Paper On Early American Transportation

1057 words - 5 pages

Early American Transportation As the United States formed with the writing of the constitution, a bond was formed that connected every state. Now there needed to be a physical connection within the states, connecting the states, and pushing into the frontier. The first transportation routs even before there was major settlement in the Americas, was trails that the Indians used for trade. As major settlement began in the new world, major trail building began in order to establish trade between the colonies. There were several drawbacks to traveling by trails. Horseback and horse drawn carriages were the only way to travel and the horses could not carry large amounts of goods. Wagon trails were the first major transportation routs. Wagon trails spanned the entire continent, with the Oregon Trail being the most famous. Many small trails were built that connected the many small towns of early America. Weather played a major hindrance on the wagon roads. Any amount of rain would turn the dirt road into a mud swamp. Wagons had to have high axels in order to be able to make it through the muddy roads. The next major advance in the road system is the creation of the turnpike. The "turnpike era" lasted from 1800-1830. Turnpikes were owned by individual companies that charged a certain amount of money to travel on their private road. The Lancaster turnpike was one of the best turnpikes. The top turnpikes were built on a solid stone foundation with gravel spread on top, but most of the turnpikes were just loose gravel with drainage ditches on either side of the road. The most famous turnpike was a federal road-building project called the National Road. The National Road started in Cumberland, Maryland and reached Wheeling, Virginia in 1815. By the 1850's, the National Road reached Vandalic, Illinois. The failure of the turnpikes came with the price of traveling on the roads and the large price it cost to build and maintain the road. Low tolls discouraged traffic when the freight was in large bulk or small in value. This failure of the turnpikes to provide cheap transportation routs over a considerable distance sealed the doom of the turnpike. The boom of canal building was started in the 1820's with the great need of fast transportation of large amounts across great distances. Canals became a great asset when the roads became impassable. Most all of the canals were constructed to link three kinds of areas: "back country" to tide water, canals would transverse between older states and the Ohio valley, and the many western canals would link the Great Lakes and waterways running to the east. The Erie Canal started in Albany on the Hudson River and traveled up the state of New York to Buffalo to Lake Erie. The canal ran for a distance of 364 miles. By the 1840's the United States had 3,326 miles of cana...


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