Round 4: Rail USA
The First Transcontinental Railroad in the United States was built across North America in the 1860s, linking the railroad network of the eastern U.S. with California on the Pacific coast. It was finished on May 10, 1869 at the famous Golden spike event at Promontory Summit, Utah. Much of the original right-of-way is still in use today and owned by the modern Union Pacific Railroad. From the middle 19th century until approximately 1920, if a person traveled from one city to another in the United States, the trip almost certainly was by rail. By 1910, close to 100% of intercity passenger trips were made by railroad.
In the 20th century automobile travel had begun to cut into the rail passenger market, but it was the development of the Interstate Highway System and of commercial aviation that dealt the most damaging blows to rail transportation. On May 1, 1971, the federally funded Amtrak took over intercity passenger rail service in the continental United States. All of Amtrak's routes were continuations of prior service. Amtrak was given the huge responsibility of rerouting passenger trains from the then seven existing train terminals in Chicago (LaSalle, Dearborn, Grand Central, Randolph, Chicago Northwestern Terminal, Central, and Union) into just one, Union Station.
At the present time, Amtrak has some presence in all but two of the 48 contiguous states. During 2006, Amtrak reported more than 24.3 million passengers, its highest total to date. An average of more than 67,000 passengers ride on up to 300 Amtrak trains per day.
On Conquer Club, Rail USA is one of the most complicated, yet straightforward maps. Designed by cairnswk, the map features many bonuses that follow the train tracks. The stations are designated with a three-letter acronym both on the map and in the XML. Chicago features a distinguishable hub where all eight rail lines can attack each other. The hub itself gives a nice +8 bonus if you can manage to hold it.