The advent of the steam engine revolutionized how goods were transported during the Industrial Revolution. Powering locomotives allowed for much faster and more efficient ways of transporting goods and people across vast distances. Railways became a crucial part of manufacturing economies, facilitating trade between far-off locations. This new transportation technology also enabled the industry to expand geographically, allowing manufacturers to build factories further away from natural resources and tap into new markets. The impact that the steam engine and railways had on the Industrial Revolution was undeniable; it is often referred to as one of the most instrumental technological advances in human history.
The railways played a major role in the industrialization of America. In the decades before the Civil War, railway enterprises spread across the nation with a ten-fold increase in trackage, most notably in northern states. Initially, these railways used different widths and gauges that were not interoperable until rails were later standardized. The first transcontinental line was completed in 1869, with the Central Pacific and Union Pacific joining, significantly reducing transportation costs for goods. This development stimulated other industries, such as iron and steel production, and further spurred economic growth throughout the United States.
The railways had a profound impact on the settlement and industrialization of America. By providing efficient, low-cost travel and transport, it was possible for farmers to move to more fertile lands in the Midwest and Southwest. The resulting growth in productivity was staggering – from 1829 to 1841, the amount of wheat delivered along the Erie Canal rose from 3,640 bushels to one million bushels. This encouraged cities such as New York and Chicago, as well as strategically located towns like Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis, to overgrow. The transportation system allowed Americans to exploit the continent’s resources and build an economy on a national scale.
Today America still depends heavily on its railway lines. From our storied history of industrializing America with the railways, we still maintain many of the same lines today and use them as part of the largest US industries.
For nearly half a century, Swartz Engineering has been at the forefront of industry safety. They are a family-owned company specializing in power distribution for the electrical industry. They are the leading portable power substation manufacturers in America.