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The United States Grows
(1865-1900)

Jeb - Rails West

The United States Grows<BR>(1865-1900)
The United States Grows
(1865-1900)


Jeb - Rails West
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Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   high interest, readability grades 5 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   2.71

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    bunks, outdo, bedroll, lasting, amidst, bugles, half-built, striking, westward, brutal, chaos, rails, chasm, giddy, span, bolted
     content words:    Union Pacific, Central Pacific, Dale Creek, Dale Creek Canyon, Then Corky, Reb Boy


Jeb - Rails West
By Toni Lee Robinson
  

1     Jeb sank into his bedroll. Four miles of track they'd laid today. His body felt like it was still moving. The rhythm of the day's work pounded in his brain. Pack the heavy ties. Set them in the roadbed. Trot the tracks up and into place. Set the spikes. Then, the arcing swing of the sledgehammers.
 
2     Jeb's brain echoed with the ringing thoing! Thoing! The sound of the heavy hammers striking the spikes rang through the day. Now it made a ragged melody in his sleep. And he was asleep. Even the cold couldn't keep him awake. His aching muscles relaxed.
 
3     "AaaaaaaHEEEEEEEEEaaaahhhhh!" The darkness was torn by a raucous scream. Jeb bolted up out of his bed. Bone-jolting screams filled the night. Indians! Jeb heard his bunkmates around him. The men cursed, fumbling in the dark for clothes and weapons.
 
4     Then, amidst the chaos, came the sound of bugles. Horses pounded off into the distance. The frantic movement around Jeb slowed. There was a sigh of relief. The soldiers were pursuing the raiding party. The workers would be safe now.
 
5     Jeb lay down and tried to go back to sleep. Bunks built into boxcars were their living quarters. This bunkhouse on wheels followed them along the tracks they built. When it was time for breakfast, they would eat their meal in another made-over boxcar. Then they'd head out to another day of grinding labor.
 
6     "Faster, faster!" was the order of the day. The lifting, carrying, and pounding went on from sunup to sundown. Hundreds of miles of track had to be built. The rail line must be laid over ravines, rocks, and rivers. It would span the continent. Brutal winter cold, the blazing heat of prairie summers, or attacking natives – nothing could be allowed to stop it.
 
7     Success was measured by miles and by rivalry. Jeb's Union Pacific crew built toward the west from Omaha, Nebraska. The Central Pacific crews were building toward the east from Sacramento. Big money and lasting fame went to the winners. The crews labored to outdo each other. Three miles a day, five, seven—faster, faster, faster!
 
8     Before the war, this life would have seemed like hell itself. But now Jeb was glad to be here. Hell lay behind him now. He'd gone to fight the Yankees at fifteen. Two years of war were a nightmare in his memory, a weary blur of fear, hunger, pain, and blood. Now, building a railroad across the continent seemed like a walk in the park.

Paragraphs 9 to 20:
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The United States Grows
(1865-1900)

             The United States Grows
(1865-1900)



More Lessons
             High School Reading Comprehensions and High School Reading Lessons
             Special Education United States History Materials for Teachers


United States
             United States


    American Government  
 
    Black History and Blacks in U.S. History  
 
    Children in History  
 
    Government Careers  
 
    Hispanic Heritage  
 
    How Can I Help?  
 
 
    Immigration  
 
    National Parks and Monuments  
 
    Native Americans  
 
    Presidents of the United States  
 
    Women's History  
 


United States History
    A Nation Divided
(1840-1861)
 
 
    A New Nation
(1776-1830)
 
 
    After the Civil War
(1865-1870)
 
 
    American Revolution  
 
    Cold War
(1947-1991)
 
 
    Colonial America (1492-1776)  
 
    Lewis and Clark
(1804-1806)
 
 
    Pearl Harbor  
 
    Spanish American War (1898)  
 
    The 1890's  
 
    The 1900's  
 
    The 1910's  
 
    The 1920's  
 
    The 1930's  
 
 
    The 1940's  
 
    The 1950's  
 
    The 1960's  
 
    The 1970's  
 
    The 1980's  
 
    The 1990's  
 
    The 2000's  
 
    The Civil War
(1861-1865)
 
 
    The Great Depression
(1929-1945)
 
 
    The United States Grows
(1865-1900)
 
 
    The War of 1812  
 
    Wild, Wild West  
 
    World War I
(1914-1918)
 
 
    World War II  
 


50 States

             Fifty States Theme Unit


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