Travel and Transportation

As America was expanding and moving west in the early 19th century, the small trails could not accommodate the heavy traffic; and the existing types of transportation did not make for quick or easy access to the nation’s interior. Lack of adequate transportation prevented the transport of goods from the interior of U.S. to the Eastern markets at reasonable costs. The future of America's economic system depended upon the ability to design and construct a network of transportation systems that extended from the small towns in the interior to the centers of commerce, manufacture, and trade. America launched "the transportation revolution."

There were many different modes of transportation in the young nation.

Turnpikes: Roads built and financed by private companies in the 1820s and 1830s, that charged a toll to travel on them. Few of these were completed and they were mostly unsuccessful because of the long travel times, high tolls and competition from canals and railroads.

Plank Roads: Plank roads were introduced in New York in the 1840s. Canals: The canal boom began in the 1810s, connecting existing waterways. By 1816, 100 miles of canals existed in the U.S. and only three were longer than two miles. The major canals of the time were: Erie Canal (364 miles long), Ohio-Erie Canal (308 miles), Miami-Erie Canal. Between 1816 and 1840, more than $125 million was spent on canals, early bankrupting three states.

Steamboats: Began to dominate river trade and travel on the Great Lakes beginning in the 1830s. They were a fast and economic way to travel.

Railroads: Initially developed in the eastern U.S. in the 1820s and 1830s. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was chartered in 1828 and had thirteen miles of track by 1830. Charleston, South Carolina, built the second railroad in the nation by 1833, with 136 miles of track. Three short lines operated out of Boston by the early 1830s.

Source: Travel and Transportation
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