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The Union Pacific Railroad was incorporated on July 1, 1862 under an act of Congress entitled Pacific Railroad Act of 1862. The act was approved by President Abraham Lincoln, and it provided for the construction of railroads from the Missouri River to the Pacific as a war measure for the preservation of the Union. It was constructed westwardly from Council Bluffs, Iowa to meet the Central Pacific Railroad, which was constructed eastwardly from San Francisco Bay.

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