At the turn of the 20th century, most of Europe and the United States experienced unprecedented growth. Never before in the history of the world can one see progress moving full steam ahead. Looking back there can be many factors that could have contributed the runaway economic growth especially in the decades after World War II.
But in all these reasons there is one crucial aspect of progress that without it all of the above would have been rendered impossible to achieve. It is the development of steam locomotive and railways.
This paper will look into the current patterns of economic growth in some North Atlantic nations with a special focus on the United States and try to find out the connection with the development of steam locomotive and railways.
It all began in a period of Western history that is now popularly known as the Industrial Revolution. Just like the Renaissance that happened a hundred or so years before it, the Industrial Revolution paved the way for numerous changes in the way men see the world around them.
It is in this period of human history where one could see technology taking over the lives of people and its hold on them could be understood by the help of the following insights by Derry and Williams who wrote that, "Technology is largely concerned with the process of transformation - the transformation of raw materials into useful or aesthetically pleasing articles" (1993, 259).
When scientists and entrepreneurs in the 19th century Europe was able to get themselves familiarized with the tremendous potential of steam engines, they were now ready for another innovation that will change the course of history.
It was an Englishman, George Stephenson and his sons who dev...
son and his sons who developed the first successful steam locomotive that they christened as the Rocket in 1829 and according to Josh Sakolsk, "Soon, railroads based on steam locomotives grew explosively across England. In just fifteen eyars, 2441 miles of track had been laid to carry not only cargo but people as well" (Sakolsky, 2005, 6).
Derry and Williams gave the explanation to the significance of the steam locomotive in assuring the success of the Industrial Revolution by suggesting that transport improvements operate both as a cause and effect and they remarked:
They are an effect because the steam-engine  made possible new modes of transport by sea, land, and air. But the new means of transport were also a cause of industrial change. Without them bulky and heavy materials - in the first phase, coal and iron, and later, steel, petroleum, Malayan tin, and rubber - could never have been concentrated for manufacture, nor cold the food have been found for the manufacturing populations (1993, 364).
All eyes are on England at the time of the Industrial Revolution. Every nation in the world aspires to be like the rich and powerful nations in Europe, more especially the Great Britain who at this time can still boast that the sun does not set on the British Empire. It is therefore understandable that by this time, their once colony, the United States of America is poised to copy and to emulate all the great things that is happening in the nation closest to home.
Sakolsky then pointed out the inevitable; America operated its first railway by 1830 and he added, "After 1848, Chicago became the main hub for transportation with many different rail lines and a canal system terminating there" (2005, 7).
There is a saying that not all that glitters is gold. ...
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