Thomas Durant re-directed the Union Pacific line in a crazy oxbow shape leaving Omaha, Nebraska, simply to add miles to the line -- and money to his pocket.
Collis Huntington sent spies to Union Pacific's suppliers and paid off a Capitol Hill doorkeeper to inform him about the UP's activities in Washington.
Crews from both companies cut corners, building hastily and poorly while racing to lay as many miles of track as possible. Pure profit was the motive. "The line we want now is the one we can build the soonest," wrote Central Pacific surveyor Samuel Montague, "even if we rebuild immediately."
Shortly after the site launched in 1999, we asked our users to answer this controversial question. Below are the results from this poll.
Do you think the railroad could have been completed without backroom deals and criminal profiteering?
Total number of poll participants: 5228
Of the participants polled, 1860 watched at least half of the film; of those, 890 said the film influenced their vote.
Equipment failure, human error and bad luck led to the country's worst nuclear accident in 1979.
The first around-the-world air race was sponsored to prove that the airplane had a commercial future.
Originally settled as a mail stop, Las Vegas changed from an Old West vacation town, to a mafia haven, to the "Atomic City" and "Sin City."
Accounting for America's most famous inventor and his role in America's future.
A personal story of one family's dramatic effort to hold onto their family farm in Iowa as massive foreclosures sweep the nation in the 1990s.
The most daring and innovative accomplishment at the turn of the 20th century.
A central figure in the narrative of how the west was won, Wyatt Earp and his story became an American legend. Part of the Wild West collection.
Major Walter Reed's discovery in 1900 that mosquitoes spread yellow fever halted an outbreak and led to the disease's eventual eradication.