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How fast could you travel across the U.S. in the 1800s?

How fast could you travel across the U S in the 1800s


Stashed in: History!, America!, Maps!

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Maps from the 1932 Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States break it down beautifully. Starting from New York City, they show how much harder it has always been to travel westward across the country than north-south along the coasts.

Negotiating the Louisiana Purchase was a big deal:

1. Travel to and from France took a long time.

2. No cell phones. No phones. No carrier pigeons. No telegraph!!

3. Lewis and Clark had not even traveled the land at that point.

No boat yards:

Despite widespread illness, the expedition made their canoe-building camp on September 26 and began to work. It quickly became apparent that the small axes Clark distributed were simply inadequate for the task. Not enough able workers and the wrong tools made progress slow. Looking to the Nez Perces for help, the expedition followed Indian practice in making dugout canoes by burning the centers of the logs. Even with that labor-saving technique, it took the Americans ten days to construct five canoes.

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