Huge numbers of settlers continued to come to California in the decades following the end of the gold rush. Three major economic developments accompanied the arrival of immigrants: agricultural activities expanded and diversified; railroads were built between California and the rest of the country; and manufacturing activities and new economic enterprises grew rapidly.
The focus of agriculture in California shifted in the 1860s from raising livestock, or ranching, to growing grain. Particularly in the vast Central Valley, farmers began devoting former grazing land to wheat and barley cultivation. Grain and flour produced in California were carried by ship around South America to the eastern United States. Farmers in the Central Valley and in southern California, however, found they could make more money raising fruits and vegetables. After 1869 California was linked by railroad with the Eastern states; refrigerated freight cars made shipping fruit and vegetables to those markets possible.
The first railroad within the state, a 35-km (22-mile) line between Sacramento and Folsom, was completed in 1855. Two railroad companies built the first transcontinental railroad: The Union Pacific Railway laid tracks west from Omaha, Nebraska, and the Central Pacific Railroad, under the leadership of wealthy Sacramento businessmen Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, Collis P. Huntington, and Mark Hopkins, laid track east from Sacramento.
The two lines were joined at Promontory, near Ogden, Utah, on May 10, 1869. In 1876 the Central Pacific was extended southward, reaching Los Angeles. The southern portion of this line was called the Southern Pacific Railroad. Early in the 1880s the Southern Pacific linked California with New Orleans. Railroads had originally promised to stimulate the California economy and to attract new settlers to the state.
Although economic growth did increase and settlers did arrive, especially in southern California, economic depression struck the nation in the 1870s, and few of the settlers who came could afford to begin farming immediately. Over time, however, the railroads encouraged the rapid growth of cities in California and made it easy and relatively inexpensive to ship agricultural products across the country.
Mining, primarily for gold, was the main nonagricultural economic activity in California after 1850; but, beginning in the 1870s, manufacturing increased considerably.
By 1900 manufacturing had become the most important state economic activity, although meat packing as well as fruit and vegetable canning were based on California’s growing agricultural production. Other important activities included lumber milling, brick manufacturing, fish processing, and the production of farm machinery. Oil production also began in southern California during the last two decades of the century. "USA" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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