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Lesson Plan 6 - Transportation
download lesson06.pdf

This lesson introduces students to the development of the railroads in California and the Sacramento region. In Lesson 6, students use the Sacramento History Online database at

1. Explain the role of the railroad in connecting California to the rest of the U.S.
2. Recognize the names of early pioneers in railroad history.
3. Use the SHO database to find specific historical information.

4.1.3 Physical and human geographic features that define places and regions in California
4.4.1 - 4.4.4 California's rise as an agricultural and industrial power

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DOCUMENTS TO DISCUSS (view online or print screen)
The documents below relate to railroad travel in the Sacramento area.
CLICK on an image to view or print the document.

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1. Theodore Judah
Seated portrait. Daguerreotype.

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2. Store and warehouse of Huntington, Hopkins and Co.
Store and warehouse of Huntington, Hopkins and Co.

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3. Central Pacific Railroad steam locomotive No. 4
Central Pacific Railroad No. 4, T. D. Judah, placed into service April 9, 1864.

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4. Railroad Shops
[not dated]
Southern Pacific Railroad Sacramento Shops complex: interior view of Machine Shop.

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5. C.P. Huntington and
1919 engine

[ca. 1923]
View of the C.P. Huntington, built for the Central Pacific Railroad in 1863, next to Southern Pacific locomotive #3631, built in 1919.

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6. Streetcar near Western Pacific Railroad Depot
[ca. 1915]
Streetcar stopped at Western Pacific Depot at 19th and K Streets, Sacramento.

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1. Print any of the images shown above that you will use in your discussion, as well as Student Activity Sheet 6 and Key. (Label the images by their number to identify them in the instructions).

2. Read Background Article 6. You may wish to read it to your students or have them read it by themselves. Discuss any questions that they may have.

3. Show and discuss Document 1, Theodore Judah. Tell them that this image shows one of the people who helped promote the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Can anyone identify the person in the photograph? How old do they think the photograph is? (1848) Can anyone identify the type of photograph it is? (daguerreotype)

4. Document 2, Store and warehouse of Huntington, Hopkins and Co. Tell students that this is the building where the Big Four met with Judah. This building was moved to a different block but still stands in Old Sacramento. Ask if any students have visited Old Sacramento.

5. Document 3, Central Pacific Railroad steam locomotive No 4. This image depicts one of the early Central Pacific locomotives. Ask students if they can find the photographer’s shadow in this image.

6. Document 4, Railroad Shops. There are many images of the railroad shops in the SHO database. Ask students what type of work would be needed to build and maintain trains.

7. Document 5, C.P. Huntington and 1919 engine. Ask students to compare and contrast the two locomotives. Which is older? What similarities and differences do they notice about the two? Tell the students that the C.P. Huntington (Central Pacific No. 3) is a famous locomotive that is still on display in Sacramento at the California State Railroad Museum. Ask if any students have seen this locomotive.

8. Document 6, Streetcar near Western Pacific Railroad Depot. Ask students to identify the type of vehicle. (streetcar) Have any students been to a city where streetcars are still used? How were streetcars powered? (horses and then electricity) How was this streetcar powered? How can they tell? (power line)

9. Give students Activity Sheet 6: The Railroad Comes to Sacramento (printed from the PDF file). After they have completed the activity, discuss their answers as a group.

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1. Search the SHO collection together, using the keyword and advanced searches. Which keywords help you find documents about the railroads?

2. Find three different types of ephemera in the database that relate to the railroads.

3. Write a journal entry describing a trip that you took on a railroad in the 1870s. How did it feel to ride in a passenger train? Where did you sleep? What did you eat? Whom did you meet, and where were they going? Map the trip as you would have taken it then and today. Calculate the cost of the trip and compare it to the cost of the same trip today.

4. Find out more about the life of Chinese laborers who helped build the Transcontinental Railroad. Write a letter from a Chinese laborer working on the railroad to someone in China, describing his life in America.

5. Set up a railroad business in your classroom. Map the routes that you will establish to move goods and passengers. Describe what resources you will need to build your railroad. Convince investors why your route makes sense. Name your railroad. In the database, find examples of documents that you will need for your railroad business and make your own (example: advertisements, program from opening celebration). Role-play a trip, with passengers buying tickets, deciding what to pack, and describing what they see on and from the train.

6. If you live close enough, visit the California State Railroad Museum and the other related historical sites in Old Sacramento.

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Blumberg, R. Full steam ahead: The race to build a transcontinental railroad.
  Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 1996. (juvenile)

California State Railroad Museum (museum guide). 1999.

Holden, W. Sacramento: Excursions into its history and natural world.
  Fair Oaks, CA: 2 Rivers Publishing Co., 1988.

Hunt, R. D. and Arent, W.S. Oxcart to airplane. Los Angeles, CA:
  Powell Publishing Co., 1929.

Steinheimer, R. California State Railroad Museum: Railroading in California and the West.
  Santa Barbara, CA: Albion Publishing Group for the California Department of Parks and Recreation
  and the California State Railroad Museum, 1991.

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Brief History of the Sacramento Northern

California State Railroad Museum

Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum

Sacramento Valley Railroad

Union Pacific Railroad History
Includes information on Southern Pacific and Western Pacific Railroads.

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Sacramento History Online © 2003 - 2004