California and the Dream Seekers
This four part series documents the story of the birth and founding
of the "Golden State." From the first explorers who ventured across
the seas from Spain in search of El Dorado to those who came
afterward, spurred by hopes of freedom and opportunity, California
has remained the ultimate expression of the American dream. This
program is suitable for all grade levels and can be used in history,
environmental science, African-American history, archeology,
Spanish, economics, geography, and literature.
In part two of this series, travel back to witness the building of the first transcontinental railroad, the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and learn how Californians overcame any obstacle in their way to create a legacy that would influence the rest of the world. This program is suitable for students in grades 4 and up. Subject areas include geography, science and technology, social studies, government, ethnic studies, and business.
List the men that made up the group known as "The Big 4." How did they contribute to the development of the Central Pacific Railroad? What were their goals and aspirations?
What role did the United States government play in funding the Central Pacific Railroad? Why? What year did construction finally begin?
Discuss the effect of the railroad on the state of California and the rest of the United States. Be sure to elaborate on at least 3 changes brought about by its completion.
How long did it take to complete the Central Pacific Railroad? In 1863 it cost $100,000 a day to build the railroad, calculate the total cost to build it. Estimate what it would cost to build the same railroad today (be sure to use the current value of the dollar not the value of the dollar in the late 1800s). Calculate the daily cost and total cost to construct.
In 1906 San Francisco was leveled by a major earthquake. What is an earthquake? What causes an earthquake to occur? What factors make California more susceptible to earthquakes than other parts of the United States?
California has become one of the largest producers of wine and produce in the United States. What climactic conditions have bestowed California with this honor? What are some agricultural products grown in your state? Are they the same or different then those grown in California? Explain why or why not. If you are from California describe the different crops grown in your region of the state.
How did the railroads and the invention of the refrigerated car alter the eating habits of Americans?
Research the Chinese Exclusion Act. Prepare a five minute speech that examines what prompted the United States government to enact such a policy, its effect on the Chinese immigrants (socially, politically, and economically), and the circumstances leading to its cessation as a law.
Investigate the events leading up to the joining of the east and west branches of the Central Pacific Railroad at Promontory Point, UT. Break the class into groups of 5 and have them reenact this historic event as it happened. You may wish to have them give the perspective of one of the following: workers, citizens at Promontory Point, citizens in other parts of the country, journalists, the "Big 4." Encourage your students to use film, video or any other media.
Name the instrument used to measure the movement of the earth's crust. You can create your own seismograph using a chair, string, a magic marker, and tape. With a partner, tape one end of the string to the bottom of the chair. Tape the other end to the marker (make sure the tip just touches the surface). Now place a long piece of paper under the tip of the marker. Begin pulling the paper under the chair and have your partner drop a textbook on the surface. What happens to the line on the paper? This is similar to how a seismograph records the movement of the earth. What happens if you drop a heavier object? Lighter? What other factors might affect your results? Compare with your classmates.