The railroad history of the United States may be said to have begun in 1830 with the opening of the Baltimore and Ohio to traffic. After many experiments in respect to roadbed, rails, engines, and cars, both on this line and on other early lines, there was evolved a distinctively American railroad.
During the earlier years progress was slow. In 1830 the total number of miles in the United States was twenty-three. In 1840 the number was almost three thousand. From that time on growth was more rapid, the total mileage for the whole country in 1860 being in excess of thirty thousand. During the Civil
Railroad Mileage in the United States: 1830-1915. (In thousands of miles.)
In 1830 the Total Mileage was 23; in 1840 it was 2818.
War neither government made notable headway in railroad construction. The return of peace, however, started activities anew with the result that a mania for railroad-building spread over the country, particularly in the West and Far West. Soon after 1880 the total mileage passed the one hundred thousand mark, the average annual increase exceeding ten thousand miles. Later, the building of new lines gradually gave way to the extension and consolidation of old ones, until at the present time a relatively few organizations control the through traffic in the United States.