During Reconstruction, Republican legislators and governors passed legislation that led Mississippi toward economic diversification; throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century, the Democratic politicians who followed them in office continued the march toward industrialization. Between the early 1870s and the late 1880s, legislation favorable to railroad companies allowed rail line builders tax breaks, access to state convict labor, and cheap or free land. Government efforts to attract railroad investors paid off: in 1870, 990 miles of railroad lines crisscrossed the state; in 1890, the total number of miles reached 2,397, and in 1910, 4,342 miles of track traversed Mississippi. The arrival of railroads in Mississippi encouraged other industries to locate in the state. Across Mississippi, local business and government leaders believed a manufacturing facility would usher in an age of prosperity for their village; and consequently, cotton seed mills, brick works, and textile mills soon dotted the landscape. In the Piney Woods and the Delta, large-scale timber cutters and sawmill operators made fortunes from the forests of the regions. Between 1880 and 1900, the value of products manufactured in Mississippi increased by 150 percent, and investors poured 350 percent more money into Mississippi manufacturing facilities in 1900 than they had in 1880.
The advent of a diversifying economy in Mississippi had consequences. New cities were created along railroad lines, and along with the state's old cities, they quickly became overcrowded and unhealthy. In late nineteenth-century