American Frontier by Tim McNeese

By Tim McNeese

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By 1842, it had been extended to Cumberland, Maryland. Fourteen years later, the B&O had arrived in St. Louis. Early rail locomotives were little more than underpowered steam engines mounted on a railcar with wheels. Such engines could achieve speeds of between five and ten miles an hour. When a strap broke, the wooden tie sprang up, forming what railroaders called a snakehead. Such loose rails could tear through the bottom of a rail car and cause a serious accident. But in time, railroad technology advanced, creating more powerful rail locomotives able to travel faster and pull longer trains of cars.

A local substance, called trass, was used to cement the canal walls watertight. The 1830s witnessed a canal-building craze in America. And no wonder: Prior to the canal, a farmer might pay $100 to send a ton of produce from Buffalo to New York City, with the trip requiring three weeks. On the Erie, that same ton could be shipped for $10 in about one week. S. Review and Write 1. Why was the Erie Canal such an expensive building project? 2. The Erie Canal proved a vital transportation link between the East and the early 19th century frontier.

Review and Write As President Thomas Jefferson dispatched the Lewis and Clark expedition west, he delineated specific objectives for the Corps of Discovery. What were those objectives. When looking for volunteers for the mission, they carefully avoided men who wanted to go on the trip just for the adventure. Instead, they sought strong men who had worked on the frontier wilderness. Only men who were hard workers could be used on the long trip west. Among the men selected for membership in the Corps of Discovery were skilled hunters, rivermen, blacksmiths, carpenters, and soldiers.

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