A new way of life was taking shape for the American people during the new industrial revolution. Transformations of all ways of life were in motion at a rapid pace. With the completion of the transcontinental railroad came dramatic changes to the cattle and mining industries. Cities were being redesigned and immigrant workers along with middle class workers struggled to compete against advanced technology. Family structures and the role of women were re-shaped as technological inventions exploded. As we explore this period of time in our country we see that technology advancements re defined almost every area of American life
Without the transcontinental railroad’s completion in 1869 much of the changes America experienced would not have happened. The railroad linked the east to the west, it gave companies in the east a chance to move their products westward in less time, at a much cheaper cost, and changed how the businesses operated. One example of this is with the invention of the refrigerated rail car by Jonas Wilder. It allowed the Chicago stockyards to ship dressed beef all over the country and changed their method of doing business which was previously to send the beef dried. George Pullman also encouraged the migration westward by providing comfort for travelers with his invention of the railroad sleeping car. It provided spacious accommodations, luxurious travel complete with exceptional food and first class service, and encouraged the middle class to travel in style. Another inventor who benefited from the railroad system was Cyrus McCormick. He designed a horse drawn mechanical reaper that cut the grain to one side of the unit. His factory was located in Chicago where access to raw materials through the water ways was plentiful. The railroad allowed his company to be located in the place most beneficial to the production of the reaper while also distributing his invention to distant places. The railroad also gave thousands of Americans jobs as the amount of track miles tripled between 1860 and 1880 and then tripled again by 1920. The completion of the railroad also opened spacious new areas to commercial farmers, created a national market for consumer goods for companies like Ivory Soap, and changed the way we divided time into specific time zones.
Cattle and mining were also changed during the industrial revolution. Job opportunities were provided to thousands of people as a result of the cattle boom which started in southern Texas. Cowboys worked extremely hard and for little pay. Millions of cattle were openly roaming the Texas plains by the 1950’s and cowboys struggled against freezing winters and extremely hot climates in the summers to keep their cattle alive and to keep investment “busts” to a minimum. During the winter of 1885 record cold temperatures in the West killed over 200,000 cattle. This horrible disaster in combination with the development of refrigerated box cars eliminated the need to drive large herds of cattle from the grazing lands in the west to the butchering plants in the Midwest. Old ways of mining with picks and shovels also changed. Mining became highly capitalized, mechanized, and profitable in west. Common tools and single miners working alone gave way to the development of machinery and huge companies. This was an example of how the labor force was shifting in America. The Census Bureau of 1880 discovered that a majority of the workforce was now engaged in non-farming jobs and by 1890 two-thirds of Americans were working for wages rather than owning a farm, business, or craft shop. Advanced technology provided for bigger companies and work now changed for the average American from farming to wage labor.
Large companies and their new technology were heavily involved in the re-designing of city landscapes. Skyscrapers were replacing church steeples as the tallest buildings within cities, bridges totaling 13 years to build were being…