Thanks for the long response. Will try to do it justice. I tried to follow the base map as best I can but that might have been my own subconscious assumption guiding my hand. This is my first map trying to copy a real map with my own hand. Las Vegas was on the basemap but very small. I added because I needed a name in that spot and recognizable is nice. I haven't written the updates for this part yet so I can't answer in detail. And yes, this is a bit bombastic. Many Southerners wanted a southern route in OTL. They never truly rallied behind the cause and then the Civil War happened. In this TL however, the South stays in the Union (mostly) and is able to throw their Congressional weight around. It should be noted that this railway is viewed as able to export slavery to the Southwest, a vital feature for the South. Also,t he idea was that the railway would be an economic boon to everywhere it passed (which was not truly the case in OTL). When the USA did surveys of the West, looking for routes (organized by Jefferson Davis), they looked at four. One was very far north from Minnesota through Dakotas to Portland area. One was OTL through Utah. Another was through the Gadsen purchase so extremely close to the Mexican border. A fourth was considered on this route which later became highway 40 (and the Sante Fe railway). The landscape allows this route. The TL is a Douglas wins in 1856 and manages to hold the union together. And yes this is a sop to the South to keep them engaged, and not a popular one. And yes, I foresee faster statehood for the Southwest in this TL although the climate is very harsh here. Mostly mining really, at this stage.