54. INDUSTRIAL AND COMMER CIAL DEVELOPMENT. The chief indus trial and commercial development of the United States has occurred since the Civil War. With the termination of that historic struggle which destroyed sectional lines, the reunited nation entered upon the development of the wonderful and varied powers which nature had given the territory which it occupied. With an area nearly equal to that of all Europe, a climate ranging from the temperate to the sub tropical, fertile soils which had not yet been made productive, and a great mountain section containing untold quantities of the useful minerals and precious metals, its possibilities of production, manufacture and commerce were apparent to the thoughtful mind.
The first requisite was transportation facili ties to enable its various sections to develop and interchange their various products and move the surplus to the water's edge for ex portation. The railroads of the entire country were in 1860 but 30,000 miles, in 1865 35,000 and in 1870 52,000 miles and more than one half of this 1870 total was in the area north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi. The great section lying south of the Potomac and the Ohio and sweeping westward from the Atlantic to the western borders of Texas had in 1870 in its nearly 1,000,000 square miles only 13,000 miles of railway, or less than that of the State of Texas to-day, and the great moun tain section had but 2,500 miles of road with which to serve its more than 1,000,000 square miles of area.
As a result of these conditions the value of the merchandise sent out of the country in the year 1870 was but $375,000,000, or about one half as much as that of a single month in 1919, and the value of the merchandise ex changed among the people in the entire country was but about $6,000,000,000, as against more than $60,000,000,000 in 1919.
Clearly the first duty of the country on emerging from the war and hands across the bloody chasm)) was to develop trans portation facilities for the great areas north and south whose productive powers were so well established and for whose products the world was beginning to clamor. Fortunately
this was rendered possible through the co operation of capital drawn in part from the older countries of Europe and the loans of capital made by the government, coupled with large land grants for the construction of cer tain great railway lines, these land grants con sisting of the alternate sections of public lands lying on either side of the proposed railways. The public lands granted to the great trans Pacific lines which reached the western coast in 1869 amounted to over 30,000,000 acres and the total grants authorized by Congressional action amounted to approximately 150,000,000 acres.
The railways of the country which were at the close of the Civil War about 35,000 miles in length grew during the next 15 years at the rate of about 4,000 miles per annum; in the period between 1880 and 1890 the growth was at the rate of about 7,000 miles per annum. and from that time forward at the rate of about 5,000 miles annually. The railway mileage grew from 53,000 miles in 1870 to 167, 000 in 1890, 250,000 in 1910 and 270,000 in 1919, against 225,000 in all of Europe in 1919. The cost of this railway system of the United States is estimated at over $20,000,000,000.
Dividing the country into four great natural sections, the north Atlantic, the upper Missis sippi, the South and the mountain area (see map on p. 372, vol. 7 of this Encyclopedia) the railways of the north Atlantic section grew from 10,000 miles in 1860 to 35,000 in 1919, the upper Mississippi section from 23,000 miles to 100,000 during the same period, the Southern section from 13,000 to 90.000 miles, and the mountain section from 2,500 miles in 1860 to 45,000 in 1919. This growth included a half dozen distinct east and west lines stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific and a con siderable number of through lines connecting_ the northern frontage with the Gulf and the southern border with many interwoven branches making the surface of the country a veritable gridiron of railway lines, especially the area east of the mountain section.