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30 Jan

(Texas fits in here, too, but there seems to have been a mixed bag of expectations – whether it was really American expansion, or merely emigration).

But that great work, colossal as appears the plan on its first suggestion, cannot remain long unbuilt.

Its necessity for this very purpose of binding and holding together in its iron clasp our fast settling Pacific region with that of the Mississippi valleythe natural facility of the routethe ease with which any amount of labor for the construction can be drawn in from the over-crowded populations of Europe, to be paid in the lands made valuable by the progress of the work itselfand its immense utility to the commerce of the world with the whole eastern coast of Asia, alone almost sufficient for the support of such a road ...

Fremont, is one example, another is the Southern route.

A good deal of political wrangling and compromise – and dead ends attended the railroad discussions. While I'm not sure that desired railroad routes played much of a roll in the US starting the Mexican War (although it is probably worth looking into a little further), we of course know that the Gadsden Purchase (which became the southern parts of Arizona and New Mexico) was specifically railroad inspired.

Anyway, does this notion that the mere potential of the railroad opened [or played a previously unrecognized role in opening] the frontier deserve more research? That is the kind of thing I'm wondering about in regard to railroads.We – railroad historians – spend a lot of time recording the development of particular technological features and the construction of miles of track, but what about the expectations that railroads inspired?This is our high Subsequently (but not all that long after) someone welded them into a phrase.As to idea that the mere potential that the railroad opened the frontier, we certainly know that settlement patterns West of, say, the Missouri River were very different from the earlier settlement patterns West of the Alleghenies. [Also see "American Progress," painting by John Gast, 1872.] It is a cliche that railroads made America, and historians point to the Pacific Railroad of 1869 and its effect of binding the Pacific and Atlantic states.However, it recently occurred to me that the railroad truly made America in a deeper and more profound way.