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FreightWaves Classics: Exploring the history of U.S. railroads

January 12, 2021

As profiled in an earlier Flashback Friday article, the railroad was first developed in Great Britain. Although they developed later in the United States than in England, wooden railroads were also built in the American colonies. These early railroads used horse-drawn cars running on tracks. They were built exclusively to transport freight. Termed “wagonways,” the earliest were begun in the 1720s. In addition to the British and colonists using wagonways in North America, the French used a wagonway to haul construction materiel to their fortress at Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, in New France (now Canada) in 1720.

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