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Maury Kleins A Hell of a Way to Run a Railroad gives a new perspective ofreliable transportation During much of the 19th century railroads dominated the American industrial landscape The railroad enabled people to travel farther and alsomore widely The railroad was one of the greatest technological advancements of the Two hundred thousand miles of track were laid by 1900 The railroad beganto symbolize American prosperity By the 1890s the rail industry was near collapseExpansion during the 1880s caused rate wars that took the financial strengths of some ofthe strangest railroads Regulation of the railroads was controlled by the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 Railroads were the first industry to be watched under the federalgovernment Between 1893 and 1897 one fourth of the nations mileage sank into receivership The railroads affected were the Union Pacific Northern Pacific the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Erie and the Philadelphia and ReadingFor two decades rail managers had tried unsuccessfully for some form of regulation to take away the criticism put upon them In the phrase of Albro Martinthe leading railroad historian The final hour had struck for the Victorian RailroadCorporation 2 The growth of the nineteenth-century rail system had relied on conditions unique to the era As more railroads reached cities and towns competitivewars erupted that drove rates down despite efforts to maintain themThe railroads task was not to simply haul freight but to help create the townsfactories and farms that would help generate the freight The railroad industry had reached a turning point in its history The question remained who would lead therailroad into the new era E H Harriman would be the leader who brought the railindustry into the new era Harriman was known as a skilled banker Harriman was abantam rooster with a fierce competitive streak in everything he did During the 1880s Harriman had dabbed in smaller upstate New York railroads but his role had been largely financial Stuyvesant Fish landed him on the
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