The emergence of the railroads was the basis for the US economic development. Wooden railroads were built in Unites States in the 1720s.
The construction of the railroads simply exploded between 1810 and 1850 in the North-east. This period coincided with the so-called Industrial Revolution.
Although in the South the construction of the railways had concentrated on short lines linking cotton regions to oceanic or river ports, and the absence of an interconnected network was a major handicap during the Civil War. The North and Midwest managed to build up networks that linked every city by 1860.
The first locomotives used steam engines. After 1940, with the emergence of Diesel engines, the traveled distances increased, so trains became the main means of transportation in the USA.
Because of many bankruptcies and consolidations operations, almost all long-distance passenger traffic was shifted to Amtrak in 1971, a government-owned business. Commuter rail service was provided near a few major cities such as New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and the District of Columbia. Computerization and improved equipment steadily reduced employment, which peaked at 2.1 million in 1920, falling to 1.2 million in 1950 and 215,000 in 2010. Route mileage peaked at 254,251 miles (409,177 km) in 1916 and fell to 139,679 miles (224,792 km) in 2011.
Freight railroads continued to play an important role in the U.S.’s economy, especially for moving imports and exports using containers, and for shipments of coal and oil.
Here are 16 amazing pictures with some of the most spectacular trains, from the azrymuseum database.