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Transcontinental Railroad Statistics

By the Numbers

Estimated time and cost of getting from New York to San Francisco in 1865: several months and up to $1,000.

Estimated time and cost of getting from New York to San Francisco in 1870: seven days and as little as $65 for a ticket on the transcontinental line.

Transcontinental (New York to San Francisco) ticket rates as of June 1870: $136 for first class in a Pullman sleeping car; $110 for second class; $65 for third or "emigrant" class seats on a bench.1

Total miles of track laid by the Central Pacific and Union Pacific when they converged in 1869: 1,776.2

Most track laid down in a single day: ten miles, by the Central Pacific crews on 28 April 1869.

Number of tunnels blasted through the Sierra Nevada by the Central Pacific: 15.

Total value of lands distributed to the railroads as estimated by the U.S. Interior Department's auditor in 1880: $391,804,610.3

Highest altitude on the Central Pacific line: 7,017 feet above sea level at the Summit Tunnel.

Highest altitude on the Union Pacific line: 8,242 feet above sea level at Sherman Pass.

Estimated number of buffalo roaming the Great Plains in 1880: just over 1,000 (down from several million in the early 1800s).

Estimated value of freight carried over the Great Plains by the Pacific railroad in 1880: $50 million.4

1868 return on investment for shares Crédit Mobilier stock: 280%.

Estimated total profit paid out to Crédit Mobilier investors: a minimum of $23 million and possibly much more (while the Union Pacific remained on the verge of bankruptcy).5

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