‘Jack’ Snyder explains the early B&O railroad Pt. 2

514 words


VIDEO: ‘Jack’ Snyder explains the early B&O railroad Pt. 2 TRT: 4:13

Joseph P. “Jack” Snyder

Another form of transportation which had been inaugurated by George Washington – the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal – which eventually reached Cumberland about five years after the B&O Railroad got there and throughout most the 19th century the two forms of transportation were in deep competition until eventually the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad won out and took over the canal. The railroad proved to be an extremely important form of transportation not just for passengers who were the dominant money- maker part of the railroad in the early days. They were quickly supplanted by the importance of freight transportation. The B&O railroad hauled agricultural produce from inland points to the Port of Baltimore and the wheat being grown in this area – the mid-Atlantic – wheat was particularly prized in international commerce in those days. It held up very well in transportation and so it commanded premium prices and the wealth generated by huge exports of wheat provided a great deal of money for the improvement of the areas that provided the wheat. That was particularly true here in Jefferson County, which is the focus of what we’re going to talk about today. In fact, many of the fine houses and plantations that were built in this area were a direct result of the wealth pouring in from the transport of wheat during that period which is a period when a great deal of wheat was being demanded in Europe as a result of population growth and economic growth. The passenger side of it was very important to enable people to move quickly between the coast and inland points and this in itself resulted in tremendous economic growth. When the B&O Railroad reached Wheeling, Virginia in 1852, the transport of commodities had been very expensive. Everything was done by Road up to that point and the cost of transporting a ton of goods of any kind, whether it was agricultural commodities or finished products was a hundred dollars a ton using wagons and teamsters over the National Road. Well. when the B&O got to Wheeling, Virginia in 1852, the price of shipping a ton of goods or commodities dropped from a hundred dollars a ton to five dollars a ton. You can readily imagine what a tremendous effect this had on commerce between the Ohio River area and the East Coast and similarly it was possible then for passengers to travel from Wheeling to Baltimore and Baltimore to Wheeling overnight. In those days, an express train left Wheeling, Virginia about five o’clock in the evening and arrived in Baltimore about nine o’clock the next morning. By 1857 the Baltimore and Ohio was able to offer through transportation across Ohio and Indiana using connecting railroads in those states all the way to St. Louis and commerce really began to pick up because until that point most of the major transportation routes were based on rivers and roads and the railroad was able to offer faster, cheaper, more efficient transport to everybody for both freight and passengers. Made possible by the generous, community mind support of American Public University System. (apus.edu) Sentiments and views portrayed in this series do not in any way reflect the modern-day 21st century policies of the University, but are offered to encourage  fact-based discussion on the evolution of the foundational values of the United States. 514 words