What was the significance of the Transcontinental Railroad ?
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The Transcontinental Railroad was a key factor in the industrial development of the United States. Before the Railroad's completion, rail lines had limited reach, and supplies could only be transported through laborious animal hauling. Because of this, the standard of living and wealth throughout much of the country was lower than in the industrialized, developed areas; food, medicine, and education were all affected by transport limitations. The Transcontinental Railroad did not permanantly solve all these problems, but it did improve transportation and living standards significantly. Cargo could be transported in larger bulk than ever before; imports and exports could be scheduled, raising the wealth of outlying areas, and of course the Railroad itself provided many jobs. It also shortened travel times between far destinations, making business trips easier and more productive, and making vacation trips possible. One of the biggest side effects of the railroad was to improve communications; as the rail was being laid, telegraph poles and wires were put up alongside, taking advantage of the newly-cleared land. This allowed far better communications across the nation than ever before.
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