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First Transcontinental Railroad
East west shaking hands by russell.jpgGrenville M. Dodge wearing a major general's uniform

The major investor in the Union Pacific was Thomas Clark Durant,[99] who had made his stake money by smuggling Confederate cotton with the aid of Grenville M. Dodge. Durant chose routes that would favor places where he held land, and he announced connections to other lines at times that suited his share dealings. He paid an associate to submit the construction bid to another company he controlled, Crédit Mobilier, manipulating the finances and government subsidies and making himself another fortune. Durant hired Dodge as chief engineer and Jack Casement as construction boss.[citation needed]

In the East, the progress started in Omaha, Nebraska, by the Union Pacific Railroad which initially proceeded very quickly because of the open terrain of the Great Plains. This changed, however, as the work entered Indian-held lands, as the railroad was a violation of Native American treaties with the United States. War parties began to raid the moving labor camps that followed the progress of the line. Union Pacific responded by increasing security and hiring marksmen to kill American Bison, which were both a physical threat to trains and the primary food source for many of the Plains Indians. The Native Americans then began killing laborers when they realized that the so-called "Iron Horse" threatened their existence. Security measures were further strengthened, and progress on the railroad continued.[Great Plains. This changed, however, as the work entered Indian-held lands, as the railroad was a violation of Native American treaties with the United States. War parties began to raid the moving labor camps that followed the progress of the line. Union Pacific responded by increasing security and hiring marksmen to kill American Bison, which were both a physical threat to trains and the primary food source for many of the Plains Indians. The Native Americans then began killing laborers when they realized that the so-called "Iron Horse" threatened their existence. Security measures were further strengthened, and progress on the railroad continued.[citation needed]

"Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s first postwar command (Military Division of the Mississippi) covered the territory west of the Mississippi and east of the Rocky Mountains, and his top priority was to protect the construction of the railroads. In 1867, he wrote to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, “we are not going to let thieving, ragged Indians check and stop the progress” of the railroads.[100]

"On the ground in the West, Gen. Philip Henry Sheridan, assuming Sherman’s command, took to his task much as he had done in the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War, when he ordered the “scorched earth” tactics that presaged Sherman's March to the Sea."[100]

"The devastation of the buffalo population signalled the end of the Indian Wars, and Native Americans were pushed into reservations.  In 1869, the Comanche chief Tosawi was reported to have told Sheridan, “Me Tosawi. Me good Indian,” and Sheridan allegedly replied, “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.”  The phrase was later misquoted, with Sheridan supposedly stating, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” Sheridan denied he had ever said such a thing."[100]

"By the end of the 19th century, only 300 buffalo were left in the wild. Congress finally took action, outlawing the killing of any birds or animals in Yellowstone National Park, where the only surviving buffalo herd could be protected. Conservationists established more wildlife preserves, and the species slowly rebounded. Today, there are more than 200,000 bison in North America."[100]

"Sheridan acknowledged the role of the railroad in changing the face of the American West, and in his Annual Report of the General of the U.S. Army in 1878, he acknowledged that the Native Americans were scuttled to reservations with no compensation beyond the promise of religious instruction and basic supplies of food and clothing—promises, he wrote, which were never fulfilled."[100]