Stop, Look and Listen: Railroad Transportation in the United States

By David Hinshaw; W. Espey Albig | Go to book overview

Chapter II
THE RAILROADS AND THE PUBLIC

HOW to create and develop better mutual workable relations constitutes the greatest problem of the railroad managers and the public. It is perhaps of more importance than all their other problems combined.

Railroad troubles with the public and the public's troubles with the railroads go back at least sixty years. The nation's greatest economic development took place during that time. The physical expansion period of the railroads came during the three decades following the war between the states, an era when too easily and too frequently the immediate advantage of a section of the nation was believed to be the ultimate good of the whole country. General business morals were none too high. Railroad expansion was encouraged. From 1867 to 1873, 32,000 miles of railroads were built. This exceeded the total mileage in the United States in 1859. The absence of public restraint on the railroads during this time made it difficult for them to accept regulation later.

The constantly increasing force of public control on the railroads, which formerly operated with a minimum of regulation, explains the shortcomings found in railroad management today. The present

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