History Of American Railroads

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade April 2001

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History of the American Railroad 2/22/01 HOAB Like so much of present day society, the railroad was a product of the industrial revolution. However, the idea of a track for hauling goods dates back about 2,000 years. The ancient Greeks built roads paved with stone blocks that had grooves cut in them. Wagons that had wheels the widths of the grooves were pulled over the roads by horses. The grooves kept the wagons on the road, and the stone paving was much smoother than dirt roads so heavier loads could be handled. These ideas were the beginnings of modern railroading. The American railroad revolution contributed greatly to the growth of the United States as a whole, and aided in the construction of a strong yielding economy. Along with the positive aspects of the railroad system, railroading often at times worked against our country's growth.

It could be said that the development of the railroad somehow sprang up almost magically, simply because it was a fascinating new machine.

In reality it was a specific response to a specific economic need. This economic need was simply the need for a method to ship goods across the U.S. fast and hassle free, the railroad proved successful in satisfying this need. The railroad changed our perception of time, space and distance. Travel that once took days or weeks could be accomplished in hours. No longer did distance keep people from traveling easily or being able to buy or sell goods in cities far away. People were also able to send and receive information much more quickly. The railroads were the first companies to conduct business on a national scale. Railroads had to control their growing business activities that were often spread over hundreds or even thousands of miles. Settlement of much of the middle...