Thursday, April 2, 2009

Getting There in 1848 and 1870

"Did Railroads Induce or Follow Economic Growth? Urbanization and Population Growth in the American Midwest 1850-1860" (PDF, National Bureau of Economic Research) Four economists have researched the effect of railroad development on Midwestern settlement between 1850 and 1860. If you're like me, you'll read the introduction and the historical information about how fast the new transportation mode developed (and how Ohio tried to quash it to protect the state's investment in canals!), skip most of the technical part, and check out the conclusions. It turns out that (if I have got it right) railroads didn't speed up settlement, but they did speed up urbanization. Not surprising given that they can't stop everywhere and therefore are a centralizing technology.

And then you'll discover that they footnote some very interesting old railroad and ship travel guides. (In order to measure the effect of railroads, they had to know exactly where they were when.) The links didn't all work for me. These are the ones I found, either directly or after a little fooling around, and I'm pretty sure there are more. These are extremely cool resources if you have folks migrating to or through the Old Northwest in this era:

Appletons' Railroad and Steamboat Companion
, 1848 (Google Book Search)

1870 railroad map, not sourced

Travelers' Official Guide of the Railways and Steam Navigation Lines of the United States & Canada, June 1870. Note the prematurely psychedelic cover typography and the long list of local times.

Grain Dealers' and Shippers' Gazetteer, evidently 1891 (as digitized by Pam Rietsch), accessible one railroad line at a time. The maps are awesome; the gazetteer part contains names as well.

For further searching, check out the University of Texas's justly famous Perry-Castaneda Map Collection (no tilde available on blogger?).


Apple said...

More great links. Thanks.

The ~tilde works on my template. If you need to you can do the html ~

In the blogger is being weird dept, the word verification box says "Listen and type the numbers you hear"!

Apple said...

OK, that didn't work. Leave out the spaces & # 126;