So long as wagon trains toiled over prairie trails, or pony expresses handled light pack ages and the mails, or the overland coach car ried a limited number of travelers, the resources and capacities of the great West remained un tried. But, in 1862, two companies accepted the offer made by the national government of land and loans to construct a continuous rail way from the Missouri to the Pacific. Prece dent for this assistance of "the government was found in the custom of granting certain portions of the domain for constructing means of access, thereby rendering the remaining land more val uable. In 1869 the line was opened and it sounded the death knell of an isolated West. When the road was begun, there were only 14,916 miles of railway beyond the Mississippi. When it was completed, there were 22,863 miles in operation in that remote region.
The Great American Desert, as our fathers mistakenly called the Great Plains, is now fretted over with railway lines. In its midst lies Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas, among the largest corn and wheat producing States. West of the Mississippi lie Texas, Montana, Oregon and New Mexico, containing more sheep than the remaining States combined. West of the Mississippi he California, Idaho and Colorado, producing more precious metals than all the remaining States. Most of the manufacturing is still carried on east of the Mississippi. Likewise a majority of the people dwell on the eastern side. But the river, running north and south, is no longer a menace to the perpetuation of the republic as it once was. Migration and trade run cast and west, and the great Father of Waters is spanned by more than a score of railway bridges, linking the people together along modern lines of transportation. These trunk lines bind together
the East and West, the old and the new, sire and sons, manufactures and raw products, storehouses and grain fields. Home ties are no longer sundered by migration; sectionalism is no longer begotten of distance; and the people move freely to and fro over soil which their forebears wrested from nature in order that the experiment of a confederated republic might he tried on the largest scale yet at tempted.
Bibliography.— Croly, H.