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IIRCC, the Union Pacific, Southern Pacific and AT&SF all had federal land grants as incentives to the investors. The UP had grants of the right of way and square miles on alternating sides of the right of way from Nebraska to California. That was a lot of land, even if it was still occupied partly by bison and Native Americans. I would think that the Northern Pacific had the same deal. These were national priority projects and the land that was being granted was, in effect, other people's land. This was one reason that late 19th century moguls were so concerned about Georgist land tax programs.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 9th, 2010 at 08:56:08 PM EST
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The Great Northern railway (Northern Pacific was a different, competing one led by tycoon Jay Cooke and which did receive land grants and also went into bankruptcy) actually didn't have the same grants provided to other railroads, perhaps because James J. Hill was not a US citizen or perhaps because he simply didn't ask for them. Part of the Great Northern was formed from J.J. Hill's purchase of the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway, which had previously received land grants for rail right of way, but Great Northern itself never actually received any land grants -- the only railroad never to have done so, in what is now a legend in US railroad history.

 

by santiago on Mon Nov 15th, 2010 at 11:30:58 AM EST
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