Amtrak Takes Over Most U.S. Intercity Train Traffic (Great Events from History II: Business and Commerce Series)
Article abstract: New modes of transportation threatened railroads with extinction and forced the federal government to take radical measures to save them, including passing the Rail Passenger Service Act.
Summary of Event
When the U.S. Congress created Amtrak in 1970, it took one in a series of steps increasing government involvement in railroad transportation. Railroads had an important role in the development of the United States. Trains carried passengers and supplies to the frontier and brought back food, lumber, and minerals to the population centers of the East. The federal government encouraged the growth of railroads by giving their builders enormous land grants, including not only rights-of-way but millions of acres on both sides of the tracks. This land increased tremendously in value because of the presence of the railroad tracks.
In the Midwest, railroads were responsible for the change from subsistence farming to the raising of single crops such as wheat and corn. In the West, ranchers were able to thrive because they had a means of shipping their cattle and sheep to major markets. California became a rich state in part because growers were able to ship fruits and vegetables to the eastern markets on rapid trains that had freight cars specially designed to prevent spoilage in transit. Cities such as New York and Chicago were able to grow to enormous proportions because trains brought in...
(The entire section is 2235 words.)
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