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Transportation Revolution

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  1. Transportation Revolution United States I

  2. After 1815, Dramatic improvements in transportation • Roads • Steamboats • Canals • Railroads • Create interregional linkages, previously not in existance

  3. Condition in 1815 • Rural nation—highly fragmented • Transportation ranged from primitive to non-existent • West of Appalachians—almost totally undeveloped

  4. Western transportation • Most settlers lived near shores of Ohio/Mississippi River System • Float products down river—from Pittsburgh about 30 days • At New Orleans—shipped to Eastern ports • Boats then torn apart for lumber and boatsmen walked home on Natchez Trace

  5. Upstream Transport • Difficult and Expensive • Poling up river—15 miles per day • Results • Limited goods • Expensive prices

  6. East-West • Natural flow • Hauling goods over mountains expensive

  7. Roads • National Road • Baltimore to Wheeling, Virginia by 1818 • Lancaster Turnpike • Linked Philadelphia, Lancaster and Pittsburgh • New York • Major road from Albany to Lake Erie by 1812 • By 1821—4,000 miles of road

  8. Problems with roads • Expensive • Especially for bulky items • Oats example • Hard to maintain • Often not linked together • Privately owned • No common plan

  9. Steamboats • Key to western development • John Fitch and Robert Fulton • Clermont 1807 • Flatbottom boat development • 1st riverboat by 1815 • Booms • New Orleans as major port • Massive flow of good—up and down river • Freight charges reduced • Interior opened to development

  10. Dangers of Steamboats • Very unsafe • Short life span of boats • Boiler explosions • Fires • High loss of life

  11. Canals • Steamboats conquer western rivers • N-S flow to Gulf of Mexico • Still looking for effective way to reach eastern seaboard • Canal was option • Engineering • Costs • New York looked promising • Good geography—Lake Ontario Shoreline

  12. Erie Canal • DeWitt Clinton—key figure • Believed possible—only 570 foot rise • Convinces NYS legislature to build 364 mile canal • Longest to this point 28 miles • Begun in 1819 Finished 1825 • Most was handdug through forest lands • New immigrant labor

  13. Success • Immediate success • Dramatically lowers transportation costs • $100 to $15 per ton • Cuts travel time to 8 days • Urban Development • Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse • Agricultural Development

  14. Canal Boom • Encouraged other states to develop comparable projects • Set off 20 year canal boom • Some effective, other much less so • Pennsylvania Canal—Pittsburgh and Philadelphia • Combined canal and railroad tracking • Most went bust because of overbuilding

  15. Railroads • First railroads connected cities to rivers and canals • B & O Railroad linked Baltimore to the rivers of the west • Approx. 3,000 miles built between 1820 and 1840 • Did not constitute a national or regional network • Not until 1850’s did this emerge

  16. Impact • Threatened to make other forms of transportation obsolete. • New York Central vs. Erie Canal • Speed and low overall cost • Ability to go almost anywhere • Geography not a serious barrier.

  17. Overall impact • Reduced time and money it took to move heavy goods • Overall costs of moving goods dropped 95% between 1815 and 1860. • Improvements in speed • Allowed for a national market to emerge • Self-sustaining domestic markets • Facilitates foreign trade