How did natural resources of the West feed industrialization?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One essential natural resource for industrialization is coal since coal is needed for energy. Energy is needed to run manufacturing plants and machines. In particular, many engines during the Industrial Revolution were run by steam, and coal could be used to produce steam much more cheaply than using wood. Therefore, coal became needed for energy for all industries, including the brewing, metalworking, and glass and ceramics industries.

Prior to and in the early years of the Industrial Revolution, Pennsylvania coal mines were the nation's primary sources for coal. However, new discoveries of coal drove the market westward, leading to the industrialization of the United States' western region. For example, coal was discovered "along Alabama's rivers" in 1815 as soldiers made their way out of Louisiana into Alabama in the aftermath of the Battle of New Orleans in the war of 1812 (Encyclopedia of Alabama, "Coal Mining"). Alabama's coal mining industry began in the 1830s and 40s with perfected techniques creating an industry boom in the 1850s ("Coal Mining").

Other westward coal-mining industries were developed in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois.