52. RAILROAD TRANSPORTATION. The American Railway System.— The con struction of railroads in the United States be gan on a small scale in 1828 when the Baltimore and Ohio built its first mileage. The Charles ton and Hamburg began constructing some mileage in South Carolina in the following year, and in 1830 the Mohawk and Hudson, the parent company of the New York Central sys tem, began construction. The work under taken by these pioneer railroads proceeded so slowly at first that in 1830 but 23 miles of line were in actual use. During the following de cade other lines, radiating from the various North Atlantic seaports, were begun, so that by 1840, 2,818 miles of line had been completed. Railroad promoters still had difficulty in ob taining the necessary construction funds. They had to depend largely upon local communities and business men who desired improved trans portation rather than upon investors and finan ciers. The practical feasibility of railroad transportation had not been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the investing public. During the decade 1840 to 1850 the construction of railway mileage progressed slowly to 9,021 miles, and was confined largely to the Atlantic seaboard section. It was not until the last two years of the decade that railroad construction began to progress rapidly. The gold discoveries in Cali fornia caused an unusual demand for overland routes to the West; they directed the attention of the seaboard population to the resources of the interior; and they were instrumental in solv ing the money stringency which had hampered construction. The construction engineers' field of action was shifted mainly to the Central West. Private speculation was rampant; many States, cities, counties and townships offered aid to railroad companies more freely than in early years ; even Federal aid, offered indirectly through the States, became a substantial factor in railroad building. Business prosperity pre vailed throughout the country, carrying with it a demand for improved transportation facilities. By 1860 a combined system of 30,626 miles had been completed.
The Civil War interrupted line construction in the country as a whole, but gave a special stimulus to the building of a transcontinental line to the Pacific Coast. The beginning of the
Union-Central-Pacific line during the war was due in large part to the urgent desire on the part of many public men to bind the far west ern territory to the Central West and East. They were actuated by rumors to the effect that the Pacific Coast section was threatened with annexation to Canada. Before this line was completed other transcontinental lines were un der way. During the years 1867 to 1873 railroad construction forces were unusually active throughout the Trans-Mississippi Valley and the far West. The railroad mileage of the United States as a whole was increased by 33,000 miles. An interruption then accompanied the financial and industrial crisis of 1873, the crisis having in fact been brought on largely by excessive railroad capitalization and too rapid construction of new mileage. In 1880 railroad construction again began to progress rapidly. The railroad system advanced from 93,267 miles in 1880 to 163,597 in 1890, over 70,000 miles be ing completed in a single decade. During the following decade 29,749 miles were added. The long extended business and financial depression beginning in 1893 and the over-construction of the preceding decade brought the work of many construction gangs and promoters to a halt. More progress was made during the decade end ing in 1910 when 46,947 miles were completed, but since then railroad construction funds have been directed more largely to the improvement and building of terminals, sidings, additional tracks and operating facilities than to the build ing of more mileage. Single-track mileage ad vanced from 2403 miles in 1910 to 232,231 in 1914; the coming of war conditions then be came a factor. On 31 Dec. 1917, the last date for which complete mileage figures are pub lished, the country's single-track mileage ag gregated 253,626 miles, exclusive of switching and terminal companies. On 31 Dec. 1916 rail road trackage in the United States, included sec ond, third and other tracks as well as single track mileage totaled 397,014 miles. In 1913 the whole of Europe had approximately 215,000 sin gle-track miles of line, and the entire world, ex clusive of the United States, had about 430,000.