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A History of American Agriculture 1776-1990
Return To History of Farming
18th century
Transportation by water, on trails, or through wilderness
1776-99 1794
Lancaster Turnpike opened, first successful toll road
1800 1800-30
The era of turnpike building (toll roads) improved communication and commerce between settlements
Robert Fulton demonstrated practicability of steamboats
1810 1815-20
Steamboats became important in western trade
1820 1825
Erie Canal finished
Era of canal building
1830 1830
Peter Cooper's railroad steam engine, the Tom Thumb, ran 13 miles
railroad trains
Beginning of railroad era
1840 1840
3,000 miles of railroad track had been constructed
Plank road movement
1850 1850's
Major railroad trunk lines from eastern cities crossed the Appalachian Mountains
Steam and clipper ships improved overseas transportation
1860 1860
30,000 miles of railroad track had been laid
Illinois passed first designated "Granger" law regulating railroads
Union Pacific, first transcontinental railroad, completed
1870 1870's
Refrigerator railroad cars introduced, increasing national markets for fruits and vegetables
Refrigerator railroad cars
1880 1880
160,506 miles of railroad in operation
Interstate Commerce Act
1890 1893-1905
Period of railroad consolidation
1900 1909
The Wrights demonstrated the airplane
1910 1910-25
Period of road building accompanied increased use of automobiles
Railroad network peaks at 254,000 miles 
Rural Post Roads Act began regular Federal subsidies to road building
Federal Government operates railroads during war emergency
1920 1920's
Truckers began to capture trade in perishables and dairy products
Federal Government gave more aid for farm-to-market roads
Hoch-Smith Resolution required the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to consider agricultural conditions in making railroad rates
1930 1930's
Farm-to-market roads emphasized in Federal roadbuilding
Motor Carrier Act brought trucking under ICC regulation
1940 1942
Office of Defence Transportation established to coordinate wartime transport needs
1950 1950's
Trucks and barges competed successfully for agricultural products as railroad rates rose
Interstate Highway Act
1960 1960's
Financial condition of northeastern railroads deteriorated; rail abandonments accelerated
Agricultural shipments by all-cargo planes increased, especially shipments of strawberries and cut flowers
1970 1972-74
Russian grain sale caused massive tieups in rail system
1980-90 1980
Railroad and trucking industries were deregulated
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information Provided by the USDA
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