Railroads can be referred to as the first big business, and the first industry to develop management bureaucracy (Ogburn 39). Railroads were a vital part of early American history during the 1800s-1860. Railroads brought social, economic, and political change to the country (Stover 26). In the United States a turnpike era and then a canal era had immediately preceded the coming of the railroads, which proved to be fast, direct, and reliable in all weather. After 1830, the railroads grew so quickly that within a decade their mileage surpassed that of the canals (Hollingsworth 28). The development of Railroads was one of the most important phenomena of the Industrial Revolution.
Entrepreneurs realized the need for more ways to move resources and goods. A new form of transportation overtook both roads and canals: The Railroad. It has been said by many economic historians that railroads were “the most important single factor in promoting European economic progress in the 1830s and 1840s.” (Spielvogel 608) The railroad proved to be faster, more reliable, and cheaper than canals (Kennedy 313).
The earliest railroads in the United States were short wooden tramways connecting mines or quarries with nearby streams, which horses could draw heavier loads than on the common roads. At first the railroad faced strong opposition especially from canal backers, they were considered dangerous because flying sparks could set fires. Breaks were feeble and it was difficult to stop in the right place. To protect its investment in the Erie Canal, the carrying of freight on railroads was temporarily prohibited by New York Legislature (Kennedy 313).
George Stephenson, known as the “Father of Railways”, was an English civil engineer and mechanical engineer who built the first public railway line in the world to use steam locomotives. George Stephenson was a big influence on how railroads came to be. Richard Trevithick is credited with the first realistic design of the steam locomotive in 1804. He invented the first steam-powered locomotive on an industrial rail line in Southern Wales (Spielvogel 608).
Engines built by George Stephenson and his sons, Robert, were considered superior. Rocket, which was built by them, was used on the first public railway line which opened in 1830, extending 32 miles from Liverpool to Manchester. Rocket went 16 miles per hour (Spielvogel 609).
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the South Carolina Railroad both played major roles in early days of steam locomotion. The South Carolina Railroad was the first line to rely on steam power. It intended to connect interior points to coastal cities as a way to enhance port commerce. It opened in 1833 in the city of Hamburg, South Carolina, and it had the distinction of being the longest continuous railroad in the world at 136 miles (Ogburn 39). The Baltimore and Ohio railroad gets credit for beginning the first truly modern railroad. In 1830, the Baltimore and Ohio...