Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Traveling Tuesday: 19th Century Travel

Traveling Tuesday: 19th Century Travel 

Until the recent pandemic, most people took travel for granted. Jumping into the family vehicle or on a plane for a quick getaway was done without a lot of forethought. Living on the east coast, I can get to numerous states in just a handful of hours. 
Two hundred years ago, travel was much slower and more difficult. Roads were generally rutted and rudimentary, muddy quagmires when it rained, and choking dust trails when dry. Vehicles were few. Children and poorer adults walked everywhere, and only the more successful farmers had horses and wagons. Most freight was moved by oxen-driven carts. A trip from Boston to New York by horse could take four to six days, depending on weather (and that was on some of the best roads that ran between major cities). 
Between 1790 and 1820, “The Transportation Revolution,” occurred. Roads were rebuilt and extended. Over 3,700 miles of turnpikes (toll roads) were constructed in New England alone. Through the 1840s, country and town roads were also improved. As a result of the ability for faster travel with these better roads, the number of vehicles on the roads increased. Stagecoach lines spread across the Northeast, the name coming from the concept of using continual relays or “stages” of fresh horses spaced out every forty miles or so. Not necessarily more enjoyable, the stagecoaches averaged eight to nine miles an hour which reduced travel time. 
By the early 1800s, the use of steam became an emerging technology used in railroads, boats, and the
building of canals – all designed to move goods, produced and passengers. Although dangerous because of potential fires and explosions, steamboats could run on tight schedules with greater speed than overland means of travel, and became popular in a short time. 
The British had developed a system of canals decades earlier, but the Americans didn’t begin their infrastructure until the mid-1800s. The Erie Canal, in particular, was a great success among the American canals. Crossing the breadth of New York to connect Albany and Buffalo in 1825, it opened up the agricultural hinterland for trade with New York City and England. 

Train lines began to develop in the 1830s, with small locomotives that pulled a handful of cars over uneven track. Traveling fifteen to twenty miles per hour, train speed was twice as fast as anything Americans had experienced to date. However, most lines ran between large cities, most of them concentrated in the Northeast. Travel between New York City and Boston took less than a day using a combination of rail and steamboat. 

The first transcontinental railroad would not be completed until 1869, so westward expansion which began in the 1820s was done primarily by “prairie schooner,” large canvas-covered wagons that resembled the ocean-going vessels of the same name. A journey from the Atlantic Ocean (the eastern border of the U.S) to the western territories took months, and travelers carried as many supplies as they could, supplementing their food by hunting or foraging along the trail. 

I’ll try to remember that the next time I complain about the snacks served during an airline trip. 


Gold Rush Bride Hannah

A brand-new widow, she’s doesn’t need another man in her life. He’s not looking for a wife. But when danger thrusts them together, will they change their minds...and hearts? 
Hannah Lauman’s husband has been murdered, but rather than grief, she feels...relief. She decides to remain in Georgia to work their gold claim, but a series of incidents makes it clear someone wants her gone...dead or alive. Is a chance at being a woman of means and independence worth risking her life? 
Jess Vogel never breaks a promise, so when he receives a letter from a former platoon mate about being in danger, he drops everything to help his old friend. Unfortunately, he arrives just in time for the funeral. Can he convince the man’s widow he’s there for her protection not for her money? 
Gold Rush Bride: Hannah is the first book in the exciting new series Gold Rush Brides. Steeped in romance, intrigue, and history, the story will keep you turning pages long into the night.

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