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Post Roads & Iron Horses

Transportation in Connecticut from Colonial Times to the Age of Steam

Richard DeLuca

Publication Year: 2011

Post Roads & Iron Horses is the first book to look in detail at the turnpikes, steamboats, canals, railroads, and trolleys (street railroads) that helped define Connecticut and shape New England. Advances in transportation technology during the nineteenth century transformed the Constitution State from a rough network of colonial towns to an industrial powerhouse of the Gilded Age. From the race to build the Farmington Canal to the shift from water to rail transport, historian and transportation engineer Richard DeLuca gives us engaging stories and traces the significant themes that emerge as American innovators and financiers, lawyers and legislators, struggle to control the movement of passengers and goods in southern New England. The book contains over fifty historical images and maps, and provides an excellent point of view from which to interpret the history of New England as a whole. This is an indispensable reference book for those interested in Connecticut history and a great gift for transportation buffs of all kinds.

Ebook Edition Note: Seven images from the Connecticut Historical Society have been redacted.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Series: The Driftless Connecticut Series & Garnet Books


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pp. c-ii


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p. iii-iii


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pp. iv-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Situated on the northern shore of Long Island Sound, Connecticut has always been the gateway to New England, and the land between the major commercial ports of New York and Boston. This book is the first to look in detail at the evolution of the transportation systems that helped to define the history of the state and the region, and to explore how...

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Introduction: The Land and Its First Inhabitants

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pp. 1-15

Transportation is the vital link between a people and the land they inhabit; the means we choose to move ourselves, the resources we require, the goods we produce. By overcoming the limitation of distance, transportation makes possible the myriad of economic and social interactions...

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Chapter One: Colonial Connecticut

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pp. 16-47

With the growth of the Connecticut colony in the seventeenth century, a network of local, intertown, and intercolony roads developed, poor though they were, and the first ferry and bridge crossings appeared. Since most towns did not set land aside for roads,...

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Chapter Two: Turnpikes and Stagecoaches

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pp. 48-78

In the aftermath of the revolution, there was deep concern that if the new nation could not function as an economic whole it would soon dissolve. Providing adequate overland transportation was the key to making commerce possible on a national scale. Burdened by the repayment of state war debts, and...

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Chapter Three: Steamboats and Canals

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pp. 79-119

Along with the political and legal revolutions that overtook Connecticut in the first decades of the nineteenth century came a technological revolution based on the mechanization of manufacturing and the power of the steam engine. Steam power revolutionized both industry and...

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Chapter Four: The Railroad, Part I

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pp. 120-150

The first railroad charters issued in Connecticut were prompted not by a demand for railroads within the state but by rail construction in surrounding states. The situation was understandable, given that Connecticut had an extensive turnpike network, numerous steamboat...

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Chapter Five: The Railroad, Part II

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pp. 151-186

In the 1870s, a new wave of technological innovation swept the nation, centered on the development of electrical power and large-scale technological systems. As the industrial economy continued to expand, railroading became the nation’s first big business and a forerunner of managerial capitalism. By...

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Conclusion A: Period of Transition

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pp. 187-192

By the turn of the twentieth century a new transportation technology and a new transportation policy were poised to challenge the dominance of the New Haven’s steam-powered monopoly and redirect Connecticut’s transportation history....

Appendix A: Population by Geomorphic Region, 1800–1920

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pp. 193-201

Appendix B: Corporation Charters

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pp. 202-216

Appendix C: Connecticut Rail Lines

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pp. 217-222


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pp. 223-238


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pp. 239-246


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pp. 247-254

E-ISBN-13: 9780819571731
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819568564

Page Count: 268
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: The Driftless Connecticut Series & Garnet Books