Thursday, January 10, 2013

19th Century revolution in travel time

Building railroads across the US brought a revolution; travel time fell like a meteorite. In 1800 it took two weeks to get to coastal Georgia or eastern Ohio and four week to get to northern Georgia or western Ohio. In only thirty years those times were cut in half. In thirty more years, in half again. You could reach coastal california in three weeks. Then sixty years later Los Angeles could be reached in only three days!

The difference to the county was huge. It allowed nation-wide distribution of wholesale food and manufactured products (nationwide retail required another revolution - cheap long-distance calling).

Though personal travel was still expensive. I grew up 1700 miles from my grandparents in the 1950s and didn't see them many times. Jet airplanes brought distant families together in the last half of the 1960s and on.

Mother Nature Network
 Graphics from Mother Nature Network with credit to University of Nebraska. Click to enlarge.