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The completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869 allowed farmers and ranchers to get their grain or beef to markets much more easily.  This advance in transportation technology was a double-edged sword.  The ease with which one could ship goods was great for business big and small, but the power of the railroads to set artificially high prices, and, in effect, deny their services could bankrupt a company.

 

On the other hand, the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869 allowed and encouraged settlers to move further and further westward, into the Great Plains and to the West Coast. For people, the railroad cut the journey form coast to coast down to a few weeks.  For the first time, the population was shifting from rural to urban, and from east to west.  For many, the call of the frontier could now be answered.