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The geography of the American continent lent itself to the transport of raw materials from unpopulated to populated (and thus industrialized) areas - usually west to east. In Europe, by contrast, railroads mainly brought small-town populations into the cities. A seminal and entertaining novelization of this process can be found in The Octopus. The laying of track in the Great Plains was relatively easy; it was the Rockies (and the Sierra Nevadas that proved most difficult but, ultimately, the most financially rewarding.
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