American West United States Became One Of Research Paper

Length: 10 pages Sources: 10 Subject: American History Type: Research Paper Paper: #96829384 Related Topics: American, South American, Railroads, Westward Expansion
Excerpt from Research Paper :

American West

United States became one of the most industrialized nations and sought to grow its industries at an alarming rate. For this purpose, the western part of United States, which had not yet been discovered, was subjected to massive development, economic growth, formation of industries and allowing settlers to move towards the west. Railroads played a significant role in contributing towards the development and urbanization of America's West. The goal of this paper is to analyze the impact of railroads on America's West in the lights of broad and diverse academic resources.

Railroads in America West

Railroads had been developed in United States during the nineteenth century and start of twentieth century. They owe their existence to Industrial Revolution. During the nineteenth century, Industrial Revolution promoted technological and industrial development and thus, laid down the foundations of railroads in United States. During this time, United States became one of the most industrialized nations and sought to grow its industries at an alarming rate. For this purpose, the western part of United States, which had not yet been discovered, was subjected to massive development, economic growth, formation of industries and allowing settlers to move towards the west. Railroads played a significant role in contributing towards the development and urbanization of America's West. The goal of this paper is to analyze the impact of railroads on America's West in the lights of broad and diverse academic resources.

Historical Evolution of Railroads and Background

At the dawn of nineteenth century, there was an awareness among the American industrialists that there was need to develop new mode of transportation in order to promote business and ensure that industries grow in United States (Banerjee, 78). For this purpose, efforts were made by investors to invest on water transportation in order to connect with United States. A former colonel of the American Army, John Stevens had proposed to develop steamboats, whereas Fulton proposed the development of rail systems, which would be powered by steams as it would be economical and quick to move goods from one place to another. Learning from the success of British railroad system, there was still need to prove the efficiency and reliability of railroads in United States as experts were not available. For this purpose, engineers went to Britain in order to learn railway and railroads technology (Banerjee, 84). Before 1840, 63% of the railroads constructed in United States were done by individuals, who had obtained their training from Britain. Ohio and Baltimore railroads were connected with Pittsburgh and concentrated on designing bridges and ensuring that slopes are ignored (Jenks, 10).

The Influence of Industrial Revolution on Railroads

There is no doubt that the Industrial Revolution played a significant impact in the development of technologies and economics. One of the most major impact was made on the development of railroads. New industries were the product of Industrial revolution and therefore, railroad technology changed the face of Industrialization as well as the landscape and terrain. The Industrial Revolution was a slow and gradual process, which brought changes in terms of technology and development (Jenks, 12). After the end of Civil War in United States till the start of twentieth century, the United States had been successful in becoming one of the most developed countries in terms of industry as it had been influenced by Industrial Revolution.

Developments had been made to install various factories that contained several workers, natural resources such as iron, coal and oil were produced in United States and developments were made in technology. There is no doubt that during this period, United States had been successful in surpassing all other developed nations in terms of industry and development. As the industry progressed in United States, the government of United States adopted several regulations in terms of business and development (Craig, Palquist&Weiss, Thomas, 173). This time also witnessed various individuals who made a significant impact on the industries such as John D. Rockefeller, who was an oil tycoon, Pierpont Morgan, who was an expert in field of finance and Thomas A Edison, who...


In short, railroads had been developed in United States to shape the industries and to transport goods from one place to another.

Railroads in the West

In Westward expansion, railroad played a significant role. During that time, the West was considered to be unexplored and unchartered region, but the development of railroads had allowed European-Americans to explore the area and to tame it. After the end of American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln and Congress signed the Pacific Railway Act, which was "an act to aid in theconstruction of a railroad and telegraph line from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean" (Craig, Palquist&Weiss, Thomas, 178). This act made a significant impact on American railroads construction and therefore, led to the development of Transcontinental Railroad. During the 1850s, surveys had been conducted in the West to propose railroad route to the Pacific Coast. For this purpose, Central Pacific and Union Pacific were recruited to construct the railroad line.

The westward expansion was initiated with the Manifest Destiny, which was spread further after the completion of Transcontinental Railroad. The construction of railroads in West America allowed the west to experience economic growth, population boom, development of urban areas and development of farming and agricultural sector in United States (Bain, 47)

. Many Americans in United States believed in progress and therefore, the western part of United States offered an unexplored area, which needed to be tamed. Supporters of railroads believed that the west was now beyond their reach and there is no doubt the Transcontinental Railroad made a significant impact on west and western expansion.

The passing of the Pacific Act and building of Transcontinental Railroad concentrated on creating a pathway to the west and therefore, offered opportunities for Americans. More importantly, land was analyzed and interpreted in a different manner through the railroad system. The land of the west was considered to be a land, where economy and industry could flourish and would provide income to its residents (Bain, 47).

The Impact of Railroads on America's West

As mentioned earlier, railroads played a significant impact on the development of America's West during the nineteenth century. This section of the paper concentrates on discussing the impact of railroads in West expansion and development.

Massive Expansion of Railroads

One of the most notable impacts of railroads on West America was the development of railroads and recruitment of workers. Italian, German, Irish and Chinese laborers had been recruited to work on railroads. The Transcontinental railroad was completed within six years and during this time, the west experienced tremendous growth and development in terms of railroads expansion. During the 1840s, railroads were primarily located in the eastern part of United States. However, this trend changed in 1850s as railroads were being constructed in west, stretching beyond Mississippi. After a decade, New York, Indiana and Illinois became the hub of railroad networks and "By 1860 there was a 30,000-mile iron network that "could be divided into nearly equal thirds: 10,000 miles in the eleven-state Northeast; 11,000 in the old Northwest-Midwest; and over 9,000 miles in the South" (Beebe, 19).

Railroads and Economic Growth

With the rapid development in industries, United States experienced a boom in population and therefore, urban areas started to increase. In order to get full advantage of industries, railroads had been developed as a mode of transportation during the nineteenth century and were important in terms of economic growth (Cooper, 145). This mode of transportation had been successful in moving manufacturing as well as agricultural products efficiently and effectively and at affordable prices and therefore, they made a significant impact on industries. In terms of steel, railroads were considered to be the main mode of transportation with coal as the source of duel. Furthermore, competition had started among different railroad organizations, which ultimately allowed the dominant player to dominate the industry (Cooper, 178).

Growth, Development and Innovation

After the end of Civil War, railroad had been extensively developed in the United States, particularly in west area. In 1870, the total mileage of rail was 53000 miles. At the end of the nineteenth century, this mileage was 200,000 miles. Railroad tracks were also laid in eastern part of Mississippi River. The development of railroads concentrated on resolving issues such as time management in terms of Central, Pacific and Eastern Time zones. Most of the company during 1886 adopted a gauge track of 4-foot, 8 11/42-inch (Cooper, 45).

Owning railroad ventures was expensive as finance was needed to maintain the tracks as well as the locomotives. For this purpose, federal and local governments worked collaboratively to provide financial assistance. However, private investors were the primary investors, who invested in railroads ventures through bonds and stocks (Cooper, 78). The concept of stock watering prevailed in railroad ventures as companies focused on selling stocks, which was higher than the value of the company. During late nineteenth century, investment banks frequently made investments in railroad ventures, which concentrated on…

Sources Used in Documents:

Work Cited

Bain, David Haward. Empire Express; Building the first Transcontinental Railroad. Viking Penguin. 1999.

Banerjee, A.E.D. a. N.Q. "The Railroad to Success: The Effect of Infrastructureon Economic Growth," Providence, Brown University. 2006.

Beebe, Lucius. The Central Pacific & The Southern Pacific Railroads: Centennial Edition. Howell-North. 1999.

Bianculli, A.J. The American Railroad in the 19th Century: Locomotives. University of Delaware, Newark. 2001.

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