Midterm: West Virginia and New Steam Boats Essay

Submitted By mharmon23
Words: 578
Pages: 3

West Virginia’s transportation industry has long been tied to the state’s overall economy. From rivers to railways, both were used to develop and grow the state’s economy and both are still in use to this day. As far as to which one was/is better, well let’s take a look. Starting with the wide array of rivers that flow through West Virginia, the most known are the Ohio and the Kanawha rivers. The river’s economic values have been recognized for centuries, from their accessibility for travel and trade, to their natural resource of drinking water and salt. These rivers also grew into major transportation routes and become greatly important on the path to westward expansion. With this, the salt that was in abundance here was a key part in the expansion because it was used to preserve meat.
As time passed the increase of trade along the rivers lead the way for new boats/rafts. And with larger boats, they require more wood, which in turn leads us into another big industry in WV, being timber. Lumber became a huge export outta the hills of West Virginia.
With the growth of these industries came recognition for better connectivity from these routes to the Eastern trade markets, which led to the connection of the James and Kanawha rivers through the Ohio River. This task was a huge undertaking and ultimately, with the construction of the canal system, became THE most important trade route between from Virginia and the west.
With new waterways, the idea of larger ships to transport larger loads became a reality with the development of the steam engine. The best part of these new steam boats where that they could travel up river, which was a big deal in the late 1700’s. These new steam boats had a larger hauling capacity, as some could push two to four rowboats at a time. This was huge for the timber, salt, and coal (I couldn’t forget to mention coal) industries.
As a continuing theme, time passes and we begin to see the growth of railways. And with this, they begin to replace river transportation as the main source of transport of timber and coal. In reference to the lumber industry, the railways were used to bring logs to mills. As for coal, they shipped coal to barges along the rivers…