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the'United States of America'".
The final version of the Articles sent to the states for ratification in late 1777 contains the sentence "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be'The United States of America'". In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence; this draft of the document did not surface unti
The Rocky Mountains known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than 4,800 kilometers from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico in the Southwestern United States. Located within the North American Cordillera, the Rockies are somewhat distinct from the Pacific Coast Ranges, Cascade Range, the Sierra Nevada, which all lie farther to the west; the Rocky Mountains formed 80 million to 55 million years ago during the Laramide orogeny, in which a number of plates began sliding underneath the North American plate. The angle of subduction was shallow, resulting in a broad belt of mountains running down western North America. Since further tectonic activity and erosion by glaciers have sculpted the Rockies into dramatic peaks and valleys. At the end of the last ice age, humans began inhabiting the mountain range. After Europeans, such as Sir Alexander Mackenzie, Americans, such as the Lewis and Clark expedition, began exploring the range and furs drove the initial economic exploitation of the mountains, although the range itself never experienced dense population.
Public parks and forest lands protect much of the mountain range, they are popular tourist destinations for hiking, mountaineering, hunting, mountain biking and snowboarding. The name of the mountains is a translation of an Amerindian name, related to Algonquian; the first mention of their present name by a European was in the journal of Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre in 1752, where they were called "Montagnes de Roche". The Rocky Mountains are defined as stretching from the Liard River in British Columbia south to the Rio Grande in New Mexico; the Rockies vary in width from 110 to 480 kilometres. The Rocky Mountains are notable for containing the highest peaks in central North America; the range's highest peak is Mount Elbert located in Colorado at 4,401 metres above sea level. Mount Robson in British Columbia, at 3,954 metres, is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies; the eastern edge of the Rockies rises above the Interior Plains of central North America, including the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico and Colorado, the Front Range of Colorado, the Wind River Range and Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming, the Absaroka-Beartooth ranges and Rocky Mountain Front of Montana and the Clark Range of Alberta.
The western edge of the Rockies includes ranges such as the Wasatch near Salt Lake City and the Bitterroots along the Idaho-Montana border. The Great Basin and Columbia River Plateau separate these subranges from distinct ranges further to the west. In Canada, the western edge of the Rockies is formed by the huge Rocky Mountain Trench, which runs the length of British Columbia from its beginnings in the middle Flathead River valley in western Montana to the south bank of the Liard River. Geographers define three main groups of the Canadian Rockies: the Continental Ranges, Hart Ranges, Muskwa Ranges; the Rockies do not extend into central British Columbia. Other mountain ranges continue beyond the Liard River, including the Selwyn Mountains in Yukon, the Brooks Range in Alaska, but those are not part of the Rockies, though they are part of the American Cordillera; the Continental Divide of the Americas is located in the Rocky Mountains and designates the line at which waters flow either to the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.
Triple Divide Peak in Glacier National Park is so named because water falling on the mountain reaches not only the Atlantic and Pacific but Hudson Bay as well. Farther north in Alberta, the Athabasca and other rivers feed the basin of the Mackenzie River, which has its outlet on the Beaufort Sea of the Arctic Ocean. Human population is not dense in the Rocky Mountains, with an average of four people per square kilometer and few cities with over 50,000 people. However, the human population grew in the Rocky Mountain states between 1950 and 1990; the forty-year statewide increases in population range from 35% in Montana to about 150% in Utah and Colorado. The populations of several mountain towns and communities have doubled in the last forty years. Jackson, increased 260%, from 1,244 to 4,472 residents, in forty years; the rocks in the Rocky Mountains were formed. The oldest rock is Precambrian metamorphic rock. There is Precambrian sedimentary argillite, dating back to 1.7 billion years ago. During the Paleozoic, western North America lay underneath a shallow sea, which deposited many kilometers of limestone and dolomite.
In the southern Rocky Mountains, near present-day Colorado, these ancestral rocks were disturbed by mountain building 300 Ma, during the Pennsylvanian. This mountain-building produced the Ancestral Rocky Mountains, they consisted of Precambrian metamorphic rock forced upward through layers of the limestone laid down in the shallow sea. The mountains eroded throughout the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic, leaving extensive deposits of sedimentary rock. Terranes began colliding with the western edge of North America in the Mississippian, causing the Antler orogeny. For 270 million years, the focus of the effects of plate collisions were near the edge of the North American plate boundary, far to the west of the Rocky Mountain region, it was. The current Rocky Mountains arose in the Laramide orogeny from between 55 Ma. For the Canadi
Gouverneur K. Warren
Gouverneur Kemble Warren was a civil engineer and Union Army general during the American Civil War. He is best remembered for arranging the last-minute defense of Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg and is referred to as the "Hero of Little Round Top." His subsequent service as a corps commander and his remaining military career were ruined during the Battle of Five Forks, when he was relieved of command of the V Corps by Philip Sheridan, who claimed that Warren had moved too slowly. Warren was born in Cold Spring, Putnam County, New York, named for Gouverneur Kemble, a prominent local Congressman, diplomat and owner of the West Point Foundry, his sister, Emily Warren Roebling, would play a significant role in the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. He entered the United States Military Academy at age 16 and graduated second in his class of 44 cadets in 1850, he was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant in the Corps of Topographical Engineers. In the antebellum years he worked on the Mississippi River, on transcontinental railroad surveys, mapped the trans-Mississippi West.
He served as the engineer on William S. Harney's Battle of Ash Hollow in the Nebraska Territory in 1855, where he saw his first combat, he took part in studies of possible transcontinental railroad routes, creating the first comprehensive map of the United States west of the Mississippi in 1857. This required extensive explorations of the vast Nebraska Territory, including Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, part of Montana, part of Wyoming. One region he surveyed was the Minnesota River Valley, a valley much larger than what would be expected from the low-flow Minnesota River. In some places the valley is 250 feet deep. Warren first explained the hydrology of the region in 1868, attributing the gorge to a massive river, which drained Lake Agassiz between 11,700 and 9,400 years ago; the great river was named Glacial River Warren in his honor after his death. At the start of the war, Warren was a first lieutenant and mathematics instructor at the United States Military Academy at West Point, across the Hudson River from his hometown.
He helped raise a local regiment for service in the Union Army and was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 5th New York Infantry on May 14, 1861. Warren and his regiment saw their first combat at the Battle of Big Bethel in Virginia on June 10, arguably the first major land engagement of the war, he was promoted to colonel and regimental commander on September 10. In the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, Warren commanded his regiment at the Siege of Yorktown and assisted the chief topographical engineer of the Army of the Potomac, Brig. Gen. Andrew A. Humphreys, by leading reconnaissance missions and drawing detailed maps of appropriate routes for the army in its advance up the Virginia Peninsula, he commanded a small brigade during the Seven Days Battles consisting of his own 5th New York along with the 10th New York. At Gaines Mill, he remained on the field, he continued to lead the brigade at the Second Battle of Bull Run, suffering heavy casualties in a heroic stand against an overwhelming enemy assault, at Antietam, where the V Corps was in reserve and saw no combat.
Warren was promoted to brigadier general on September 26, 1862, he and his brigade went to the Battle of Fredericksburg in December, but again were held in reserve and saw no action. When Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker reorganized the Army of the Potomac in February 1863, he named Warren his chief topographical engineer and chief engineer; as chief engineer, Warren was commended for his service in the Battle of Chancellorsville. At the start of the Gettysburg Campaign, as Confederate General Robert E. Lee began his invasion of Pennsylvania, Warren advised Hooker on the routes the Army should take in pursuit. On the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 2, 1863, Warren initiated the defense of Little Round Top, recognizing the importance of the undefended position on the left flank of the Union Army, directing, on his own initiative, the brigade of Col. Strong Vincent to occupy it just. Warren suffered a minor neck wound during the Confederate assault. Promoted to major general after Gettysburg, Warren commanded the II Corps from August 1863 until March 1864, replacing the wounded Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock, distinguishing himself at the Battle of Bristoe Station.
On March 13, 1865, he was brevetted to major general in the regular army for his actions at Bristoe Station. During the Mine Run Campaign, Warren's corps was ordered to attack Lee's army, but he perceived that a trap had been laid and refused the order from army commander Maj. Gen. George G. Meade. Although angry at Warren, Meade acknowledged that he had been right. Upon Hancock's return from medical leave, the spring 1864 reorganization of the Army of the Potomac, Warren assumed command of the V Corps and led it through the Overland Campaign, the Siege of Petersburg, the Appomattox Campaign. During these Virginia campaigns, Warren established a reputation of bringing his engineering traits of deliberation and caution to the role of infantry corps commander, he won the Battle of Globe Tavern, August 18 to August 20, 1864, cutting the Weldon Railroad, a vital supply route north to Petersburg. He won a limited success in the Battle of Peebles' Farm in September 1864, carrying a part of the Confederate lines protecting supplies moving to Petersburg on the Boydton Plank Road.
The aggressive Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan, a key subordinate of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, was dissatisfied with Warren's performance, he was angry at Warren's corps for obstructing roads after the
The Great Plains is the broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie and grassland, that lies west of the Mississippi River tallgrass prairie in the United States and east of the Rocky Mountains in the U. S. and Canada. It embraces: The entirety of the U. S. states of Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota Parts of the states of Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Wyoming The southern portions of the Canadian provinces of Alberta and SaskatchewanThe region is known for supporting extensive cattle ranching and dry farming. The Canadian portion of the Plains is known as the Prairies, it covers much of Alberta and southern Saskatchewan, a narrow band of southern Manitoba. Despite covering a small geographic area, the Prairies are home to the majority of each of the three provinces' respective populations; the term "Great Plains" is used in the United States to describe a sub-section of the more vast Interior Plains physiographic division, which covers much of the interior of North America.
It has currency as a region of human geography, referring to the Plains Indians or the Plains States. In Canada the term is little used. There is no region referred to as the "Great Plains" in The Atlas of Canada. In terms of human geography, the term prairie is more used in Canada, the region is known as the Prairie Provinces or "the Prairies." The North American Environmental Atlas, produced by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a NAFTA agency composed of the geographical agencies of the Mexican and Canadian governments, uses the "Great Plains" as an ecoregion synonymous with predominant prairies and grasslands rather than as physiographic region defined by topography. The Great Plains ecoregion includes five sub-regions: Temperate Prairies, West-Central Semi-Arid Prairies, South-Central Semi-Arid Prairies, Texas Louisiana Coastal Plains, Tamaulipas-Texas Semi-Arid Plain, which overlap or expand upon other Great Plains designations; the region is about 500 mi east to 2,000 mi north to south.
Much of the region was home to American bison herds until they were hunted to near extinction during the mid/late-19th century. It has an area of 500,000 sq mi. Current thinking regarding the geographic boundaries of the Great Plains is shown by this map at the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln; the term "Great Plains", for the region west of about the 96th and east of the Rocky Mountains, was not used before the early 20th century. Nevin Fenneman's 1916 study Physiographic Subdivision of the United States brought the term Great Plains into more widespread usage. Before that the region was invariably called the High Plains, in contrast to the lower Prairie Plains of the Midwestern states. Today the term "High Plains" is used for a subregion of the Great Plains; the Great Plains are the westernmost portion of the vast North American Interior Plains, which extend east to the Appalachian Plateau. The United States Geological Survey divides the Great Plains in the United States into ten physiographic subdivisions: Coteau du Missouri or Missouri Plateau, glaciated – east central South Dakota and eastern North Dakota and northeastern Montana.
The Great Plains consist of a broad stretch of country underlain by nearly horizontal strata extends westward from the 97th meridian west to the base of the Rocky Mountains, a distance of from 300 to 500 miles. It extends northward from the Mexican boundary far into Canada. Although the altitude of the plains increases from 600 or 1,200 ft on the east to 4,000–5,000 or 6,000 feet near the mountains, the local relief is small; the semi-arid climate opens far-reaching views. The plains are by no means a simple unit, they are of various stages of erosional development. They are interrupted by buttes and escarpments, they are broken by valleys. Yet on the whole, a broadly extended surface of moderate relief so prevails that the name, Great Plains, for the region as a whole is well-deserved; the western boundary of the plains is well-defined by the abrupt ascent of the mountains. The eastern boundary of the plains is more climatic than topographic; the line of 20 in. of annual rainfall trends a little east of northward near the 97th meridian.
If a boundary must be drawn where nature presents only a gradual transition, this rainfall line may be taken to divide the drier plains from the moister prairies. The plains may be described in northern, intermediate and southern sections, in relation to certain peculiar features; the northern section of the Great Plains, north of latitude 44°, including eastern Montana, north-eastern Wyomi
Pacific Fur Company
The Pacific Fur Company was an American fur trade venture wholly owned and funded by John Jacob Astor that functioned from 1810 to 1813. It was based in the Pacific Northwest, an area contested over the decades between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the Spanish Empire, the United States of America and the Russian Empire. Management and fur trappers were sent both by land and by sea to the Pacific Coast in the Autumn of 1810; the base of operations was constructed at the mouth of the Columbia River in Fort Astoria. The destruction of the company vessel the Tonquin that year off the shore of Vancouver Island took with it the majority of the annual trading goods. Commercial competition with the British-Canadian North West Company began soon after the foundation of Fort Astoria; the Canadian competitors maintained several stations in the interior Spokane House, Kootanae House and Saleesh House. Fort Okanogan was opened in 1811, the first of several PFC posts created to counter these locations.
The Overland Expedition faced military hostilities from several Indigenous cultures and had an acute provision crisis leading to starvation. Despite losing men crossing the Great Plains and at the Snake River, they arrived in groups throughout January and February 1812 at Fort Astoria. A beneficial agreement with the Russian-American Company was planned through the regular supply of provisions for posts in Russian America; this was planned in part to prevent the rival Montreal based North West Company to gain a presence along the Pacific Coast, a prospect neither Russian colonial authorities nor Astor favored. The lack of military protection during the War of 1812 forced the sale of PFC assets to the NWC. While the transactions were not finalized until 1814, due to the distance from Fort Astoria to Montreal and New York City, the company was functionally defunct by 1813. A party of Astorians returning overland to St. Louis in 1813 made the important discovery of the South Pass through the Rocky Mountains.
This geographic feature would be used by hundreds of thousands of settlers traveling over the Oregon and Mormon routes, collectively called the Westward Expansion Trails. The emporium envisioned by Astor was a failure for a number of reasons, including the loss of two supply ships, the material difficulties of crossing the North American continent and competition from the North West Company. Historian Arthur S. Morton concluded that "The misfortunes which befell the Pacific Fur Company were great, but such as might be expected at the initiation of an enterprise in a distant land whose difficulties and whose problems lay beyond the experience of the traders." John Jacob Astor was founder of the American Fur Company. To create a chain of trading stations spread across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Northwest, he incorporated an AFC subsidiary, the Pacific Fur Company; the commercial venture was designed to last for twenty years. Unlike its major competitor the Canadian owned NWC, the Pacific Fur Company was not a Joint-stock company.
Capital for the PFC amounted to $200,000 divided into 100 shares individually valued at $2,000 and was funded by Astor. The American Fur Company held half of the stock and the other half divided among prospective management and clerks; the chief representative of Astor in the daily operations was Wilson Price Hunt, a St. Louis businessman with no outback experience who received five shares; each working partner was assigned four shares with the remaining shares held in reserve for hired clerks. Fellow partners in the venture were recruited from the NWC, the members being Alexander McKay, David Stuart, Duncan McDougall, Donald Mackenzie. Astor and the partners met in New York on 23 June 1810 to sign the Pacific Fur Company's provisional agreement. To establish the fledgling PFC trade posts in the distant Oregon Country, Astor's plan called for an extensive movement of large groups of employees overland following the route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and navally by sailing around Cape Horn.
The venture was planned on methods used in the AFC for the collection of fur pelts. Complements of employees would operate in various parts of the region to complete trapping excursions. Outposts maintained by the PFC would be freighted necessary foodstuffs and supplies by annual cargo ships from New York City. Trade goods for the Pacific Northwest Indigenous such as beads and blankets would be exchanged for fur pelts. Ongoing supply issues faced by the Russian-American Company were seen as a means to gain more furs. Cargo ships en route from the Columbia were planned to sail north for Russian America to bring much needed provisions. By cooperating with Russian colonial authorities to strengthen their material presence in Russian America, it was hoped by Astor to stop the NWC or any other British presence to be established upon the Pacific Coast. A tentative agreement for merchant vessels owned by Astor to ship furs gathered in Russian America into the Qing Empire was signed in 1812. Company ships were directed to sail to the port of Guangzhou, where furs were sold for impressive profits.
Chinese products like porcelain and tea were to be purchased. The PFC required a sizable number of laborers, fur trappers and in particular Voyageurs to staff company locations. Recruiting for the company's two expeditions were led by Wilson Hunt and Donald Mackenzie for the overland party and Alexander McKay for the naval bound group. All three men were based out of Montreal throughout May to July 1810. Hunt was designated to lead the Overland Exp
In geomorphology, a butte is an isolated hill with steep vertical sides and a small flat top. The word "butte" comes from a French word meaning "small hill"; because of their distinctive shapes, buttes are landmarks in plains and mountainous areas. In differentiating mesas and buttes, geographers use the rule of thumb that a mesa has a top, wider than its height, while a butte has a top, narrower than its height; the Mitten Buttes of Monument Valley in Arizona are two of the most distinctive and recognized buttes. Monument Valley and the Mittens provided backgrounds in scenes from many western-themed films, including seven movies directed by John Ford; the Devils Tower in northeastern Wyoming is a laccolithic butte composed of igneous rock rather than sandstone, limestone or other sedimentary rocks. Three other notable formations that are either named butte or may be considered buttes though they do not conform to the formal geographer's rule are Scotts Bluff in Nebraska, a collection of five bluffs, Crested Butte, a 12,168 ft mountain in Colorado, Elephant Butte, now an island in Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico.
Among the well-known non-flat-topped buttes in the United States are Bear Butte, South Dakota, Black Butte and the Sutter Buttes in California. In many cases, buttes have been given other names that do not use the word butte, for example, Courthouse Rock, Nebraska; some large hills that are technically not buttes have names using the word butte, examples of which are Kamiak Butte and Chelan Butte in Washington state. Buttes form by weathering and erosion when hard caprock overlies a layer of less resistant rock, worn away; the harder rock on top of the butte resists erosion. The caprock provides protection for the less resistant rock below from wind abrasion which leaves it standing isolated; as the top is further eroded by abrasion and weathering, the excess material that falls off adds to the scree or talus slope around the base. On a much smaller scale, the same process forms hoodoos. Media related to Buttes at Wikimedia Commons The dictionary definition of butte at Wiktionary "Butte". Collier's New Encyclopedia.
1921. "Butte". New International Encyclopedia. 1905
First Transcontinental Railroad
The First Transcontinental Railroad was a 1,912-mile continuous railroad line constructed between 1863 and 1869 that connected the existing eastern U. S. rail network at Omaha, Nebraska/Council Bluffs, Iowa with the Pacific coast at the Oakland Long Wharf on San Francisco Bay. The rail line was built by three private companies over public lands provided by extensive US land grants. Construction was financed by both state and US government subsidy bonds as well as by company issued mortgage bonds; the Western Pacific Railroad Company built 132 mi of track from Oakland/Alameda to Sacramento, California. The Central Pacific Railroad Company of California constructed 690 mi eastward from Sacramento to Promontory Summit, Utah Territory; the Union Pacific built 1,085 mi from the road's eastern terminus at Council Bluffs near Omaha, Nebraska westward to Promontory Summit. The railroad opened for through traffic on May 10, 1869 when CPRR President Leland Stanford ceremonially drove the gold "Last Spike" with a silver hammer at Promontory Summit.
The coast-to-coast railroad connection revolutionized the settlement and economy of the American West. It brought the western states and territories into alignment with the northern Union states and made transporting passengers and goods coast-to-coast quicker and less expensive. Paddle steamers linked Sacramento to the cities and their harbor facilities in the San Francisco Bay until 1869, when the CPRR completed and opened the Western Pacific grade to Alameda and Oakland; the first transcontinental rail passengers arrived at the Pacific Railroad's original western terminus at the Alameda Mole on September 6, 1869 where they transferred to the steamer Alameda for transport across the Bay to San Francisco. The road's rail terminus was moved two months to the Oakland Long Wharf about a mile to the north. Service between San Francisco and Oakland Pier continued to be provided by ferry; the CPRR purchased 53 miles of UPRR-built grade from Promontory Summit to Ogden, Utah Territory, which became the interchange point between trains of the two roads.
The transcontinental line was popularly known as the Overland Route after the principal passenger rail service that operated over the length of the line until 1962. Building a railroad line that connected the United States coast-to-coast was advocated in 1832 when Dr. Hartwell Carver published an article in the New York Courier & Enquirer advocating building a transcontinental railroad from Lake Michigan to Oregon. In 1847 he submitted to the U. S. Congress a "Proposal for a Charter to Build a Railroad from Lake Michigan to the Pacific Ocean", seeking a congressional charter to support his idea. Congress agreed to support the idea. Under the direction of the Department of War, the Pacific Railroad Surveys were conducted from 1853 through 1855; these included an extensive series of expeditions of the American West seeking possible routes. A report on the explorations described alternative routes and included an immense amount of information about the American West, covering at least 400,000 sq mi.
It included the region's natural history and illustrations of reptiles, amphibians and mammals. The report failed however to include detailed topographic maps of potential routes needed to estimate the feasibility and select the best route; the survey was detailed enough to determine that the best southern route lay south of the Gila River boundary with Mexico in vacant desert, through the future territories of Arizona and New Mexico. This in part motivated the United States to complete the Gadsden Purchase. In 1856 the Select Committee on the Pacific Railroad and Telegraph of the US House of Representatives published a report recommending support for a proposed Pacific railroad bill: The necessity that now exists for constructing lines of railroad and telegraphic communication between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of this continent is no longer a question for argument. In order to maintain our present position on the Pacific, we must have some more speedy and direct means of intercourse than is at present afforded by the route through the possessions of a foreign power.
The U. S. Congress was divided on where the eastern terminus of the railroad should be—in a southern or northern city. Three routes were considered: A northern route along the Missouri River through present-day northern Montana to Oregon Territory; this was considered impractical due to extensive winter snows. A central route following the Platte River in Nebraska through to the South Pass in Wyoming, following most of the Oregon Trail. Snow on this route remained a concern. A southern route across Texas, New Mexico Territory, the Sonora desert, connecting to Los Angeles, California. Surveyors found during an 1848 survey that the best route lay south of the border between the United States and Mexico; this was resolved by the Gadsden Purchase in 1853. Once the central route was chosen, it was obvious that the western terminus should be Sacramento, but there was considerable difference of opinion about the eastern terminus. Three locations along 250 miles of Missouri River were considered: St. Joseph, accessed via the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad.
Kansas City, Kansas / Leavenworth, Kansas accessed via the Leavenworth and Western Railroad, controlled by Thomas Ewing Jr. and by John C. Fremont. Council Bluffs, Iowa / Omaha, accessed via an extension of Union Pacific financier Thomas C. Durant's proposed Mississippi and