From the opening of the first few railroads in the east coast states at the beginning of the 1830s, America’s rail network began its rapid expansion westwards as technology and investment in railroad companies took off. At first the railroads were fiercely opposed by canal corporations, which conducted the bulk of industrial transport at the time, however rail would rapidly outpace canal transport in both industrial and passenger capabilities in the ensuing years. Canal transport simply could not compete with rail transport as construction methods and locomotive designs were constantly refined. Railroads were considerably less restricted by geographical features than waterways, which would freeze during the winter, and the individual train carriages were generally easier to organize and pack than barges. Railroad construction, maintenance and operation provided employment for many labourers and consequently resulted in the establishment of numerous temporary settlements along the routes of the railroads.
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