Let’s look into America’s transportation revolution. The change in transportation in America was similar to that of Britain’s. During colonial times, America had few roads. The roads were impassable during bad weather and were bad for wheeled transport. Traveling took a long time and was expensive. For example, the cheapest way to get from Northampton, Massachusetts to Boston, was to go to Windsor, Connecticut on land, and down the Connecticut River to Long Island Sound. Then, you had to take a ship around Cape Cod, and finally you would reach Boston. This trip was more than 280 miles long, and Northampton was in reality, only 100 miles away from Boston.
In 1794, the Philadelphia and Lancaster turnpike was built and The Philadelphia and Lancaster Company earned a lot of money from it. Soon more and more decent roads were built, and by 1820, there were roads linking all the major Northern and middle Atlantic cities with towns along the East coast. The system of turnpikes allowed farmers to send larger volumes of goods in less time. As a result, freight costs were reduced.
One of the most important canals was built in 1825: the Erie Canal. The Erie Canal cost $7 million to build. It connects Lake Erie to the Hudson River, and is 363 miles long, 4 feet deep, and 40 feet wide. The Erie Canal caused an explosion of canals, just like the Philadelphia and Lancaster turnpike caused an explosion of turnpikes.
The use of canals declined after railroads were built. Before the railroad system was made, people had to ride in crowded stagecoaches, just like Britain. The benches were hard, the roads were bumpy, the air was dusty, and there were many mosquitoes. America had steeper hills and mountains than Britain, so their locomotives were lighter and more powerful, with four sets of double wheels instead of two. By 1860, about 30,600 miles of railroads connected all the major U.S. cities east of the Mississippi River.