(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved. Contact us for information about using this image.
Railroads revolutionized the transport of people and freight in the 19th century. In 1865, a hodge-podge of local rail lines extended no farther than Missouri and Iowa. By the end of the century, there existed five transcontinental railroads. The railroads provided a national transportation system that drew rural farmers into the national economy and consumers everywhere benefited from lower freight costs. At the same time, observers noted the dangers of railroad travel. This catastrophic train wreck photographed in April 1886 near West Deerfield, Massachusetts, took ten lives and injured many others.