New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad - History - Background

Background

In 25 years after the American Civil War American railroad track miles more than doubled, changing the face of America forever. American railroads allowed products made in the East to be shipped to the expanding West less expensively than in previous years. This allowed for an economy of scale - larger, more efficient factories. The agricultural heartland of America was no longer confined to a market of single day's trip by wagon. Railroad and railroad construction became one of the largest industries during that era. By 1881 one out of 32 people in the United States was either employed by a railroad or engaged in railroad construction.

Starting about 1877, two great railroad developers, William H. Vanderbilt and Jay Gould, began competing for the railroad traffic along the south shore of the Great Lakes. By 1878 William Vanderbilt had a monopoly on rail traffic between Buffalo, New York; Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; and Chicago, because he owned the only railroad linking those cities - the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway. In addition, he was the richest man in America at that time. By 1881 Jay Gould controlled about 15% of all U.S. railroad mileage, most of it west of the Mississippi River and he was considered the most ruthless financial operator in America. Gould's major railroad east of the Mississippi River was the 335-mile (539 km) Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway (Wabash). The Wabash mainline ran from St. Louis, Missouri to Toledo, Ohio where it was forced to deliver its railroad traffic to William H. Vanderbilt's Lake Shore Railroad for delivery to the eastern United States.

Jay Gould and William Vanderbilt together oversaw all east-west rail traffic in the mid-west. The Seney Syndicate, owners of a 350-mile (560 km) railroad, the Lake Erie and Western Railroad, were interested in tapping new sources of revenue. The stage was set for the creation of the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad.

Read more about this topic:  New York, Chicago And St. Louis Railroad, History

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Famous quotes containing the word background:

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