How did Transportation Change During the Industrial Revolution?

The world had gone through two industrial revolutions. The first revolution began in the 1700s. And the second revolution happened in the 1860s. Both of the revolutions were the most important periods in the history of human society because they influenced almost every aspect of life and especially brought the world entirely new kinds of transportations. Steam engine, waterway, road, and railroad experienced mainly improvement during the first revolution, and the second revolution brought the inventions of automobile and airplane; both they played an essential role in the development of transportation in history.

The steam engine was one of the most vital components that had been invented during the first industrial revolution. It contributed a lot to the improvement of transportation. Thomas Newcomen was the first person who invented the steam engine. However, the use of the steam engine was expensive and not efficient. (World History textbook) Until 1765, James Watt, one of the greatest contributors to transportation, reformed the steam engine to be more efficient and consume less fuel by adding a separate condenser to Newcomen’s engine. Watt’s improvement had saved almost 75 percent of the fuel that had previously been used by the engine. (Kendra Bolon) After the improvement, the steam engine had been used broadly on the other transportations, such as steam ship and steam locomotive. The steam engine not only improved the way of transporting, but also the quality of life. For example, people could travel by taking locomotive and steam ship. Moreover, they could enjoy the life by watching the landscape during the trip. Therefore, the steam engine was the most incredible transportation in the world.

Roads, canals, and railways were three major components of transportation improved during the first industrial revolution. People used the roads as the basic way to transport the goods from one place to another. Roads were in very bad repair before the first revolution, and it were not efficient for people to transport goods. (World History textbook) John MacAdam, Thomas Telford, and John Metcalfe all developed the new roads construction techniques. Thomas Telford made new foundations in roads with large flat stones. John MacAdam equipped roadbeds with a layer of large stones; therefore, people could transport goods on a rainy day. Canal was another vital part of transportations, which allowed goods to be transported through a series of man-made waterways. Transporting goods by canal lowered the risks of smashed products during route. Moreover, a canal barge could carry more products than the other forms of transportation during that time. Canal also cost less money for transporting merchandise. For the reason of transporting heavy goods from place to place, the improvement of railway began in 1800, which made a great leap in transporting technology in human history. The improved steam engine led the running locomotive with properly powered technique of rolling. The improvement of railways allowed the towns and cities to grow rapidly. In the mid-18th, Abraham Darby made a plate way of cast iron on top of rails that allowed the furnaces working and able to lift the iron plate. In 1789, William Jessop developed an “L” shaped rail which held the wagon on the track. Goods could be transferred within a short amount of time, which helped to foster the agricultural and fishing industries. The locomotive was capable of transporting triple amount of goods compared to the horse-pulled wagons. (Mrs. Abiah Darby) The improvement of road, canal, and railway changed the way of transporting, the amount and distance of transporting goods increased significantly and affected how people lived accordingly.

The automobile and airplane were the two most incredible forms of transportations that were been invented during the second industrial revolution in the 1860s. Automobile was crucial form of transportation since it affected the whole world. The automobile was first invented by Karl Benz in 1886. Later on, in 1908, Henry Ford made the automobile affordable for people by introducing the assembly line. (World History textbook) Automobile enabled people to go anywhere they wanted to at any time. It’s the most convenient tool for people to move.

As for the other important invention, airplane, was built in 1903 by Wilbur and Orville Wright. (World History textbook) Around 400 BC, Archytas was reputed as the first person designed and built the first self-propelled flying device. While the Wright brothers made the first successful try to carry a man rose by airplane. The first airplane flew naturally at even speed, and descended without damage. Although the flight lasted only 59 seconds, it marked an important start of the aircraft industry. The appearance of automobile changed the whole world entirely in that it provided a convenient and affordable way to transport and move for people. The creation of airplane broadens the scope and distance of the transportation, which may transports passengers and goods across continents and land. These two inventions both brought significant influence to people.

In conclusion, during the first and second industrial revolutions, transportation had gone through dramatic change and improvement. It not only brought effective and efficient way of transporting, but also influenced and shaped people’s life, almost every aspect in people’s daily life. With the advance of technology, transportation progressed. The steam engine led to the application of locomotive and steamboat, which increased transporting capacity and thus facilitated more production machines for manufacturing in other industries. Trade expansion was fostered by the introduction of canals, improved roads and railways. The invention of automobile grounded the basic way of transportation for people while the airplane provided a faster way from place to place. The first and second industrial revolution marked a turning point in human history, and transportation played a vital role affecting people’s life socially and economically.


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