To understand the context of the founding of the American Institute of Mining Engineers (AIME), it is necessary to look at the United States as it existed at the time. The Transcontinental Railroad had been completed in 1869, linking the United States from east to west and opening the western mining regions. While the Civil War had ended in 1865, four states, Virginia, Mississippi, Texas and Georgia, had just been readmitted in 1870, and the Standard Oil Company had just been incorporated by John D. Rockefeller. There was a demand for educated mining engineers and metallurgists, yet mining engineering education was in its infancy. The first school offering a degree in mining, the Polytechnic College of Pennsylvania, had opened in 1857 and conferred the first bachelor of mining degrees in 1862. The school closed in about 1890 and educated few mining engineers. It was followed by several other schools, most notably the Columbia School of Mines (1864), graduating a sizable number of mining engineers, and Lehigh University (1866), mentioned here because of its future significance to AIME as the site of the second meeting in 1871. Many mining engineers were educated in Europe. The mining industry was dominated by practical men, self-taught and without technical education, often referred to as the pioneers of American engineering.