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History of Transportation in America - Essay Example

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History of Transportation in America

During this time period, transportation in America was initially slow, tedious, and difficult. There were limited choices of transportation and they were all exhausting. Variations on the horse and buggy were the most popular means of transportation, which was adequate for journeys across town, but not for longer trips. Longer trips were very costly as well as dangerous. Covered wagon crossings were notorious for their hazards yet did not deter the pioneer spirit.
The Civil war had both a positive and negative effect on transportation in America. Parts of the country - most notably the South were in ruins, and many citizens were bankrupted by the war and thus unable to travel. The B&O railroad suffered severely during Confederate raids. In one summer alone, Stonewall Jackson made off with fourteen locomotives. (Stover 1970) However many advancements were made in the name of warfare including a larger transportation system that was previously used to help move troops.
With the development of the transcontinental railroad, and the final meeting of the two lines in 1869 transportation became more significantly easier. The project was originally established in the Pacific Railway Act of 1862. It quickly surpassed the former means of travel such as stagecoach lines and wagon trains. The achievement of a uniform gauge for the railroad tracks greatly assisted in the development of the transcontinental railroad. (Stover 1970) Also of note was the development of a uniform time zone system, allowing the trains to arrive and depart on a agreed upon schedule. (Stover 1970)
The outcome of these advances led to drastic changes in the landscape of the country. The far reaches of the country were now reachable with a little bit of time and money. What would have previously taken months, and a significant risk and investment was now accessible for $65 and a 7 day train ride. (Stover 1970)
Unit 2 1877-1920
Transportation in the time period between 1877-1920 was a fast paced race to development. Advancements in railroads continued, while the automobile, electric cable systems, and underground railway (subway) systems began their rapid growth. Socially speaking, Americans were now on the move with easier access to both personal and mass transit.
Mass transit systems of electric cars became commonplace in the 1880's and 1890's, replacing the roads previously clogged with horses and buggies. (Carson 1999) The first underground subway system was built in Boston and opened in 1897. This allowed city dwellers to travel within their city with relative ease and comfort. Inter-city travel was still primarily by either train, or traveling along the mail route roads on some sort of horse-driven apparatus. People who resided further out in the country were still rather isolated as the only transportation accessible was the railways which usually ran only between larger cities with few stops in between. (Carson 1999) The railroads also catered to the wealthier clientele, leaving the common passenger looking for an alternative means of transportation. Then, the automobile arrived.
The automobile is a four-wheeled vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine. It was the result of a series of inventions which began in 1769 with Cugnot's steam-powered road vehicle. A breakthrough in ...Show more


The history of transportation is broad and dynamic. It has experienced mass growth and leaves one to wonder what direction we will head in next. The effect of growth of transportation has left our society in a state of constant movement. From buggy days to the air vehicles of the future, we are moving…
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History of Transportation in America essay example
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