During the 19th and early 20th century, the railroad was the reigning king of American industry. A range of short and long haul railroads built and used over 240,000 miles of track from north to south and east to west. This fascinating online exhibit from Harvard Business School's Baker Library looks at how these companies transformed American business, and makes some comparisons with European railroad companies. The materials here are divided into ten sections, including British Railroads, Mass Distribution, Finance, and Management. Each section includes primary documents such as receipts, maps, and internal memos that illustrate how these various companies interacted with each other and the government. The Finance section is utterly engaging, as it discusses (in brief) how railroads were able to corral large amounts of capital for construction and operations across a vast "playing field" of operations.


  • Social Studies > General
  • Social Studies > Technology
  • Social Studies > United States History
  • Social Studies > World History

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