The canal systems were highly developed east of the Mississippi by 1850, about the time of major east/west RR development. It surprised me to find out that, in 1825, one could travel from New York City to Lake Erie by canal. Below is a item to visit the world of canals, very interesting.
In Sister Teresa's write-up she states first RR job was at Albia, IA. Joseph A was born there in 1878. From the articles below you will see that the main thrust of the RR's happened some 10 years earlier.
The later develpments were generally North/South feeders by smaller companies. Saw a statement, in Springfield, MO history, that the RR's came there in "the 1870's". Here again, the Williers got there later, in 1887.
There was also a rush by businesses and some farmers to get a spur to their door. In early RR days, locals made their own rail wagon and put in on the rails, hauled by horses, and got into disputes when they encountered each other going in opposite directions. Local rules developed,.... party with lightest load had to back up to the nearest siding. http://www.outfitters.com/illinois/history/ilrails.html http://www.angelfire.com/co/myfamilyroom/willier3.html http://inergy.com/familyroom/bald1.jpg http://inergy.com/familyroom/bald2.jpg http://www.embark.com/mln/links.html
1855 Baldwin Locomotive Ad
All you ever wanted to know about canals. (new 4/4)