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Take your students on a virtual field trip to learn about the transcontinental railroad. Using a combination of Google Earth™ 360-degree views, video, informational text, and visuals, your students will travel to 10 locations along the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad lines to learn about the construction of the transcontinental railroad from multiple perspectives.


This virtual field trip covers:

:: What is the transcontinental railroad?

:: Travel impacts

:: Public reception

:: Impact on Indigenous peoples

:: Council Bluffs, Iowa (Golden Spike Park)

:: Omaha, Nebraska (the first tracks)

:: Sherman, Wyoming (Sherman Summit)

:: Buford, Wyoming ( Dale Creek Crossing)

:: Echo Canyon, Utah (Echo Canyon Tunnel)

:: Sacramento, California (the first tracks)

:: Chinese Rail Workers

:: Newcastle, California (Newcastle Gap)

:: Winnemucca, Nevada (Boom town)

:: Box Elder County, Nevada (Camp Victory)

:: Promontory Summit, Utah (Railroad completion)

:: Golden Spike

:: Environmental Impacts

:: Changes to America


This Virtual Field Trip Includes:

:: Informational Text (build background knowledge)

:: Response Questions (EDITABLE)

:: Google Earth™ Links to 360-degree views

:: Video Links

:: Grading Rubric

:: Everything is set up in Google Slides & ready to go!




How it Works:

This virtual field trip can be conducted teacher-led or shared with students through Google Classroom as an independent assignment. Everything is set up for you. This resource is LOW PREP and would even make great sub plans. Student directions are found within the lesson, and direct links are included to specific Google Earth™ locations and videos. All work is completed digitally. No printing necessary.



This virtual field trip is structured. This means that the informational text and links are meaningful and will lead students to think critically as they respond to the questions throughout the virtual field trip. This is also a great way to keep students accountable as they learn and explore. All response questions are EDITABLE, so you can tailor to your class needs. Students complete this activity in edit mode of Google Slides.


Standards Alignment:

:: Common Core Standards for Reading Informational Text

:: 5th Grade Washington State Social Studies Standards

:: Can crosswalk to many different state standards


Grading Rubric:

A grading rubric is included which assesses: accuracy, thoroughness, validity, and writing conventions. Answers will vary throughout, as students are recording their observations and findings.



Please note that students will need to access Google Earth™ and YouTube to complete this assignment. Google Earth™ can be accessed on a desktop using Chrome as the browser. If using a tablet or smartphone, simply download the Google Earth App before starting the virtual field trip.


If you have questions, feel free to reach out prior to purchasing. Looking for another virtual field trip that you don’t see? Let me know! I can be reached directly by email at:


Thank you!

Michelle McDonald, B.A.E.

Social Studies Education, K-12

Elementary Education K-8

Transcontinental Railroad Virtual Field Trip (Google Earth Exploration)

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