The original Act was titled “An Act to Aid in the Construction of a Railroad and Telegraph Line from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean”. It was brought up originally in front of the 34th United State Congress on August 16th 1856. The Act as it was signed into law on July 1st 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln and included large land grants and the issuance of 30 year government backed bonds to the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads. It also granted that each company would have right to all public lands lying within 200 feet on either side of their track. They also received an additional 10 square miles of land for each mile of track laid. The government bonds to the Pacific Railroad were issued at a rate of $16,000 for each mile completed through the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains.
Under this Act the railroads would receive more than 175 million acres of public land. They sold this land opening vast amounts to migration, selling at a large profit.