Railroads - Railroads. Railroad construction began in the...

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Unformatted text preview: Railroads. Railroad construction began in the United States in 1825; by 1860, more than thirty thousand miles of track had been laid. Originally concentrated in the Northeast, by the eve of the Civil War, lines reached as far west as St. Joseph, Missouri. In the South, railroad building lagged just as much as canal building. Railroads had several advantages over canals. They required a smaller initial capital investment; offered more direct routes; and provided fast, year-round service (rivers and canals froze in winter). There was little coordination among the different railroads though, which worked against creation of a uniform rail system. Because the companies selected their own track gauge, freight often had to be unloaded at the terminus of one line and reloaded at the start of another line, adding to costs. Despite this shortcoming and their comparatively high maintenance costs, railroads expanded and...
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