How Did the Transcontinental Railroad Affect Western Expansion in the United States?

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The transcontinental railroad greatly increased Westward expansion in the United States of America during the latter half of the nineteenth century. The history of the United States has been influenced by England in many ways. In the second half of the 1800's, the railroad, which was invented in England, had a major effect on Western expansion in the United States. 'Railroads were born in England, a country with dense populations, short distances between cities, and large financial resources. In America there were different circumstances, a sparse population in a huge country, large stretches between cities, and only the smallest amounts of money.' ('Railroad' 85) The first American railroads started in the 1830's from the Atlantic ports of Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Charleston, and Savannah (Douglas 23). Within twenty years, four rail lines had ... car in 1870, beef became part of the diets of the millions in the East (232). Thus, the railroad created a sustainable industry for the cattle ranchers in the Mid-West and the city of Omaha. Many other small towns along the railroad also boomed during the last quarter of the 1800's. Without the railroad, the homesteads could have only been reached by wagon, which would have discouraged many if not most of the settlers going to become farmers. Unlike the gold miners of the earlier years, the farmers did not dream of getting rich quickly. They wanted to be self-sufficient, and they felt that the land on the Prairie could help them do it. The railroad was an incredible catalyst in the population of the Mid-West .
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