Explores how Ohio — as a “public enterprise state,” creating state agencies and mobilizing public resources for transport innovation and control — led in the process of economic change before the Civil War.
The Hocking Valley Railway was once Ohio's longest intrastate rail line, filled with a seemingly endless string of coal trains. Although coal was the main business, the railroad also carried iron and salt. Despite the fact that the Hocking Valley was such a large railroad, with a huge economic and social impact, very little is known about it.
Few American states can match the rich and diverse transportation heritage of Ohio. Every major form of public conveyance eventually served the Buckeye state. From the “Canal Age” to the “Interurban Era,” Ohio emerged as a national leader. The state's central location, abundant natural resources, impressive wealth, shrewd business leadership, and episodes of good fortune explain the dynamic nature of its transport past.
As a Wisconsin historical marker explains: “After 1837 the vast timber resources of northern Wisconsin were eagerly sought by settlers moving into the mid-Mississippi valley. By 1847 there were more than thirty saw-mills on the Wisconsin, Chippewa, and St. Croix river systems, cutting largely Wisconsin white pine. During long winter months, logging crews felled and stacked logs on the frozen rivers. Spring thaws flushed the logs down the streams toward the Mississippi River.
The first Mississippi steamboat was a packet, the New Orleans, a sidewheeler built at Pittsburgh in 1811, designed for the New Orleans-Natchez trade. Packets dominated during the first forty years of steam, providing the quickest passenger transportation throughout mid-continent America. The packets remained fairly numerous even into the first two decades of the twentieth century when old age or calamity overtook them.