Railroads and Conflict in the West

Start Free Trial

What were the economic and social changes of the transcontinental railroad?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 had profound effects on the United States. The railroad shortened travel time between the East and West coasts from six months to one week and brought the cost down by as much as 90%. It turned what had been a dangerous journey into a relatively safe and easy one. As a result, markets in the United States could be greatly expanded, and prices for consumer products dropped. Raw materials could be transported to factories more quickly and cheaply, and finished products could reach consumers more efficiently than ever before. This caused a boom in manufacturing and in the distribution of goods around the country. By the end of the 1870s, over $50 million worth of goods were being shipped across the continent every year. More cities and towns sprang up along the railroad, leading to even further settlement of the interior of the country. This led to increased manufacturing and farming in these regions. Also, because more goods...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 765 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team