Railroads early 1830s

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Map Code: Ax01958

Work on America’s first railroads began in the mid-1820s, the first of these being small private railroads for industrial use. By 1830–31 four railroad companies had opened lines to provide transport services connecting various cities. Much of the existing railroad technology and the incentive behind investment in the railroads came from Britain, which had recently undergone its industrial revolution The Albany and Schenectady Railroad Company built the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad to transport passengers from the Erie Canal to Albany in the east. The South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company was the first American railroad to use a steam-powered locomotive for a scheduled passenger train, the ‘Best Friend of Charleston’, whereas most railroads before that time relied on horse-drawn carriages. Each railroad was set up and funded by independent railroad companies, which were granted operating licences and land leases by the states in which they operated.

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