• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16

The railroad in the United States.

Extracts from this document...


Randall, Mac In the simplest manner: the railroad changed the face of a nation. The railroad in the United States changed how people traveled, did business, and how Washington governed people. The railroad created new standards and new laws that still affect the way we live today. It helped create a new type of wealth that had never been seen before and became the first "big business" in the United States. Without the railroads impact, it would be difficult to fathom where the United States and the world would be today. The "golden age" of the railroad is considered to be by many the period that stretched between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the First World War.1 Railroading from 1865 to 1929 covers the great expansion, the golden age and the beginning decline of the railroad. The emergence of the modern America, and the beginning of the Great Depression of the United States also can be seen within these dates; this emphasizes the large role that the railroads had in the industrialization of the America. It is clear that the history of the United States coincides with the history of the railroad; during these times the railroad played a vital a vital role in the building of the United States. But, the relationship was symbiotic, because it is also possible to see that the direction in which the country was going played a role in how the railroad was formed, controlled, and regulated. Truly, the railroad is a form of transportation that helped make the United States what it is today. The year 1865 finally brought an end to war that had sliced a nation in half. The war, however, was not a destructive force to the railroads. "With the exception of the southern lines, American railroads were generally in excellent shape in 1865."2 The Civil War brought new strength to the American railroads. ...read more.


This was needed because the expansion of the rails had now brought the need to move the freight from one line to another. This was not possible because throughout the country there were different gauges. For example in the south the popular gauge was five feet, but on other railroads like the Erie the gauge was six feet. It was decided amongst railroads that a standard must decided on, and that standard became four feet, eight and one half inches.15 Another standard that was created and is still used today is standardized time. Until the movement for Standard Time, each town had its own time. "There were, for example, thirty-eight different times in the state of Wisconsin alone." Given the amount of different times, the speed of trains, and the distance these trains traveled. This spelled one thing: complete chaos. Eventually the problem was solved in 1883, when the General Time Convention was held by the railroads. At this convention it was decided that the continental United States would be broken up into four standard time zones. People soon found it easy to set their clocks by "railroad" time, and thus the railroad standard became a national standard. Other technological innovations that were created to aid the expansion and consolidation of the railways were: the use of steel rails, the automatic coupler, and the air brake. The automatic coupler allowed a coupler to close on impact, but still be able to open from the side of the car. The air brake, invented by George Westinghouse, allowed trains to stop much quicker than they had been able to in the past. Besides bringing about new technology, the consolidation of the railways also brought about the great railroad barons. The railroad had become a likely stop for the strong businessmen interested in making millions by manipulating the rail system. But in gaining such immense power, many railroad builders and consolidators became unethical and ruthless in their business practices. ...read more.


If there is to be an a lasting lesson from the history of the railroads from 1865-1929 it is that major industrial innovations can only live an unregulated life for so long. The United Stated was a booming country experiencing wide spread industrialization. The railroad was an essential part of this boom, but railroads had to change just as the to country had to change. The free going attitude of "laissez-faire" can only last so long in a country where equality and fairness before the law are valued. The railroads fully rode the first wave of industrialization and faded into the background when their time had come. The significance of the railroad will probably never be fully realized, but their impact will always be felt. Encarta Encyclopedia, S.v. "Railroads." CD-ROM Version. Beebe, Lucius. The Trains We Rode. New York: Promontory Press, 1993. Bragdon, Henry. History of a Free Nation. Westerville, Ohio: Glencoe, 1992. Douglas, George. All Aboard. New York: Paragon House, 1992. Stover, John. American Railroads. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1997. The World Book Encyclopedia, 16th ed. S.v. "Railroad." 1John F. Stover, American Railroads (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1997), p. 164. 2Ibid. , p. 59. 3 Ibid. , p. 59. 4 Encarta Encyclopedia, s.v., "railroads." CD-ROM Version 5 Henry Bragdon, History of a Free Nation (Westerville, Ohio: Glencoe, 1992), p. 511. 6 George Douglas, All Aboard (New York: Paragon House, 1992), p. 115. 7 Ibid., p. 115. 8 Douglas, All Aboard, p.120. 9 Ibid. , p. 122. 10 Stover, American Railroads, p. 154. 11 World Book Encyclopedia, 16th ed., s.v., "railroad." 12 Bragdon, History of a Free Nation, p.512. 13 Ibid. , p. 537 14 Encarta Encyclopedia, s.v., "railroads." CD-ROM Version 15 Stover, American Railroads, p.155. 16 Ibid. , p. 607. 17 Ibid. , p. 607. 18 Douglas, All Aboard, p.147. 19 Ibid. , p. 197. 20 Ibid. , p.198 21 Stover, American Railroads, p.123. 22 Ibid. , p. 123. 23 Ibid. , p. 125. 24 Ibid. , p. 128. 25Ibid. , p. 129 26 Ibid. , p.189. 27 Douglas, All Aboard, p.193. 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. American Westward Expansion and the Pacific Railroad.

    "The Louisiana Purchase consists of three separate agreements between the United States and France: a treaty of cession and two agreements providing for the exchange of monies in the transaction. The volume shown above is the French exchange copy of the convention providing for the settlement of an earlier debt

  2. To What Extent Have The Attempts For A Palestinian State Been Blocked By The ...

    of the continual denial of the rights of the Palestinians, and therefore the only rational conclusion of the role of Israel is one of a complete obstacle to peace and a Palestinian state. In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the role of the US has become so pivotal that

  1. Many peoples have contributed to the development of the United States of America, a ...

    They were members of the Lutheran and German Reformed (Calvinist) churches or of pietist sects (Moravians, Mennonites, Amish, and the like); the pietists, in particular, tended to live separately, avoiding English-speaking peoples. From the 1730s waves of Scots-Irish immigrants, numbering perhaps 250,000 by the time of the Revolution, swelled the ranks of the non- English group.

  2. History of the United States

    envisioned a God angered at human transgressions, who chose, purely according to his inscrutable will, a mere "righteous fragment" for salvation. Dissidents of a Baptist orientation founded Rhode Island (chartered 1644). In 1639, Puritans on what was then the frontier established the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the first written constitution in North America; the colony was chartered in 1662.

  1. American History.

    It destroyed Indian resistance [Tecumseh died], leading to American? expansion to the South and West [but not into Canada]. It exposed American militarily weakness and made clear the importance of? better transportation systems, which then made improving those two items nat'l priorities.

  2. Why does the Chinese government at the start of the twenty first century refuse ...

    He died in 1916. However, there was no one to become the successor. Instead China was divided and shared among the warlords; small civil wars were common as they fought other to capture each other's land. After WW1 many movements and protests took place to enforce captured land to be

  1. The Not So Free.

    "I think we need something for the media to tell the American people" replies General Foster. "Tell them there is a national state of emergency. We are under attack from the USSR, not to worry at this moment in time or something along those lines" said Major Roberts.

  2. The 50 year period between 1900 and 1950 remains as perhaps the most important ...

    and a plan that would bring the country out of the Depression. The New Deal called for the Three R's: relief, recovery, and reform. In the first 100 days in office, Roosevelt and the infamous Hundred Days Congress pushed legislation through at a swift rate in an effort to stop the bleeding the Crash had caused.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work