How did the railroads help with the growth of industrialization?


Quick Answer

By providing a means for reliable transportation, the railroads made the regular shipping of manufacturing supplies and manufactured goods in mass quantities possible. As a result, the railroads laid the groundwork for the Industrial Revolution through providing a foundational need in the development of industry.

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How did the railroads help with the growth of industrialization?
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Full Answer

Prior to the existence of railroads, the transportation of goods, especially in a country as large as the United States, was limited by weather, speed, size and availability of water. Primary means of transportation included river barges and wagons drawn by animals. Rivers were a convenient means for transportation of a large mass of goods, but the rivers were not always located where the goods needed to be taken. Animal-drawn wagons could go places a river could not, but were slow and could not haul much. Canals expanded the water system, but dry seasons would make them impossible to use. The railroads were both a product of the Industrial Revolution and the means that made the expansion of this revolution possible. In England, George Stephenson put steam technology to use on metal rails and created the railroad. This technology was quickly adopted by the United States. From the establishment of the first railroad in the United States to the linking of the two coasts by the Transcontinental Railroad was 40 years. Without the Civil War, the railroads would have advanced more quickly. The railroads dropped the price of shipping significantly because of their ability to transport large amounts of goods, providing industry leaders with more capital that could be applied to building factories. They also brought industrial goods to consumers on a reliable basis which in turn supplied more money to the factories.

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