A Brief Analysis of the Construction and Function of American Railways

American railways

American railways

Traffic conditions before railway construction

Before the construction of railways in the United States, steamboats and horse-drawn carriages played an important role in transportation. The first modern railroad in America was the Baltimore to Ohio railroad, built in 1830. Before the Civil War, the role of steamboats and horse-drawn carriages was immeasurable. Horse-drawn carriages were suitable for short-distance travel; steamboats appeared later and were a good choice for the transportation of people and goods. But compared to the railway, they lost their advantage.

Features of carriage transportation: the transportation speed is quite slow, the transportation volume is limited, and the transportation cost is high. For the transportation of a large number of goods, the railway can solve it at one time, while the horse-drawn carriage takes longer and costs more, and the efficiency is very low.

Although steamships can transport a huge amount of cargo, they cannot be navigable all the time throughout the year. At the same time, due to the limitation of the river course, convenient and fast railway transportation has emerged as the times require, regardless of seasons and regions.

Reasons for the rapid construction of American railways

In comparison, railway construction in the United States is based on the latecomer advantage, because the earliest birthplace in the history of railways was in the United Kingdom, that is, the railway that was born in 1825. Since then, the upsurge of railway construction has continued to form in Europe and North America and then spread to various colonies. The United States is developing along with the development of Britain, France, and other countries. American railway construction not only inherits from these countries but also has its own unique innovations, taking the essence and discarding the dross. The first modern railway in American history was the Baltimore-Ohio railway built in 1830. At that time, it was only 13 miles in length, but it marked the birth of American railways and the arrival of a new era of transportation.

By 1840, the United States had built approximately 2,820 miles of railroads, 941 miles more than Europe (England, France, and Germany combined). Since then, the United States has become the country with the most railway mileage in the world. By 1850, there were 9,000 miles of railroads in the United States. American railroad construction received important support from the state.

National support for railroad construction in the United States is divided into federal and local governments. The actions of the federal government include:

1. In order to facilitate construction and reduce land occupation disputes during railway construction, the federal government grants railway companies a large amount of land, and land ownership is an important part of railway construction. From 1850 to 1871, the federal government granted a total of more than 175 million acres of land to the railway companies, of which about 131 million acres were actually owned by the railway companies. “This can be said to be the greatest consolation for railway construction.” The federal government granted railway companies So much land that it covers a quarter of Minnesota and Washington state, a fifth of Wisconsin, Aiwa, Kansas, North Dakota, and Montana, and a seventh of Nebraska, 1/8 of California, and 1/9 of Louisiana. “The implementation of the federal government’s land grant policy has to be said to be the most effective way and way to vigorously promote the construction of American railways.

2. Finance. Due to the development of the second industrial revolution, domestic steel production in the United States cannot meet the needs of development, so the steel rails in the railway construction need to be imported from European countries, which invisibly increases the construction cost, and the federal government’s financial payment guarantees the progress of the construction and quality.

Third, the federal government’s preferential policies on customs duties. During the construction of railways, the federal government provides great preferential treatment for the import of iron and rails and implements low or no tariffs on imports to promote the efficient completion of railways.

The driving role of the American railways construction The US has gained a latecomer advantage in the construction of railways, which has played an important role in driving the development and construction of the US:

1. The construction and development of railways play a role in promoting agriculture. After the civil war, the construction of the railway promoted the interaction of agriculture between the east and the west. Agricultural machinery and technology, fertilizers, talents, etc. from the east were transported westward continuously; raw materials, fur, minerals, timber, etc. from the west were transported eastward, which strengthened the inter-regional cooperation. Exchange and cooperation. The original close connection between the north and the south may be replaced by the east and west, so as to achieve the goal of balanced development between the east and the west.

2. The construction and development of railways play a role in promoting industry. Railway construction directly promoted the development of the domestic steel industry in the United States.

3. The construction and development of railways play a role in promoting the city. In 1830, the urbanization level of the United States was only 6.72%, and by 1870 it was 20.93%. After the peak of railway construction in 1890, 80% of the people in the north-central Atlantic states lived in cities, and the urbanization of western California also reached 48.6%. “Railway construction not only promotes the development and prosperity of the American economy but also improves people’s living standards, making it at the peak of urbanization.

To sum up, the United States, as a rising star in railway construction, is a model in the world’s railway construction with its fast speed, high efficiency, and large scale. The connection of the East-West artery has accelerated the economic balance between American countries and regions, especially in driving agriculture, industry, and cities in the western United States. The best proof is that the development of American railway construction has promoted the country’s economic development. . Therefore, the reasons for the success of the American railways construction and the achievements and contributions it has made are examples worth learning and learning from in the future development and construction of railways in various countries.