How did trains and railroads change life in America?

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pholland14 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Trains and railroads dramatically changed life in America. They allowed for faster, safer travel all over the country. They were more reliable than wagon trains, as these trains could bog down in the country's terribly maintained roads. They could also move independently of livestock, which needed constant tending and forage. Railroads allowed people to send goods independently of rivers and canals. While the rails could be dangerous in terms of trains derailing or locomotives exploding, at least they did not experience flooding issues during the rainy season.

Rails were especially key in developing the West. The transcontinental railroad, when finished in 1869, gave Easterners the chance to go west for only a fraction of the price they would have paid twenty years previously. Railroads also gave Westerners the opportunity to buy Eastern goods as they could order them and have them shipped in efficiently via the rail system. Without the rail system, the nation would not be as cohesive.

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