TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATION SINCE 1860
Introduction. The outstanding feature in the history of transportation after 1860 was the dominant position attained by the railroads. The period during which the more widespread among the revolutionary effects following the introduction of railroads in this country were most felt may be said to fall roughly between the years 1850 and 1885. Until about 1850, or perhaps as late as 1860, the railroads were mainly feeders to the waterways. It was not until the fifties that anything like a real railroad system extended beyond the states bordering on the Atlantic coast. Between 1860 and . 1885 the transcontinental lines were pushed through to the Pacific coast, the main outlines of the country's railroad net were completed, the introduction of many technological improvements facilitated through traffic and lowered costs, short roads were consolidated into great systems, and a rapid reduction in rates took place. Though progress did not stop with 1885 its effects thereafter were much less revolutionary in character. With this advance in rail transportation came a decline in the importance of most of the inland waterways. In the twentieth century came the rapid spread of motor vehicles and extensive improvement and construction of roads to facilitate their use. Though primarily used for local or regional transport, this new vehicle was able to compete in many services with the railroads. More recently the airplane has provided the speediest transport known.
The period after 1860 also brought marked changes in the development of communication facilities; the most remarkable, such as the telephone, the wireless, and the radio, came in the latter portion of the period. Together, the improvements in transportation and communication have served to widen markets, promote specialization, stimulate trade, and build up a national economy. Moreover, as these improvements were adopted by other nations, the resulting gains were spread around the earth and promoted a more nearly world-wide economy. By 1938, man had encircled the globe in less than four days by airplane, a telegram had been sent around in less than five minutes, and a radio broadcast covering most of the world was possible.
Technological Advance in Railroads. The introduction of cheap steel brought many changes in the railroads, notable among them being the