Transcontinental Railroad

Instead of reading the book, Charlie Brown & company have a nice little video that covers this topic nicely, and will likely be remembered far longer then a few pages of dry, oversimplified text.

Discussion Questions:

  • Name the company that started building in Omaha, Nebraska?
  • Name the company that started building in Sacremento, California?
  • What did the Federal Government promise the railroad companies for building?
  • Where did the two tracks join?
  • What is the “Golden Spike”?
  • When did building start? When did it end? How many years did it take to complete?
  • Which President signed the order to start?  Who was President when it was completed?

Golden Spike

More Resources:

Central Pacific Railroad Museum

Today in History (a .gov website)

Golden Spike Photo & information (a .gov website)

History Channel


PBS Documentary:  American Experience Trans Continental Railroad
——- Video available on YouTube – Part 1 & Part 2

Steam Locomotives – How do they work?

steam_engine_21The book‘s explanation of a steam locomotive reads like something I’d read to my 3 year old nephew, not a 3rd grader.

“The steam presses on pipes inside the locomotive. It moves a special part that turns the wheels.”

So I found a video that explains it all in proper terms: piston, valve, etc.

So after watching the video, we can read the slightly less childish text on page 215 that describes the job of a fireman and the engineer.

Discussion Questions:

  • How is the fireman on a train different than a fireman in our neighborhood?  How are they the same?
  • What is the engineer’s job?
  • What kind of problems might an engineer see on the tracks ahead?
  • What movie can you think of where an engineer saw a problem on the tracks ahead?

Links for more information:
How the Steam Engine of the Locomotive Works

Animated Engines
Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum