Transportation was essential to economic development, and the need became more critical with westward expansion.  Factories might be considered undemocratic, but there was no doubt that you needed roads to unify the 13 colonies into a nation.   Note particularly how transportation technology was adapted to meet American conditions.


  A Burr Truss Covered Bridge


 Celebration of the Completion of the Erie Canal

Steam Boats:

  The Clermont, from an early history of steam power

 removing snags


 Best Friend of Charleston, 1830
total mileage:
1830 1840 1850 1860 1870
canals 1277 3326 3698

railroad     73 3328 8879 30,636 50,000

Adapting the railroad to American conditions:

started with the problem that English locomotives were too heavy and rigid--distances were long, iron track was expensive.  Inventions concentrated on the problem of cost/mile

 railroad construction (image HD217)

 The John Bull,  imported in 1831

Government helped with the huge expense.

The railroad brought modern management and a national market.  These led to big business and consumer culture.

 A timeline of railway history

This page written and copyright  Pamela E. Mack
last updated 9/27/2002