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Railroad Development In America Essay

2340 words - 9 pages

Railroads have been around for almost two hundred years. Between 1820 and 1850 the first railroads began to appear and the need for the further development became apparent. America had just gone through an era of canal making; and now with the canals not in total operation, railroads began to thrive and take jobs that would once have gone to the canals.

     However, it was not easy for the railroad industry to promote their innovative new mode of transportation. With vision and ingenuity, the pioneers of the early American railroads were able to surmount all obstacles that stood in their way and led the Nation into a “transportation revolution.”

Early American Railroads

     The history of railroad development in America was heavily influenced by the industry in England. Attempts to develop the steam engine began as early as 1813. In 1814 George Stephenson developed the first commercially feasible locomotive. From 1820 to 1825 Mr. Stephenson worked on further developing the engines and their ability to haul cargo and, eventually, passengers. Many railroad companies were established in England during this time period. The Liverpool and Manchester Railroad became the first common carrier railroad in the world.

America’s First Railroads

     Before all of the new engines from Europe came to America, the railroad industry was very primitive. In fact the first railroad in America was only three miles long. It was basically a mining track from Quincy, Massachusetts to the Neponset River. The rails were made of pine covered by oak which was in turn covered by a flat iron bar. Construction of this railroad commenced in 1826 and was completed in 1827. The second railroad was started in January of 1827 and completed in May of the same year. The tracks were used for a coal operation. The tracks only went a short distance and worked by gravity and the force of mules.

     Even before these early railroads, Colonel Stevens had suggested that he could build a railroad at less cost in place of what was to be the Erie Canal. Along with early railroads, the early ancestors of the locomotives were also very primitive. As said earlier, the carts were either horse drawn or worked on a system utilizing gravity.

Pioneers of the Early Railroads

     In the early 1820’s America’s major mode of transportation of people and goods were canals and stagecoaches. Even before 1820, Oliver Evans of Philadelphia in the year 1813 was forecasting steam driven carriages that would provide travel “almost as fast as birds fly, between 15 and 20 miles per hour... carriages may pass each other going in opposite directions and may travel by night as well as day; and the passengers will sleep as comfortably as they do now in steamboats”. Evans’ own early invention, the Orukter Amphibolos, or the Amphibious Digger was an early predecessor to the steam locomotive.

     The first steam locomotive in the United States was built in 1825 and was operated over...

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