Profile Showing the Grades upon the Different Routes Surveyed for the Union Pacific Rail Road Between the Missouri River and the Valley of the Platte River


President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railroad Act into law on July 1, 1862. The act gave two companies, the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad, responsibility for completing the transcontinental railroad. The Union Pacific was to lay track westward from a point near Omaha, Nebraska, toward Ogden, Utah; the Central Pacific was to build eastward from Sacramento, California. Under the authorizing legislation, the railroad was not to have grades or curves exceeding the maximums on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the first U.S. railroad to cross the Appalachians. This profile shows the careful attention paid by the engineers to the steepness of the grades on alternative routes considered for the line. The horizontal scale shown is one mile to one inch (1.61 kilometers to 2.54 centimeters), and the vertical scale is 60 feet to one inch (18.28 meters to 2.54 centimeters). The profile accompanied a topographic map showing five different routes between the Missouri River and the Platte Valley in Nebraska, which was part of a report submitted to Secretary of Interior James Harlan by Lieutenant Colonel J.H. Simpson of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Last updated: May 24, 2017