How Western Industrialization Rapidly Reshaped the Modern World

In the past, the only possible way to travel from The East Coast to the West Coast was to sail by ship all the way across the entire globe itself or ride for months upon months on end in a rickety horse-driven carriage or stagecoach. Others sailed south to Panama, then crossed the Isthmus to board a ship that takes them to the other side of America.

About 21,000 workers—from survivors of the Irish-American Civil War, liberated slaves, and Mormon missionaries to Chinese laborers—were hired to conduct the difficult and frequently hazardous task of building the 1,776 miles of railroad. According to one report, the construction budget was about $60 million, or about $1.2 billion in modern equivalent, while other estimates have raised the number.

With the aid of the federal government, four transcontinental railways were established through land grants. The railways, obtaining millions of acres of Congressional federal property, have been supplied with land for track space, and land for sale, which has led to corporations’ funding of infrastructure development. However, not all railways have been established with government funding.  Smaller railways had to buy property for private owners to construct railways and some of them declined to grant travel rights to railroad construction on their private property. 

Although the building of the railway was a costly endeavor, its influence on the nation was similarly tremendous, and the numerous other transcontinental paths that were eventually constructed went on to influence the entire industrialization of America.

The completion of the western railway routes after the Civil War opened up major settlement regions and industrial growth throughout the country. White immigrants from the East flowed to the ranch, farm, and mine across the Mississippi. In the West came African-American immigrants from the deep south who were optimistic about opportunities to be had in the pioneers of all-Black West cities. The complexity of the urban population is further enriched by Chinese railway personnel.

The Great Plains were changed by the East Settlement, as the vast Mountain Yarns and Prairie Tales of the old Western frontier gradually became replaced by industrialized progression and construction of railroads. The massive groups of American bison were nearly pushed to extinction as farmers plowed the greens for grain and other plants. However, the livestock industry expanded as the railways offered an efficient way to sell the livestock.

The enormous amount of timber required to construct the rail, including railway connections, tunnel supports, bridges, and railways, meant that thousands of trees had to be cut down which destroyed western forests. Towns and cities that developed on the railway began to interfere with nature. And the subsequent railway and other railroads allowed the journey of many huntsmen to the west to slaughter millions of buffaloes. The killing influenced Native Americans who mildly hunted buffalos and undermined their resilience to Western settlers. 

The global importance of Western America rose sharply. The transcontinental railroad introduced the western world to the rest of the globe and began influencing the world of technology and industrialization. In particular, it influenced the transformation of California from a quiet ghost town to a significant economic and political power, and helped accelerate the country’s fast expansion.

In turn, this allowed for a more efficient way to go about commerce and trade. By 1880, $50 million was carried annually by trans-continental railways. The railways have allowed foreign trade as well as exports to the East Coast markets of Western agricultural crops and the natural resources and processed products from East Coast towns on the West Coast. The Constitution established the legislative basis for a strong centralized trade market, and as you may have guessed, the functional foundation was provided by the transcontinental railways. They gave the U.S. the world’s biggest monetary union – the foundation of the quick growth of US manufacturing and agriculture to the degree that the USA developed into the strongest economy in the world as of the 1890’s. 

Several railways had been constructed in the country by the time the 1900’s rolled by. The track paved the way for the western settlement, created new economic opportunity, fostered urban growth and connected the nation in general. The true value of the railways was completely understood when the railways were shut down during the major 1894 railroad strike, in which it became painfully apparent that America depended on these iron tracks and the freights that transport goods along them.

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