Forging New Transportation Links
Give us a railroad! Though it be a rawhide one with open passenger cars and a sheet iron boiler; anything on wheels drawn by an iron horse! But give us a railroad.-- Francis Cook, Territory of Washington, quoting the Walla Walla Watchman ( 1880)
Indians, fur traders, and missionaries had much in common in matters of transportation: their three basic modes of travel were by foot, water, and horse. To those the pioneer settlers added carts and wagons drawn by a variety of animals, but all such forms of transportation remained essentially private. Common carriers--enterprises specializing wholly in transporting goods and passengers with services available to any user--arrived in the Pacific Northwest only in the mid-1840s and did not become large-scale operations until the mining booms of the 1860s stimulated such enterprises. Thereafter, common carriers employing a variety of conveyances, from packtrains, stagecoaches, freight wagons, steamboats, and sailing ships to railroad freight and passenger trains, tied the region together and integrated it with the larger world. Without the construction of a railway network it would be impossible to account for the rapid commercial and urban growth that the Northwest experienced after the mid-1880s.
Inland rivers and valleys together with the Pacific Ocean and the many tidal estuaries along the coast formed the earliest and easiest avenues of com-