Evolution of Transportation
Transportation is a very important part of history, today and the future. Transportation is what his world runs on. Because of transportation many people and businesses are able to survive. But transportation does not just involve business; it can also be for personal means. Think of how mail is delivered or packages are shipped. In one way or another some sort of transportation was involved. But is transportation as important as it was back in the 19th and 20th century when we didn’t have technology like we do today?
Technology today has eliminated transportation in the sense that mail does not have to be sent by carrier anymore, if can be sent over the internet. But when we look at transportation in the 19th and 20th century we can definitely see that it changes over the course of history and every day, month or year we progress into a forward motion and we can see that transportation literally wrote history. In this paper I am going to explore and compare how transportation evolved in the world.
I will focus on United Kingdom and the United Stated in the 19th and 20th century and show major comparisons on how transportation wrote history and how far the US and UK have come from where they were then to what it is like now. What is the first thing you think of when you hear transportation and history? Like many and me, we think of steam engines, which lead to railroads, railroads lead to coal, coal leads to mining, and it goes on from there. From a brief overview we are all correct. Steam locomotives transformed the industrial revolution.
The first steam engine concept was funded by a gentleman by the name of Samuel Homfray but the idea was conceived by Richard Trevithick. “On February 22, 1804, the locomotive hauled a load of 10 tons of iron, 70 men and five extra wagons the 9 miles between the ironworks at Pen-y-Darron in the town of Merthyr Tydfil, Wales to the bottom of the valley called Abercynnon. It took about two hours. ” (Bellis) Although Trevithick had the original idea for this locomotive engine, it was used in what is a called a tramway locomotive which was used for the road, not the railway.
George Stephenson is considered to be the inventor of the first steam locomotive engine for railways. “ (Bellis) Stephenson, very poor and uneducated growing up taught himself to read and write and because of this self-motivation lead him to becoming a colliery engine builder. Hired by the Stockton and Darlington Railway line, he would eventually be known for the building the company’s first steam powered locomotive, as the company engineer and would name it the “Locomotion” in 1814.
While all this compelling revolution was taking place in England a gentleman by the name of John Stevens was making history in the US and was recognized as the “Father of American railroads. ” Previous to Stephenson perfecting his locomotive in England Stevens was experimenting on his estate in Hoboken, New Jersey three years prior, which gave him the experience he needed to obtain the first railroad charter in North America in 1815. This set forth the future growth of some of the first operational railroads. “The first railroad charter in North America was granted to John Stevens in 1815.
Grants to others followed, and work soon began on the first operational railroads. ” (Bellis) By now you can see that the United States and England at this point were in a nose-to-nose race and very alike in the changes that slowly began to shape history. The birth of the Railway in England began in 1758 with an act for establishing agreements between land owners and proprietors for laying down a wagon-way.
This act is known as the Middleton Railway Act of 1758, which granted Charles Branding, owner of Middleton Colliery the right to build a wagon-way from his colliery to his coal-yard. “… nd, as the said Coal-mines and Coal-works lie at the Distance of Two Miles and upwards from the said Field or Place called Casson Close, intended for a Coal-yard or Repository for the said coals so to be sold and disposed of, and it will therefore be absolutely necessary, for carrying the said Proposal into Execution, that a Waggon-Way (such as is used for and about the Coal-works and Coal-mines in the counties of Durham and Northumberland) should be made, framed, laid down and continued, between the said Coal-works and the said Casson Close Coal-yard and Repository, in, over, and through, divers Fields, Lands, and Grounds, in the Parish of Leeds, which belong to, and are the Estate and Property of, divers.
Persons, the several Owners and Occupiers whereof have consented and agreed that the said Charles Brandling… shall and may have the Liberty and Privilege to make, place, and lay down,such Waggon-way or Ways… and from time to time, to repair, maintain, and support, the same Waggon-way or Ways… ” (“Middleton Railway Act of 1758” 1758, 2) The Middleton railway is claimed to be the oldest railway in the world. This railway shaped and moved history forward and was a major factor in the industrial revolution. In 1830 The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was operating, amongst being one of the oldest railroads in the United States, it was one of the first commercial lines in the world. Without this railroad Baltimore faced serious economic unproductivity.
In 1843, the US Congress approved money for the first telegraph line to be installed along the right-of-way with the stipulation that the railroad would be able to use the line after its completion, free of use. Many investors invested their money into this railroad through the purchase of stocks to fund this project. The birth of the locomotive named “Tom Thumb” was conceived and placed on this railroad. It was the first locomotive built in United States. This railroad project was such a success that it became the standard practice for railroading and modern business. The railroad marvel was starting to take shape in both countries and soon changed the way of transportation for the greater. The development of railroads in the UK and US grew at a quick pace.
Like the United States, the United Kingdom had plans of constructing a similar railroad that would travel from London to Birmingham. The London and Birmingham Railway company (L&BR) was established in 1833 and would later became part of a larger railroad company, by the name of the London and North Western Railway (L&NWR). The 112 miles of track that ran from Birmingham to London, was the first intercity line built in London. The L&BR offered many incentives like The B&O did in the United States. The main reasons being; it is more efficient for the delivery of goods and makes sources in different areas much more feasible and accessible. The second reason being; making transportation for people faster and more cost effective.
John Francis explains in more detail, “First, the opening of new and distant sources of supply of provisions to the metropolis; Second, Easy, cheap and expeditious travelling; Third; The rapid and economical interchange of the great articles of consumption and of commerce, both internal and external; and Lastly, the connexion by railways, of London with Liverpool, the rich pastures of the center of England, and the greatest manufacturing districts; and, through the port of Liverpool, to afford a most expeditious communication with Ireland. ” (Francis 1851, p. 23) The fairly new development of the railroad system in the United Kingdom and United States was starting to prove a financial success using steam engine locomotives.
Not only was it doing well financially, it is far more efficient on transferring goods, and It has a bright future as a regular means of transportation for people traveling long distances. A report was done in Manchester, England by three men, James Walker, Robert Stephenson and Joseph Locke on the advantages and costs of using fixed and mobile stream engines in newly constructed areas of Liverpool and Manchester. “The general question submitted for Mr. Rastrick’s and my consideration may be shortly stated in the following words: – “What, under all circumstances, is the best description of moving power to be employed upon Liverpool and Manchester Railway?
The comparative advantages of the different kinds of power applicable to rail-roads generally, is at the present time a very interesting question, the difficulty and importance of which, as a matter of science, are much in increased by the magnitude of your concern, and by the various considerations necessary to be embraced and balanced previously to arriving at any decision that would be useful to you, or consistent with the confidence you have placed in us. ” (Walker. 1831) In the B&O Railroad alone the railroads massive profits were being realized. “… as the railroad grew from a capital of $3 million in 1827 to a large enterprise generating $2. 7 million of annual profit on its 380 miles of track in 1854, with 19 million passenger miles. ” (Stover 1987) By the later part of the 19th century The United States and United Kingdom were well on there was to creating and constructing larger railroad systems and merging smaller ones together.
With this as the main focus The Unite States fathomed a transcontinental railroad even before the treaty with England was settled, which would answer the questions to the boundary of Oregon. “The possibility of railroads connecting the Atlantic and Pacific coasts was discussed in the Congress even before the treaty with England which settled the question of the Oregon boundary in 1846. ” (Haney 1968, 1908-1910) A railroad network so large; it would stretch from coast to coast connecting the Atlantic and Pacific coasts for the first time. This dream came to reality and was known as the Pacific Railroad. This route was known later as the “Overland Route”. Cooper 2010, 44-45)
With the help of Congress, government bonds and land grants, the Pacific Railroad Acts of 1862 and 1864 made this connection all possible; by connecting existing railroads the dream came into reality and would truly shape history and move it forward exponentially. This railroad system would allow greater communication for the postal service, which was greatly developed in the east but lacked in the west and because of other events that took place in history, like the discovery of Gold in California, the railroad looked more appealing. “The discovery of gold, the settlement of the frontier, and the success of the eastern railroads increased interest in building a railroad to the Pacific. ” (Stover 1961, 53) The railroad shrank the US by linking the separate halves causing an increase in trade opportunities between each coast.
The transcontinental railroad gave citizens of the US the increased opportunity to act upon setting out to new territories and take land offers; causing a great acceleration to populate the country. Because of this major event in history, wagon trains were replaced, giving the US the jump start that grew into the backbone of cross-country passenger and freight transportation. While the US was concentrating on the Pacific Railroad, the United Kingdom had a plan as well; the Great Western Railway. The Great Western Railway was the link between England and most of Wales. By 1838 after getting an Act of Parliament in 1835, it ran its first train.
Later to become in the Western Region of British Railways in 1947, it had acquired a few nicknames; “God’s Wonderful Railway” and “Great Way Round”. After many years of trying to convince parliament to let GWR build new broad gauge line, they finally got and Act that allowed them to complete these updates to the tracks. Because of this it changed the future of Great Western Railway. “Eventually in 1846 an Act was passed initially preventing the GWR from building new broad gauge lines but a compromise was reached which provided for mixed gauge, with three rails instead of two enabling trains of different gauge to travel the same route. ” (“Great Western history”)
Throughout the history of ailways in the United Kingdom there were over 120 small railway companies formed that did not succeed very well, especially when interest rates went up and forced investors to invest in government bonds instead of railways; this caused a big strain on many railroad companies. Eventually interest rates went back down and investors had greater incentive to invest in railroad companies once again. But because of this, over a period of time the government took control of the Great Western Railway and by 1921 had formed an act that would eliminate the competition of small companies, the best interest of the railway would be controlled by the government and according to the region a railway was located it would be placed in one of Four Groups; the “Big Four”. One of the groups kept the same name; “Great Western Railway.
The other three groups were, “London, Midland, and Scottish Railway”, “London and North Eastern Railway”, and “Southern Railway. ” During World War I these four major railway groups were controlled by the government. According to the Act of 1921, “1. -(1) With a view to the reorganization and more efficient and economical working of the railway system of Great Britain railways shall be formed into groups in accordance with the provisions of this Act, and the principal railway companies in each group shall be amalgamated, and other companies absorbed in manner provided by this Act. “(“Railway Act 1921” 1921) In 1948 the “big four” railway companies were nationalized to form what is known as the result of the Transport Act of 1947; British Railways.
While the United States passed an act in 1862 to construct a transcontinental railroad called the Pacific Railroad Acts and The United Kingdom monopolized every small railroad company with the Act of 1921 and later forming British Railways, It is very clear to see how railroads have shaped history as to what it is today. We can notice all throughout Europe and Asia that locomotives are slowly becoming once again a general means of transportation for the ease of human travel; both work and pleasure.
It seems that there tends to be a pattern as far as advancements in technology and new sources concerning the United States, and Europe, including the United Kingdom; Europe, making new discoveries or transforming old ideas into something new. Now with new advancements of technologies in electric trains, will the United States be soon to follow the evolving trend that our some of our closest neighbors are creating?