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Q: What were the most revolutionary social and economic developments of the last quarter of the nineteenth century?
A: Railroads were probably the most significant element in American economic development in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. [ With high fixed costs, railroads needed to carry as much traffic as possible in order to net a profit, so they constructed feeder lines to draw business to the main “trunk” lines. Among the first railroads was Cornelius Vanderbilt’s New York Central, which
ultimately operated between New York City and the principal midwestern cities. Thomas Scott’s Pennsylvania Railroad also linked Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to several midwestern cities. The Baltimore and Ohio railroad also gained access to Chicago, which became the nation’s railroad hub. In the Southwest, Jay Gould consolidated the Kansas Pacific, Union Pacific, and Missouri Pacific. In the Northwest, Henry Villard and James J. Hill built their respective Northern Pacific and Great Northern. Northern capitalists controlled most trunk lines in the South. Railroads charged what the market would bear, more for manufactured goods and less for bulky products like wheat or coal. The railroads stimulated the economy, particularly in rural areas with undeveloped resources. Technological advances in railroading such as the air brake, steel track, and Pullman sleeping car also accelerated economic development. To speed the settlement of new regions, the land-grant railroads sold land cheaply and on easy terms. They offered reduced rates to travelers interested in buying farms. ]
Expert answered|emdjay23|Points 507|
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Asked 3/9/2013 7:59:18 PM
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