Some goods were carried across country, but it was an expensive and overly difficult task, coming across mountainous regions and prairie terrain.
The easier, although far more distant, route west was by sea. Almost all goods, including those used to start work on the transcontinental railroad, were shipped around Cape Horn and across thousands of statute miles to reach western American destinations.
The only transcontinental railroad building materials naturally found on the West Coast were timber (for various structures and cross ties), stone, and brick.
Tools, rail, appliances, machines, and many of the laborers had to be shipped in from other locations.