How the Railroad Changed the 19th Century

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Leland Ballard
American History
3-25-12
How the Railroad changed the 19th Century

In the late 18th and early 19th century, if a person or a good were to travel to another town or state or even across country, their only means of travel was by horse or boat. If you were a man seeking land out west, it could take you over 2 months to get there, as long as you did not die of sickness or get slaughtered by Native Americans. So, with the invention of the railroad, it is not only safer to travel, it is much more economical. Also, with the boom of the railroad came job opportunities. People were traveling the United States and seeing land almost nobody had seen before. With these railroad tracks being built all the way to the East coast, towns and cities were being built around the tracks. This is also the start of the westward expansion. A cart being pulled by a horse could carry a cart of oats about twelve miles a day. With the invention or the train, you could carry 30x the amount of products on a train, and could travel hundreds of miles in the same amount of time. This not only made shipping faster, it meant any food being shipped was fresh, clean, and could be sold for more. Now the cotton and sugar grown in the south can be shipped throughout the whole United States within a matter of a few days to a week. All of this caused an enormous boom in the United States economy, which completely changed the way of life for people living in the United States. Trains not only changed the economy in the 1800’s, they also drastically changed the social life in America. Besides African American workers and the young, single, and white males, Chinese and Irish immigrants were the main workforce. With all these immigrants coming to the United States, they brought with them many items and things from their life with them. From food to medicine, railroads brought upon a new way of life. Now it was not uncommon to have a large town out west with a...
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