What Was the Transportation Revolution, Why Was It Needed and What Did It Tie Together
Finally railroads were introduced and they provided the solution, for railroads could be built anywhere and carry many tons of freight and people. Americans borrowed from English experience, where the first roads were built. The Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) was the first introduced in 1828, followed by NY Central RR in 1831, and Erie RR in 1832. These short line RR’s dominated by the 1860s, there were many railroads and some 31,000 miles of track.
What difference did it make? If one were going from Cincinnati on the Ohio River to New York City in 1815 by keelboat and wagon, the trip would take over fifty days. By 1850, the same trip could be made by steamboat to New Orleans and then a packet ship in twenty-eight days or by The Erie Canals and then the Hudson River in eighteen days, or, better yet, by railroad in six to eight days. Similar gains were made in the cost of shipping. The cost of a ton-mile in 1815 was 70 cents, in the 1850s it had dropped to between 2 and 9 cents if shipping by railroad and one cent if shipping by canal. America had finally created a logical and reasonable means of transportation to ship products to and from the three economic