Impact of Railroads on the United States
During the mid 1800’s, several inventions and industrial improvements were made that would change life in the United States forever. One of the greatest improvements was that of the railroad. The first documented American railway, which was horse powered, began operating in the year 1810 (Wilson, Pg 20). However, with the invention of the steam engine applied to this concept, the railroad became the quickest and most efficient mode of transportation available. Still, the railroads were just short lines, “connecting city to city, or region to region” (History Alive). However, the creation of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 made it possible to link the nation from sea to sea. The improvement of railroads not only facilitated travel, but also boosted the American economy and encouraged settlement in the West.
Due to the railroads, travel was not only easier, but also faster. In fact, with the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, “travel time between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts shrank from four months to ten days” (History Alive). Now, people were able to change their place of living easier than before, or they could search for opportunities in other regions of the country without months of delay.
Words cannot describe how much the American economy was impacted by the development of railroads. Even during production, the railroads stimulated economy when entrepreneurs spent “extraordinary amounts of money on steel, timber, coal, iron, and other necessities” (Ch 3 Sec 2) creating them. After construction was finished, the railroads linked several regions and provinces and created a nationwide market. Merchants were able to travel on the railroad lines in order to sell goods while those who lived on the frontier were able to “obtain goods that were previously unavailable” due to distance, “or extremely hard to get” (Kelly, Pg 1). This stimulated commerce and added a greater demand for goods which also...
Cited: Appleby, Joyce Oldham., Alan Brinkley, Albert S. Broussard, James M. McPherson, and Donald A. Ritchie. "Ch 3 Sec 1-2." The American Vision: Modern times. New York, NY: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 2006. N. pag. Print.
Kelly, Martin. "Effect of Railroads on the United States." About.com American History. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.
"Lesson 12: Change and Conflict in the American West." Learn TCI: History Alive. Teacher Curriculum Institute, n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.
Wilson, William Hasell. A Brief Review of Railroad History from the Earliest Period to the Year 1894. Philadelphia: Allen, Lane & Scott, 1895. Print.
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