The rise of Chicago...

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USS ALASKA

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In the time frame of this board, we have certain 'cities'. On the Gulf Coast, we have NOLA - no one else even comes close. On the Atlantic seaboard, running up to and including the ACW, we have NYC. Philly puts up a fight, Balto a distant 3rd. After that, a sharp decline...

Then those Mississippi metros, (And her affiliates... ) Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, Cairo, Minneapolis / St. Paul, St. Louis, Memphis, Baton Rouge...

The gateways on the east were the Big 3. Gateways to the west, the fight was between Chicago and St. Louis...like the fight between Philly and Balto.

Chicago was at first at a disadvantage. No direct connection to the Mississippi. Great Lakes traffic but confined to some of the Great Lakes unless cargos were transloaded to canals or embryonic railroads. Then some locks were built...and the railroads became stronger...and immigration increased...and the Illinois Central had Land Grants they needed to populate...

(Please see @wausaubob 's https://civilwartalk.com/threads/the-four-construction-projects-that-set-the-stage.135789/ thread)

Railroad / Lake / % by Rail
Commodities / 1860 / 1862 / 1860 / 1862 / 1860 / 1862
Flour (barrels) / 408,082 / 672,971 / 218,741 / 1,057,803 / 65.1 / 38.8
Wheat (barrels) / 377, 647 / 288,213 / 11,817,467 / 13,466,325 / 3.1 / 2.1
Corn (bushels) / 577,611 / 125,162 / 13,063,043 / 29,248,677 / 4.2 / 0.4
Cattle / 94,544 / 107,231 / 1,129 / 735 / 98.8 / 99.3
Hogs: Live / 186,038 / 443,786 / 160 / 449 / 99.9 / 99.9
Dressed / 35,130 / 44,578 / 0 / 0 / 100 / 100
Beef (barrels) / 69,226 / 127,493 / 6,701 / 22,345 / 91.2 / 85.1
Pork (barrels) / 83,256 / 83,814 / 4,672 / 108,735 / 94.6 / 43.5
Lard (pounds) / 9,809,880 / 54,422,303 / 139,600 / 34,120 / 98.5 / 100


Not that the railroads were completely displacing waterborne traffic - they couldn't - but in spoilables, and more importantly, bringing cargos to lake borne shipping traffic (or distributing the inbound cargos), Chicago began it's journey to the being the Midwest transportation hub...America's Second City...

From Fishlow's 'American Railroads and the Transformation of the Ante-bellum Economy' Table #34, page 266

A forum for ACW Economics...hum...

Cheers,
USS ALASKA

 
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